Music Can Cure

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…and relieve physical and emotional stress

Can exposure to music produce curative results from physical and mental distress and disorders?  Science has proved many times over that the answer is yes! Experts have shown that experience with music has great benefits for individuals with various afflictions and pain.

For many generations health professionals have used music in some form to treat illnesses of both body and mind. However, some have dismissed these claims because they were mostly anecdotal and not of a scientific nature. In recent years many scientific studies have been conducted in varied aspects of physical and mental health care; the evidence from these studies is overwhelming and conclusive, proving the positive results of music when treating patients. So let us lay to rest the notion that music treatment for disorders is an “old wives’ tale.”

Music and the Brain

Activities that engage both sides of the brain at the same time, such as playing an instrument or singing, causes the brain to be more capable of processing information. A case in point: Children learn their ABC’s faster by singing rather than saying the letters. The addition of the tune makes learning the ABC’s easier to learn and remember.

“Music memory is processed across many parts of the brain and is thus preserved better than language memory alone,” said Dr. Kathy Johnson, CEO of Home Care Assistance.  “The power of music to affect memory is quite intriguing,” writes Laurence O’Donnell, author of Music and the Brain. “The order of music from the Baroque and Classical periods causes the brain to respond in special ways.”

Researchers claim that students can improve tests scores by listening to certain types of music. Also, high school students that study music have higher grade point averages than those that don’t study music. 

Albert Einstein said the reason he was so smart was due to the fact he played the violin.  He said he was able to figure out his problems and equations while improvising on the violin. Likewise, Thomas Jefferson used music to help him write the Declaration of Independence.  He said he played his violin to help him write the correct wording and phrases; playing the violin helped him express his thoughts clearly.

Pain Relief

“Research studies have substantiated the positive effects of music on chronic pain, both pre and post-operative, as well as anxiety related to injury or illness,” said Deborah Vanderbilt-Anderson, certified hand therapist.

Music provides meaningful, intellectual and emotional engagement to help reduce pain. Researchers have found the same results from listening to and involvement with music—it definitely helps reduce stress and physical pain. Dr. Raymond Bahr, of Saint Agnes Hospital in Baltimore, found that a half hour of music produces the same effect as 10 milligrams of valium.

Alzheimer’s & Dementia

Music Therapy can and does help alleviate the severity of Alzheimer’s and Dementia by addressing the physical, emotional, cognitive, psychological and social needs of affected individuals.  In nursing homes therapists use music to help patients create, sing, play simple instruments, move, dance and listen. This greatly helps decrease wandering and disruptive behavior among Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients.

Music therapy was conceived and developed in the 1950s.  One of the leading proponents of this new field was Dr. E. Thayer Gaston of the University of Kansas. Training for music therapists includes a major in music plus specialized courses in psychology and related fields. The contribution of music therapy in the treatment of Alzheimer’s and stroke patients is significant and well documented.

Mozart Effect

Don Campbell, is the world’s foremost educator and lecturer on the connection between music and healing.  Campbell wrote, The Mozart Effect: Taping the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind and Unlock the Creative Spirit. In the book, Campbell cites numerous examples of people benefitting with increased awareness, both mentally and physically, through listening to music.  Listening to music can slow down and equalize brain waves.  It affects respiration, heartbeat, pulse rates and blood pressure.  It also increases endorphin levels and enhances the immune system.

Dr. Alfred Tomatis, in one of his studies, recognized that the fetus hears sounds in the womb. Hearing music enhances physical, mental and spiritual well-being in the unborn fetus as well as in children and adults. Listening to classical music improves memory and concentration.

One may ask, “Why Mozart?”  Why not other composers?  Campbell says, “Yes, other composers’ music have enhancing qualities, but Mozart’s music appears to be significantly more potent.” It’s been shown to help heal the mind and strengthen the body.

General Health

Different types of music can have different effects on our minds, bodies and souls.  For example, rock music may raise the heartbeat, pulse rate and blood pressure while softer types of music may have the opposite effect. 

It appears that listening to music of a medium or moderate tempo is the best motivator over all, according to a report published in the Journal of International Sports Medicine, because “people may be more likely to stick to it.”

Patients who suffer from chronic pain in the back, legs, knee joints, and feet report less pain, depression, and disability after spending a week listening to music each day. As a result, many nurses and physicians are using music in addition to regular medical treatment to help alleviate pain in their patients.

While exercising, music can act as a distraction from the tedium, drudgery and boring aspects of repetitive motion found in almost all exercise programs.  Fast music stimulates treadmill users to get up to speed faster and keeps them there; this leads to a faster heart rate.

Science has proven listening to music or making it, by playing or singing, has a positive effect on both physical and mental health.  Music boosts the intellect, enhances learning, and brings a sense of well-being, happiness and contentment that aid over-all health.  Music offers a pathway to peace for many people.

Please submit your questions and comments to banddirector01@comcast.net

Visit our website at www.danvilleband.org for up-to-date information about the Danville Community Band.

 

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