Music and Healing
There is a well known link between music and healing. I think we all know in our hearts that music makes a difference to how we feel.
Music and Therapy
Music Therapy took a long while to be accepted. There are many countries that now recognise the benefit of music to reduce anxiety or depression. It is also used to ease physical pain, lower blood pressure and to calm those undergoing some surgical produres. It is defined by The Music Therapy Association of Ontario as,
the skillful use of music and musical elements by an accredited music therapist to promote, maintain, and restore mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
When my four now-grown-up children were little, I frequently put on music just so that I could dance around the lounge. On my journeys to visit my mother, who has dementia, I often put the radio or a CD on in the car (and sing along). I have a folk harp, which I am learning to play; it calms me and helps to reduce stress. I love the music of Taize, it is gentle and soothes my troubled soul. When I’m feeling nostalgic I love to listen to John Denver. We instinctively know how to use music to alter our mood.
Healing the Broken Heart.
Most of us have been in the position of the heartbroken teenager who uses music to release the emotions following a break-up with a boyfriend/girlfriend. Quite often we match our music to our mood. Sometimes, as I’ve expressed above, we use music to alter our mood. Different types of music are proven to bring about different responses.
Music and Babies
My harp teacher used to play in the local Special Care Baby Unit. He and the staff could see the calming effect on the babies and the mothers. It has long been thought that soothing music calms a baby in utero. Increasingly we are recognising the link between music and healing, especially in the treatment of premature babies. Mothers have naturally sung lullabies to babies for many generations. Lillian Mongeau, in a blog at blogs.edweek.org. says,
A new study by Marieve Corbeil, a doctoral candidate at Université de Montréal, has confirmed something parents and caretakers have known intuitively for thousands of years: lullabies are the best way to calm an infant.
Music and Dementia
Music has also been found to affect the mood of people with dementia. Professor Paul Robertson, a concert violinist and academic, has made a study of music in dementia care. He says that,
We tend to remain contactable as musical beings on some level right up to the very end of life.
He also said,
We know that the auditory system of the brain is the first to fully function at 16 weeks, which means that you are musically receptive long before anything else. So it’s a case of first in, last out when it comes to a dementia-type breakdown of memory.
In her last months, my husband’s aunt began to sing songs she had learned as a child in Sunday School. More information about music in dementia care can be found on the Age UK site – click here.
As Thomas Beecham said,
The function of music is to release us from the tyranny of conscious thought.
Music and Emotional Trauma
The link between music and healing are now well used in the treatment of emotional trauma. There is an amazing story online of how a group from Music as Therapy International encouraged staff at the Hope and Homes for Children centre in Kigali, Uganda to use different methods in teaching music to the children. See the article here.
In my first novel, Chasing the Wind, the reader follows the story of a folk musician who is abused by his father. He uses music to escape the trauma and calm his mind.
Music is a part of everyday life.
Plato once said,
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.