Music: Medicine of the Future

“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.” -Plato

Virtually every person on the planet listens to music. It’s everywhere in our current society, from shopping malls to sporting events to religious gatherings. In fact, scientists believe that it has been a part of human culture for as long as humans have existed. Those of you reading this article are probably most familiar with music as a form of entertainment above anything else. Recently, however, the use of music as a method of healing has emerged and the results are truly remarkable.

As stated by the American Music Therapy Association, “Music Therapy is an established health profession in which music is used within a therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals.” These treatments are administered by a certified Music Therapist and are catered towards the individual patient’s needs. Some of the methods in use include the patient playing, singing, dancing or listening to music.

Music therapy has been proven beneficial in many circumstances. For example: it has been used to ease anxiety in patients who are about to undergo surgery; extremely effective in improving communication and interpersonal skills in Autistic patients; shown to boost people’s immune systems; and in some cases, it has even helped stroke patients regain their ability to speak.

Another method of using sound to heal lies in the practice of Vibroacoustic Therapy. In this practice, a patient is exposed to very low pitched sound waves that actually vibrate their body. Researchers have found that when given to patients with Parkinson’s Disease this form of therapy helped reduce their tremors and increase their ability to walk. These results are substantial in the world of medicine.

An article I found on Healthline.com referred to a study by the Journal of Positive Psychology, where participants listened to either upbeat or sad music over the course of two weeks. After the study, those who listened to the upbeat music scored higher for feelings of happiness than those who listened to sad music. The idea that listening to certain types music has lasting effects on people’s happiness was intriguing to me and definitely worth noting.

I take it that everyone can agree about the power of music to affect our emotions. Think about how listening to certain music when you’re happy can make you feel even happier, or how listening to sad music when you are feeling down can cast you even further into your sorrow. Although these effects are powerful and can be useful on their own, they seem to distract people from the less obvious long term effects of listening to music. In reality, utilizing these long term effects can potentially lead to an increase in your overall happiness.

The benefits of using music to heal are endless: it’s less costly than most other treatment methods, more accessible, less obtrusive, more enjoyable, and it doesn’t include any negative side effects. For these reasons, I strongly believe that music is going to become the medicine of the future. I will leave you with this quote by Robert Garfias, professor of Anthropology at the University of California:

“The very fact that it is all pervasive and has been so for many cultures through the ages strongly suggests that music in our lives does much more than make us feel good or happy. It must be that music fulfills some important function in what we regard as humanness. It must be linked in some vital way to the health of the species.”

Sources:

“American Music Therapy Association.” History of Music Therapy | History of Music Therapy | American Music Therapy Association (AMTA). N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2016.

“Music as Medicine.” Pardon Our Interruption. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2016.

“‘The Power Of Music’ To Affect The Brain.” NPR. NPR

“How Music Affects Our Moods.” Healthline. N.p., 03 Aug. 2016.

“Listening to Music Lights up the Whole Brain.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2016.

“Fathers in Cultural Context.” (2012): n. pag. Web.

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