Music speaks to all of us. Be it an A R Rahman or Beethoven or Indian Classical music that does it for you. However different our tastes we all agree to the wonderful effect that music has on our lives. There is an anonymous quote which says “Music is how feelings sound like” and it is so true; whatever be our mood, there is some music that echoes our sentiment often reflects the sentiment better than we could ever hope to do.
We all realize that the therapeutic effect that music has as and how even the stresses of everyday life seem to dissolve away when we listen to our favorite songs. This therapeutic power of music is used as a healing aid in the form of Music therapy which is proving to be an immense help for all kind of ailments from Autismto Alzheimer’s to Heart patient to Depression patients.
How does Music heal?
There is no exact science, which points to what exactly happens when we listen to music, but there is research on the effects of music on the body.
You have always de-stressed listening to the songs of Kishore Kumar or some favorite instrumentals of your choice. Now research just proves all over again, that music helps us de-stress! Research by three American scientists proved the positive effect of music in dealing with stress; they tested two groups of individuals that were going to be operated upon. One group had the choice of listening to a soothing song of their choice while another group did not listen to any music.
The tests found that the stress hormone – Cortisol levels in the first group dropped to 50% compared to those of the group that did not listen to music.
Positive effect on Heart rate and Breathing
Have you felt yourself getting perked up with, fast up beat music and calming down when slow numbers are played?
A research by Dr Peter Sleight from University of Oxford reported that music can bring different levels of arousal witin an individual, with the heart rate and the breathing changing as per as the complexity and the tempo of the music. The surprising part of the findings was that pauses between the music led to a deeper state of relaxtion than what was felt when the music was played!
Thus the research proves that playing songs of both fast as well as slow rthym with pauses, has a deep impact on the respiration and the pulse rate, which can be especially helpful for those with heart disease and Stroke.
Effect On mind
We feel fresher, energized when we listen to the happy songs; this is the most apparent effect of music on our mind. The scientific reason for this is the endorphins or the feel good hormones that are released in the brain when we listen to music that changes our mood and make it better. Along with positively impacting the mood, music also stimulates the brain and helps Alzheimer patients, even when other therapies fail. This is because music which is the combination of rhythm, melody, pitch and tone along with words or language stimulates both the hemispheres of the brain strengthening the pathways between them.
Music is found to help in pain management, such as in dental procedures as well as in labor pains; it is useful in developing communication skills in children with developmental delays. Music gives a form of expression to those with mental disorders and helps them learn important skills; it helps schizophrenic and autistic people to come out of their shell and interact with the outside world.
Now, what is Music therapy?
Music therapy can be explained as scientific application of music to achieve therapeutic aims. Music Therapists are professionals who have trained in music as well as in behavioral therapies. They are professionals, who learn about different mental and physical ailments and ways to help people with it by incorporating music in the treatment.
Music therapists generally work in hospitals, schools, rehabilitation centers, Cancer wards and Senior citizen homes.
Music therapy works in both an active and a passive manner. In active music therapy, the person who is receiving the therapy is also involved in the process by either singing along, playing an instrumental or dancing along the music. Music Therapy is suitable for those who have difficulty expressing their emotions as well as for those with Alzheimer’s and other degenerative disorders, as it helps to increase their body co-ordination.