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December 21, 2009

The Role of Music In Health
Ernest R. Rosenbaum, MD, Jim Murdock and Malin Dollinger, MD

Music has healing powers. It has been said that Music soothes the savage beast. It was reported by Capurso that Plato believed that health in body and mind is obtained through music. Florence Nightingale used the healing powers of music as part of her nursing care of the ill.

Music has a personal meaning often recalling or eliciting a positive emotional response. It has a universal appeal, is inexpensive and it also crosses cultural barriers. It is available by radio, tape recorder, CD player, records or we can enjoy live music. It can be listened to quietly using earphones so as not to disturb a roommate or aloud by using speakers for all to enjoy.

There is always a place for music in our daily life. It gives a special pleasure and enjoyment and improves our mood. It affords us a way of expressing ourselves in a non-verbal way which can give us joy, calm us down, or lead to great excitement. It can provide us an escape or reach down into our deeper soul and elicit emotions which are pent up.

For each person, and their relatives and friends, music offers a special way to pass time, which may sometimes seem endless.

It can provide a way to decrease stress, promote emotional recovery and provide relaxation. It can afford a means of communication, since almost everyone enjoys some type of music.

Physiologic Effects
Music can increase or decrease heart rate and blood pressure, depending on the tempo and type of music. It can relax and reduce anxiety or stimulate and heighten awareness. The intense emotions evoked by music can affect the nervous system and induce production of endorphins, which are morphine-like opiates produced in the nervous system. It has also helped relax muscles to decrease nervous tension. It can also reduce alienation, the feeling of isolation and improve self-control and confidence.

Both age and illness and its therapies can affect a person's equilibrium -- the psychological state, and cause depression as well as affect our spiritual and emotional feelings and social interactions. Music offers a bridge in helping to support a person through many of the crises in life. It reduces stress and thus reduces stress-related illnesses.

Emotional Enhancement
There is a type of music to fit any emotion or mood. John Phillip Sousa playing the Stars and Stripes Forever brings cheers and elicits patriotism. The Verdi's Requiem or Rossini's William Tell may elevate the mood and give waves of realization to reduce stress or help alleviate grief. Listening to Mendelssohn's A Summer Night's Dream, or a Count Basie or Turk Murphy Jazz program, can provide an emotional lift. Listening to the soft sentimental music of Nat King Cole, Glenn Miller, or Tommy Dorsey is relaxing or can provide fun as music to dance to.

Music Enhances The Quality Of Life
Music offers immediate gratification. You can sit and tap your feet to the rhythm, play simple instruments, march or listen to jazz, gospel or country western music. You can think of a tune you like and hum it to yourself or even sing it out. Pretend for a moment that no one else is around. Think of your favorite song, the one that brings back important memories-especially of someone close,to you. How do you feel now? Do you understand how powerful music can be in helping us gain emotional peace and happiness?

Dancing is another form of music and exercise which promotes emotional gains for oneself and one's partner. You can also sing songs, clap your hands, or even sing in the shower.

Music can be a form of communication which can be enjoyed with others. It requires no active participation, unless you wish to

Benefits Of A Music Program
1. Reduce boredom and disillusionment
2. Create and enhance a happy mood
3. Recall and re-enjoy prior pleasant experiences
4. Create distraction from problems of daily living
5. May improve the bonding between family and friends

Physiological Effects
Music can increase or decrease heart rate and blood pressure depending on the tempo and type of music. It can relax and reduce anxiety or stimulate and heighten awareness. The intense emotions evoked by music can affect the nervous system and induce endorphins. Music has helped relax muscles thus decreasing nervous tension. It can also improve physical functioning as a result of sensory stimulation and improved concentration and coordination.

Music Is A Form Of Relaxation
Music effects the physiologic and psychological aspects of an illness or disability. In the Bible, David the shepherd boy played his harp to help the psychologically anxious, insomniac King Saul relax and sleep. Music has been used to increase enthusiasm at football games, parades, and as a background for movie action, or to calm shell-shocked soldiers in World War II.

In Our Program To Improve Our Health, Music Can:
- help improve coordination, using music and physical therapy rehabilitation.
- give psychological, social, physical rehabilitation, emotional and supportive benefits.
- help speech training in persons who have had brain damage.
- be useful in reducing anxiety commonly seen during medical therapy, making therapy more acceptable.

Music offers immediate gratification. There are no contraindications to music. Persons may sit in a circle and can play simple instruments, or tap their toes to keep in step with the beat, or even march.

All kinds of music are beneficial -- there is something for everyone from jazz, to gospel, country western, rock or classical music.

Dancing is another form of music with exercise which promotes emotional gains from dancing by oneself or with a partner.

Music can lead to an opening of communication as persons reminisce after enjoying music.

Music is truly a vital part of our lives -- when we are well and especially when we are ill.

Reprinted by permission

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