The Healing Power of Music
Updated: Feb 1, 2019
In a previous article, we explored the amazing way in which sound triggers memories. Today, we go a little deeper and have a look at the healing power of music and how it has been used to help relieve physical pain, treat psychological conditions and soothe emotions.
Music Healing The Body
In medicine, the use of music in physiology therapy and pain treatment has been researched widely. A recent study shows that learning a basic movement task while listening to music can increase structural connectivity between regions of the brain, which directly leads to faster learning and longer retention of the learned skill.
This has amazing implications for physiotherapy patients who have to re-learn how to use their limbs or learn how to perform tasks with a different limb after losing one. Another study suggests that music can be used in treating chronic pain and can result in a significant reduction in the use of pain medication.
Music Healing The Mind
From the earliest days of recorded history, mankind has been keenly aware of how music can reach into one's inner being. It is definitely no coincidence that in Greek mythology, Apollo is the god of medicine AND music. Hippocrates, a Greek philosopher and scholar who is widely regarded as the father of medicine, used to play music for mental patients.
Fast forward to modern medicine, music therapy as we know it today found its roots in the 1940's. Countless soldiers were horrified by what they had seen and lived through during World War II and their post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) had made it near-impossible for them to be functional members of society hence they had to be institutionalised.
Community musicians would come to play music for them (because everyone knows a little tune always brightens your day). Doctors and nurses began to notice the marked improvements in the physical and emotional responsiveness of the patients and they discovered that music was reaching through to their patients in ways no traditional therapy technique could and decided to start hiring musicians to play for their patients more often.
Studies of music therapy and how it benefits the patient have shown that music can:
Reduce muscle tension
Enhance interpersonal relationships
All of which contribute significantly to the improvement of patients with depression as well as other mental conditions.
Music Healing The Heart
We all have bad days. It could be stress over bills, sadness because of loss or anxiety because of studies. Life can get really loud and music is an excellent way to tune it out and reorient oneself.
Music plays an important part in the developmental stages of our childhood, from soothing lullabies to fun nursery rhymes. From birth our minds are tuned to find peace and joy in rhythm and harmony, so it is only natural that listening to your favourite music will help you feel grounded, relaxed or even energised.
Music can have such a profoundly positive effect on our lives and we need our hearing to be at its best to fully enjoy music. A regular hearing test is just as important as a visit to the dentist for a checkup.