Music therapy can help everyone from premature babies to stroke survivors
Imagine a garden early in the morning, the chirping of birds, the soft whistle of a breeze and the soothing sound of your own breath. Surely it's calming, but can it be therapeutic?
Music is an expression of emotions through harmonic frequencies that reach the soul. The right frequencies can make one feel happy, peaceful, sad or stressed. Music has always been linked to mental health and was considered to be a great healer in ancient cultures. Even Hippocrates, the father of medicine, is believed to have used music therapy for the management of various diseases.
With the development of technology, modern science is now finding tangible proof that music may be an effective medicine!
What is music therapy?
Music therapy refers to the use of specific frequencies or songs to promote the physical, mental and physiological well-being of a person. It is usually conducted by certified music therapists who have deep knowledge of the emotional and healing effects of music. According to an article published online by Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School, most music therapists are also musicians. They combine their deep knowledge of musical styles and with an understanding of human biology to find specific tunes that work well for an individual. And the best part? You can ask them to find a tune from your favourite genre!
Holly Chartrand, a music therapist at the Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital, wrote in the article: “I first trained as a vocalist but then decided that I want to be a music therapist when I realized that my music can support many others, just as it supports me… The favourite part of my job,” she wrote, “is seeing the impact my music has on someone who isn't feeling too well".
Scientifically speaking, music is a series of varying vibrations that create sound. As these vibrations are absorbed by the body, they bring about various physiological changes. Depending on the type of music, these changes could be good or bad. While low-frequency sounds reduce stress and improve immunity, evidence suggests, that loud noises promote aggressive behaviour and suicidal thoughts.
Bearing this in mind, several studies have been conducted all over the world to understand the effect of music on various physical ailments. Amazingly, most of these studies reach the same conclusion.
A 2015 study reported that long-term exposure to a frequency of 40 Hz — close to the lower end of frequency that humans can hear — significantly improves pain tolerance in fibromyalgia patients.
Research conducted at the Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine at the Beth Israel Medical Center, U.S., found that any form of music — singing or instrumental — brings down the elevated heart rate of premature babies. Although, singing was found to be the most effective. “Singing lullabies not only calm the babies down but also reduce parents’ stress,” said Joanne Loewy, the lead author of the study and director of the Louis Armstrong Center.
A 2019 study published in the British Journal of Music Therapy pointed out that carefully chosen music can help in improving the emotional well-being of stroke patients.
Though the evidence is compelling, there is still a huge gap between evidence and application. Music healing is still a new and unknown territory for modern science. While music is already being used to reduce acute stress and anxiety in both family care and pre-surgery settings but the real question is how far can we go with sounds and vibrations.
Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. To read about fibromyalgia, please visit https://www.myupchar.com/en/disease/fibromyalgia
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Updated Date: Aug 27, 2019 17:17:24 IST
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