Friday, March 22, 2013

The Power of Music: "Have Ye Been Healed"?

"Hard times call for awesome music." 
I strongly believe that sound can heal. I cannot fathom a life void of beautiful, rhythmic music. I marvel about how many people love visual stimulation, yet they seem to neglect the complex magic found in great recordings. And, I believe many of these folks have never taken the time to enjoy the richness of the listening experience.

Sound is a healer? Yes, I am a true believer that music appreciation can be great therapy. In fact, the field of Sound Healing is a rapidly growing discipline. The hope of music's curative powers has spawned a community in the United States of some 5,000 registered music therapists, who have done post-college study in psychology and music to gain certification.

Many of the techniques that are employed in healing with sound stem from ancient traditions. But, modern scientific research is adding to our understanding of how sound interacts with and enhances our bodies and minds.

Healing musical effects often occur in intricate combinations. These effects interplay in so many ways to please our discerning ears. Scientists believe it is the magical and complex interaction of special sounds with the human body and mind that give the impressive results that are achieved.

Artist, musician, lecturer and author Jill Mattson describes why sound is so transformational.

(Jill  Mattson, "Healing with Sound: The Transformational Aspects of Music,"
The Healers Journal, March 12 2013) 

Access the entire article. Click here:

Let's look at three musical aspects that have received a lot of attention.

Music Aspect #1: Intervals

"An interval is a technique used in music where two different notes are sounded at the same time. The individual notes combine to produce a new sound effect different than either of the two originals. This phenomenon is due to the interaction of the sound waves comprising each note.

"When the brain receives tones that are presented extremely close to the ears (as when you wear headphones) the brain can only “hear” one tone at a time. If you play a different tone into each ear then the brain combines and averages both tones, and you hear a pulsing sound which is the average of the two tones. What is thrilling about this is that you have just introduced “whole brain” functioning. Regular use of “whole brain” functioning has been shown to enhance intelligence and overall mental performance, reducing mental decline.

"Certain intervals impact our states of consciousness and produce different feelings. For example, a major fifth interval produces a harmonious, spiritual feeling while a major seventh interval produces a moody emotion and a minor third creates a melancholy feeling. Techniques employing sound intervals have shown impressive results relieving depression and other negative emotions such as loneliness, self-pity and anger."
Music Aspect # 2: Pitch

"The pitch of a note is how high or low it sounds. Higher frequency is higher pitch – corresponding to faster vibrations or “tighter waves” and higher energy. Lower pitch is due to slower vibrations.

"French physicist, Joel Sternheimer, discovered that: “while a protein is being assembled (in a plant) from its 20 constituent amino acids a frequency can be calculated…and transcribed into a note… for each amino acid”. If you play the notes, corresponding to the amino acids, back in the order that they are combined in a protein, a melody results. When the melody of the amino acids is played back to the plant, its growth and overall vitality is increased.

"Just as plants have shown to be positively affected by Sternheimer’s melodies, there are many researchers studying the effects of pitches and melodies on human health. Robert Monroe, (founder of the Monroe Institute), discovered that listening to recordings of specific pitches produced psychic phenomena in some listeners. The French ear, nose and throat doctor, Alfred Tomatis, demonstrated that higher pitches affect the neocortex of the brain – energizing people."
Music Aspect #3: Rhythm

"It has often been said that the human body is an orchestra with the heart drumming out the constant beat. In the womb, we hear our first communication in the rhythm of the mother’s heartbeat.

"Rhythm can affect our pulse and heart rate, breath, stress response, and the pace of our speech, gait and numerous other physical activities. A healing rhythm increases or slows our energy down, strengthening the elasticity of our pulse, helping us gain vitality.

"Our own rhythms can be a more complete expression of who we are than we realize. On a busy street watch the variations of walking. Some people bounce, others shuffle and a few march. Some are rigid, others flexible. Other variations include jerkiness versus regularity of rhythm, or a calm rhythm versus a rushed one. Our personality and emotions can be revealed in the rhythm of our walk.

"Words have rhythm. Our rate of speaking and associated movements is an expression of individualism, and in fact often show unspoken communication; the underlining meaning beneath our words. While our words may say one thing, our rhythm of words and body language can say another, revealing a deeper truth.

"Reinhard Flatischler, who developed the revolutionary approach to rhythm, combining pulse, breath, voice and rhythm, said in his book, The Forgotten Power of Rhythm,”The drum returns my energy by translating it into audible rhythm and thus completes a circuit of energy that allows me to connect with my own power.” The rhythm expresses our own energy and power."
Music Heals Illness and Injury

In another article (“The Hope of Music’s Healing Power,” The Los Angeles Times), reporter Melissa Healy writes about neuroscientists who research the field of music. One of the areas they are exploring is how music can help people with an illness or injury related to the brain. They believe they can use music to rewire the brain.
Healy quotes Harvard University neurologist Dr. Gottfried Schlaug as saying “Music might provide an alternative entry point to the brain, because it can unlock so many different doors into an injured or ill brain.”

Here are a few examples of what science has discovered through studying the healing powers of music:

• Music has helped Alzheimer’s patients remember pieces of their lives after they have forgotten almost everything else.

• By engaging the motor regions in the brain, music has helped patients with Parkinson’s disease to walk.

• Music therapy has also helped stroke victims that have damaged their speech centers to regain their word acquisition and speech.

Music Alleviates Pain

According to the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) music therapy is a clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions. Music therapy is used for the following reasons:
* To alleviate pain

* To elevate mood

* To counteract depression as well as apprehension and fear  

* To promote movement and wellness

* To express feelings

* To enhance memory

* To improve communication

* To make calm or make relaxed

According to Leslie Faerstein, Ed.D., LCSW, executive director of Musicians on Call, the impact musicians have on patients, families and staff at health care facilities is remarkable.

Faerstein cites findings from a 1983 study by Lucanne Magill Bailey on the Effects of Live Music vs. Tape-Recorded Music on Hospitalized Cancer Patients, which showed a significant impact on emotional and physical changes in patients who heard live music.

“There have been many studies performed to show that music can help to manage stress, reduce pain, enhance memory in Alzheimer’s patients, and express what people are feeling who can’t otherwise access their feelings,” said Faerstein.

Faerstein uses this example: “We saw in the movie The King’s Speech how music helps with stuttering.”

For about 1 in 5 patients who suffer a stroke, difficulty with speech — aphasia — is a lingering effect. Dr. Gottfried Schlaug, a Harvard University neurologist and other researchers have found that by practicing to express themselves with a simple form of singing — something that sounds almost like Gregorian chant — aphasic stroke victims significantly improved the fluency of their speech compared with patients whose speech therapy did not include singing.

How about helping Parkinson's victims? By engaging the network of regions that perceive and anticipate rhythm, music with a steady, predictable beat can be used to cue the brain's motor regions to initiate walking.

(Jessica Pasley, "Music’s Healing Power," Vanderbilt Medicine, July 2011)

My Take
We have decided to share our love for music with anyone who wishes to join in the benefits of listening and/or dancing to recorded sound. Offerings will range from Big Band to Rock to Popular Dance to Blues and Rhythm and Blues. We promise to use a wide range of musical offerings to appeal to all ages and all tastes. Senior citizens through kids, please attend.
I am calling this new venture the EAR FARM (Encouraging Aural Relaxation For the Appreciation of Recorded Music). In collaboration with SOLACE support group, SOLACE Director Jo Anna Krohn and I are scheduling club night/music night offerings in a clean, alcohol-free and smoke-free environment. We want the diverse community to share a few hours of sound healing every week.
SOLACE is a group of many different people with one common bond -- they have lost a loved one to a drug related death. Scioto County, our home has the dubious distinction of being designated the unhealthiest county (of 88) in Ohio. We believe that sharing the magic of music can improve the health of our citizens, young and old.
Our first event is scheduled for April 5, 7:00-11:00 P.M. at the SOLACE Center on Scioto Trail in Portsmouth, Ohio. It is open to the public and music lovers of all ages. We encourage everyone to engage in music appreciation and sound therapy. We hope to see you there.
Here is the link to click for information about the event. Please confirm you are "going" so that we can arrange the facility. Thanks.


No comments: