Music Therapy for Wellness

Dr Manisha Sarup Kohli

Music has proven time and again to be an important component of human culture. All forms of music have therapeutic effects, though music from one’s own culture may be most effective. A strong scientific evidence supports the use of music therapy for personal motivation, concentration, mood enhancement, and anxiety/stress relief. Music is a powerful balm for the human soul as it is an important part of our daily life. Traditionally music therapy encompasses a specific set of practices, the broader use of music as a therapeutic tool can be seen nowadays as doctors are found recommending music for a wide variety of conditions. They are now prescribing Music therapy for heart ailments, brain dysfunction, learning disabilities, depression, PTSD, Alzheimer’s, childhood development and more.
Prenatal Development
There is evidence that a Pregnant women’s exposure to music has a great and significant effect on the fetus inside the womb. Such infants react more to music after birth. Soothing music may help the newborns to be more relaxed and less agitated, have increased feeding rates, reduced days to discharge, increased tolerance of stimulation. They may also have reduced heart rates and a deeper sleep after being treated with music therapy.
Music Helps Control Blood Pressure and
Heart-Related Disorders
According to The cardiovascular Society of Great Britain, listening to certain music with a repetitive rhythm for atleast ten seconds can lead to a decrease in blood pressure and a reduced heart rate. Certain classical compositions, if matched with human body’s rhythm, can be therapeutically used to keep the heart under control. The Oxford University study states, “listening to music with a repeated 10-second rhythm coincided with a fall in blood pressure, reducing the heart rate” and thus can be used for overcoming hypertension.
Listening and Playing Music Helps Treat
Stress and Depression
When it comes to the human brain, music is one of the best medicines. Listening to agreeable music encourages the production of beneficial brain chemicals, specifically the “feel good” hormone known as dopamine. Dopamine happens to be an integral part of brain’s pleasure-enhancing system. As a result, music leads to great feeling of joy and bliss. It’s not only listening to music that has a positive effect on stress and depression. There is a comprehensive list of benefits of playing music, which includes reducing stress on both the emotional level and the molecular level. Additionally, studies have shown that adults who play music produce higher levels of Human Growth Hormone (HgH), which is a necessary hormone for regulating body composition, body fluids, muscle and bone growth, sugar and fat metabolism, and possibly heart function.
Music Therapy Helps Treat Alzheimer’s Disease
Music therapy has worked wonders on patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. When used appropriately, music can shift mood, manage stress-induced agitation, stimulate positive interactions, facilitate cognitive function, and coordinate motor movements.
Music Boosts Academic Achievement
Early exposure to music increases the plasticity of brain helping to motivate the human brain’s capacity in such a way that it responds readily to learning, changing and growing. The music students are found to be better readers and are more calm and can concentrate well. This goes to show that in the formative stages of life, kids who study music do much better in school.
Playing Guitar (and Other Instruments) Aids in Treating PTSD
Playing music for recovery from PTSD resembles traditional music therapy, in which patients are encouraged to make music as part of their healing process. Playing guitar aids in treating PTSD, it is not in-fact the only instrument that can help PTSD, there is an extensive list of therapeutic music opportunities for people exposed to trauma.
Studying Music Boosts Brain Development
in Young Children
There are great beneficial effects of early exposure to music. Even half an hour of musical training is sufficient to increase the flow of blood in the brain’s left hemisphere, resulting in higher levels of early childhood development. Playing a musical instrument involves multiple components of the central (brain and spinal cord) and peripheral (nerves outside the brain and spinal cord) nervous systems. As a musician plays an instrument, motor systems in the brain control both gross and fine movements needed to produce sound. The sound is processed by auditory circuitry, which in turn can adjust signalling by the motor control centres. In addition, sensory information from the fingers, hands and arms is sent to the brain for processing. If the musician is reading music, visual information is sent to the brain for processing and interpreting commands for the motor centres. And of course, the brain processes emotional responses to the music as well!”
Music Education Helps Children
Improve Reading Skills
Children exposed to a multi-year program of music tuition involving training in increasingly complex rhythmic, tonal, and practical skills display superior cognitive performance in reading skills compared with their non-musically trained peers. In the initial stages of learning and development, music arouses auditory, emotional, cognitive and visual responses in a child. Music also aids a child’s kinaesthetic development. According to the research-supported evidence, a song facilitates language learning far more effectively than speech
Listening To Music Helps Improve Sleep quality
Listening to music before and during sleep greatly aids people who suffer from chronic sleep disorders. This “music-assisted relaxation” can be used to treat both acute and chronic sleep disorders which include everything from stress and anxiety to insomnia.
Playing Didgeridoo Helps Treat Sleep apnoea
A study published in the British medical Journal shows that people suffering from sleep apnoea can find relief by practicing the Australian wind-instrument known as the Didgeridoo. The treatment of sleep apnoea is quite challenging because there is not a single treatment that works well for every patient. The didgeridoo has been used to treat sleep apnoea and it has been shown to be effective in part because of strengthening of the pharyngeal muscles, which means the muscles of the throat, as well as the muscles of the tongue.
(The author is Associate Professor Department of Psychology Govt PG College for Women Gandhi Nagar)