I have always believed that music has a powerful affect on the body and mind. This is because throughout my life whenever I have had a bad day for whatever reason as soon as I start listening to my favourite music or played my guitar I have felt better afterwards. Music Therapy has been used in America since the 1940’s for a variety of conditions such as mental illness and social conditions. Music therapists are professionals trained to use music as well as musical instruments to promote communication and overall health and well-being in their patients. Music can also help people to learn new skills, especially in children under five. Neurologists believe this is a result of music’s foundations in maths. An American study in 2001 by the Music Editors National Conference, (MENC) followed High School students who were involved in music either through their school or at an after-school club. The MENC study found that these students performed better in maths and had better verbal communication skills then their non-musical counterparts.
Music Therapy has also been shown to lower heart and breathing rates. A study by the Arts and Quality of Life Research Centre, (AQLRC) into Coronary Heart Disease found that listening to music can help reduce blood pressure and Anxiety. This makes perfect sense to me. If you have ever taught or taken part in a group exercise class such as Spinning the music is carefully selected to get the most out of the session. The warm up track usually has a steady drum beat that is easy to pick up. Tracks that are used for speed training tend to be faster then tracks that are used for hill climbing and the cooldown track is usually the slowest. Having a track with a slower tempo is ideal for a cooldown as it not only encourages the participants to slow down their pedal speed and reduce resistance, it also helps to calm the mind and slow down breathing rate. This in-turn will also reduce the heart rate.
The great thing about Music Therapy is that anybody can benefit from it. You do not need to be musical in anyway. The music used does not have to be classical music. If your favourite music is rock music or dance music, you can still benefit from listening to it. A competent Music Therapist would select music based on the individual preference of the patient.
http://www.lifehack.org have listed fifteen benefits of listening to music.
1. Music Makes You Happier. Listening to your favourite music releases the feel-good hormone Dopamine.
2. Music Enhances Running Performance. Just like the faster tracks used in Spinning classes for speed training, listening to music with a faster pace when you run will help you run faster.
3. Music Lowers Stress and Improves Health
4. Music Helps You Sleep Better. Listening to relaxing music will help you sleep better.
5. Music Reduces Depression. “Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.” – Maya Angelou
6. Music Helps You Eat Less.
7. Music Elevates Your Mood While Driving. Driving can be stressful, especially in a busy city like London. Listening to your favourite music while driving can calm you down.
8. Music Strengthens Learning and Memory. “Music is the language of memory.” – Jodi Picoult
9. Music Relaxes Patients Before/After Surgery. “He who sings scares away his woes.” – Miguel de Cervantes
10. Music Reduces Pain. “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” – Bob Marely
11. Music Helps Alzheimer’s Patients. People with Dementia might not remember what they did the previous day but a piece of music from their childhood can trigger memories from that time.
12. Music Improves Recovery in Stroke Patients. A study by the University of Helsinki showed that stroke patients who listened to music they chose themselves for two hours a day had significantly improved recovery of cognitive function compared to those who listened to audio books or were given no listening material. Most of the music chosen was lyric based, which suggests that it’s the combination of music and voice that bolstered the patients’ auditory and verbal memory.
13. Music Increases Verbal Intelligence. This was shown in the 2001 MENC study.
14. Music Raises IQ and Academic Performance
15. Music Keeps Your Brain Healthy in Old Age