Music to our ears

Music therapy has application in a variety of medical conditions, including autism, dementia and depression

As parents, educators, and friends, it is our job to see that our young people have the opportunity to attain the education that will prepare them for the future. Much of that education takes place in the classroom. We must encourage our youngsters in such pursuits as music education. Music education can provide students with a strong sense of determination, improved communication skills, and a host of other qualities essential for successful. Some people think music education is a privilege, but I think it’s essential to being human.

As I am a doctor, you may think I would always suggest a bottle of something for what ails you. However, first and foremost, I believe in the “do no harm” motto when it comes to healthcare. To me, that means to first try the least invasive route to feeling your best as possible, like a stress-preventing measure, special diet, or exercise program before popping a “magic pill.” All forms of music may have therapeutic effects, although music from one’s own culture may be most effective. In Chinese medical theory, the five internal organ and meridian systems are believed to have corresponding musical tones, which are used to encourage healing.

Recently in my wellness practice I saw Saurabh, an 11-year-old boy who struggled with severe social anxiety. His parents were discussing with me how to approach the teachers about making him comfortable in school. We had a 50 minute meeting to let ideas emerge. The father observed, “You know doctor, he loves Classical music.” His mother described a recent outing where there had been a lot going on and the child was quite agitated. But when someone put on some Classical music, he became completely calm. This story made me wonder how this piece of information might help us understand Saurabh’s brain. For some reason he couldn’t process all the sensory information coming at him in a busy social scene. But with the help of Classical music, it was as if the neurons, the cells of his brain, lined up and began to work properly.

Music differs in the types of neurological stimulation it evokes. For example, Classical music has been found to cause comfort and relaxation while Rock music may lead to discomfort. Music may achieve its therapeutic effects in part by elevating the pain threshold. It may be used with guided imagery to produce altered states of consciousness that help uncover hidden emotional responses and stimulate creative insights. Music may also be used in the classroom to aid children in the development of reading and language skills. There is strong scientific evidence supporting the use of music therapy for mood enhancement and anxiety/stress relief, according to Natural Standard research.

Here are five other conditions for which music therapy has been studied, supported by good scientific evidence:

Autism

People who have autism spectrum disorders often show a heightened interest and response to music. This may aid in the teaching of verbal and nonverbal communication skills and in establishing normal developmental processes.

Dementia

In older adults with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other mental disorders, music therapy has been found to reduce aggressive or agitated behavior, reduce symptoms of dementia, improve mood, and improve cooperation with daily tasks, such as bathing. Music therapy may also decrease the risk of heart or brain diseases in elderly dementia patients.

Depression

There is evidence that music therapy may increase responsiveness to antidepressant medications. In elderly adults with depression, a home-based program of music therapy may have long-lasting effects. In depressed adult women, music therapy may lead to reductions in heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and depressed mood. Music therapy may also be beneficial in depression following total knee replacement surgery or in patients undergoing hemodialysis.

Infant development

There is evidence that music played to the womb during late pregnancy may lead to children being more responsive to music after birth. Soothing music may help newborns be more relaxed and less agitated. Pre-term newborns exposed to music may have increased feeding rates, reduced days to discharge, increased weight gain, and increased tolerance of stimulation.

Sleep quality

It improves sleep quality and Alfa activity.

So it is obvious that music does play a vital role in our lives. In the hectic times that we live in, it is such musical evenings that give the required break and wellness we all look forward to.

Classical music has been found to cause comfort and relaxation while Rock music may lead to discomfort