The healing power of music has existed since the beginning of human civilization. Music has grown to define a person’s values and become an aspect of culture. Such a force has led medical specialists to believe in music therapy as a treatment just like any other drug would be. As a result, the music therapeutic field of study has grown over the past decades with support from new findings from extended research.
Music therapy should be one of the top treatments for common medical situations, such as cancer, and should be present in all hospitals.Music as communication has its beginnings tracing back to the beginnings of humankind. As Homo sapiens became more civilized, they developed language; as language became more sophisticated, communication became integral to society; as communication connected more people, it cultivated a new force called music, a language that unified people with more than just words. Various generations let music define their time period. If society can be affected largely by music in that way, the medical world would surely have a positive and growing response to music therapy.Humans already emote with music.
Take, for an example, a film score that brings back memorable scenes into viewers’ heads: Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, and Pirates of the Caribbean. For the Olympics and FIFA World Cups, there are thematic songs to incite enthusiasm in athletes. Thus, music has an undeniable impact on an individual’s mood. Music in general has an inevitable biological effect on humans. Sound has evolved together with humans, and the human brain has become accustomed to responding to music’s natural properties.The beat to certain types of music can “stimulate brainwaves to resonate in sync with the beat” (Scott).
Music is an experience for a brain to encounter. Just as a human being learns from experience, the brain learns from music as “faster beats [bring] sharper concentration and more alert thinking, and a slower tempo [promotes] a calm, meditative state” (Scott). These activities can bring long-lasting benefits to the brain since it is like an exercise. The music can affect breathing and blood pressure, decrease stress hormones, and increase the release of endorphins (Turner).The commonly used example of turning on Mozart for newborn babies for intellectual benefit is the appropriate evidence of musical effects on the brain. Contrary to the Mozart effect, new evidence and skeptics say that it is not exactly the music that enhances cognitive skills but rather the “arousal” of the brain and “enjoyment and engagement” (Hammond).
Although this statement holds true, music is, after all, one of the first resorts that people go to for enjoyment.In fact, “musical pleasure is encouraged by the same chemical systems in the brain activated by other types of pleasure” such as food or sex (Glynn). It is no wonder why, with music, parties seem more exciting, exercise is more endurable, cleaning is not as painstaking, feelings are easier to express, and people more effectively relate to each other. Music has the capability of controlling the mood of a collective as well as of an individual.
Similar to how DJs choose appropriate types of music to “set the mood” at clubs and parties, humans can “set the mood” of their minds.Smooth jazz on a romantic evening with a loved one, hip hop music to jam out to in the car, blasting rock music on a not-too-splendid day to wipe out ugly thoughts– these scenarios reveal the reality of the true connection between the mood in an environment and mood of the mind. When people interlink their own moods to the current environment, they become a group of individuals rather than just individuals. Such a phenomenon would be important in order to reduce tension between disagreeable people.The natural ability of music to reduce tension on a macro scale can also be seen at a miniscule level; music, specifically the relaxing and calming kind, lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, and relaxes muscles. Those who suffer from anxiety “experience more positive moods” when listening to music (“Music and Mood”).
These people include, but are not limited to, cancer patients, the elderly, dementia patients, depressed patients, and those recovering from traumatic experiences.The hope of improving moods of the victims of life – unavoidable adversities and medical conditions – is what drives the growth of music therapy. The implementation of music therapy programs would lead to a positive change in the cultures of medical occupations and any interactive environments. The use of music for a specific purpose often comes with the ability to bring back memories. The Charlie Brown comic demonstrates music’s time machine qualities and humans’ attraction to emotions no matter what feeling it is.
Music enhances memory and communication, and it applies to all ages. For this reason, music therapists are able to work with both children and adults in order to improve their moods or alleviate their pain. Music can also be used nonverbally for patients who have trouble communicating; it is “a very valuable therapeutic tool in [these] settings” (Turner). These forms of music therapy promote change in reticent patients to become efficient communicators.
To think of having an ambience of encouraged communication everywhere – schools, hospitals, nursing homes – is like imagining a world where problems can be fixed with nonverbal dialogue. Comparing the benefits and disadvantages of drugs and music therapy makes one reconsider alternative treatments. If music therapy is the first treatment doctors recommend, drug therapy is not the first treatment patients receive. If music is the first solution humans turn to for comfort, drugs are not the first solution humans offer to loved ones.Music is already a part of one’s identity, which gives us more reason to maximize the potential benefits of music. There cannot be a better opportunity when there are possibilities of manipulating music to mitigate pain.
There should, and would, come a time where people “choose [their] musical intake as carefully as [they] choose [their] food and friends” (“Music and Mood”). Music therapy and its implementation in various environments would keep the notion “Music = Good” alive. As Senator Harry Reid said, “Simply put, music can heal people” (“Definition and Quotes About Music Therapy).