Interest in Music as Medicine

I think that any music enthusiast would agree that there are definite therapeutic to listening to a favorite song, album or band. I know I would say that and would probably take it one step further and state that music is beyond just therapeutic ,but can be a tremendous force during out lives and can have a huge effect on emotional healing. It appears that certain scientists and doctors also believe that music has that kind of power and have begun actually treating certain people with music.

Using special music created from the relaxed brain patters of a patient, Doctor David Moore from right here in Chicago has been treating patients with anxiety and insomnia. He has seen as high as 85% of patients have improvement in their symptoms with the music therapy... definitely a positive sign. There are also studied being conducted with the terminally ill where music is used to calm and relax them, letting them spend their final moments in peace. The treatment comes down to the emotional qualities of music, often triggering healthy emotional releases along with a calming sensation and relaxation.

This story comes from the Chicago Tribune and really caught my eye. I've believed in the therapeutic nature of music for as long as I can remember, but these studies seem to be taking it a step forward both with specialized musical analyze and creation, as well as specific treatments and applications.

In certain circles the healing power of music has been practiced for years, going back to the very beginning of man most likely. I'm sure there's been previous studies into the effect of music in modern times by more traditional scientists as well, but I'm glad to see a story like this getting some press. Often times we take music for granted as background noise, or something that we enjoy... a pure form of entertainment... but there is so much more to it than that. Whether we choose to believe it or not, our music has an effect on us, sometimes positively and sometimes negatively (although it's rare I think that music is 100% negative). With future studies into how music effects us, we might find that there are even stronger connections between music, relaxation and healing leading to new treatments and therapies for a wide range of patients. It might even play a part in encouraging physical healing along with more emotional and mental problems.

Even if science had proven that music had no effect on us at all, I don't think I would change my mind about music therapies because I know it has that effect on me. Still, I'm excited to see that doctors and scientists are pursuing this. I think it can really help a lot of patients and so I hope more people take notice and consider these kinds of "alternative therapies" before resorting to medication or more invasive treatments.

There's also another added benefit to having the healing effects of music studied by doctors and scientists. Next time you are buying a new album or taking time to make your own music, if you need justification, just say: "Doctors orders."

Reference and source of the original article that sparked this post: The Chicago Tribune - March 9th 2008. "Music as Medicine" by Nancy Maes. Thanks Nancy for writing this piece and helping to expose new people to these kinds of therapies.


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