There is no doubt that music brings much pleasure to our everyday lives, but have you ever tried to think of it from another point of view? Have you ever considered it being anything more than a means to simple entertainment - a healing tool, motivator, or effective anxiety prevention? Have you ever thought of how it affects our brain?
Regardless of the specific features of music perception, the human body reacts to the sound pulses, changing our mood, behavior and well-being!
Music is not only made and performed to enjoy, classify, and identify oneself with an artist. In fact it offers a lot more, which needs to be appreciated and recognized. Music itself and its building blocks (tone, frequency, tempo, volume, mode etc) are able to influence our minds in a variety of ways, much more than we think it actually does. Music is establishing itself as a psychological tool that can inform and help us treat and discover certain aspects of the human mind and behaviour.
When sound waves enter the human body, oscillations occur in its cells. High levels of water in tissues help to transmit sound. Meanwhile the general mechanical effect can be compared with deep massage at the atomic and molecular levels.
So music, in which sounds, rhythm, and musical composition are subjects to the laws of harmony, has a beneficial effect on human health and development: harmonizing the world of feelings; healing the body; energizing; strengthening; and giving food to the soul – the spiritual experience; impacting on intelligence and brain, improving memory and speeding up the learning process; and in the end music prolongs life.
Treatment through music received a name – music therapy. Music therapy – is a psychotherapeutic method based on the healing effects of music on the general state of the person. The advantage of this treatment is a complex effect on the body through the hearing, bioresonance, and vibrotactile factors.
Music has been attributed with powerful healing properties throughout the history of mankind. Sound (and various rhythms) has always had a strong effect on people, which is why it has been used plentifully in various religious ceremonials, to reinforce cults, to heal patients through enchantments, or to help people relax while meditating. Evidence of the positive impact of music is to be found even in the Bible where King Saul ordered David to cure his melancholy by playing his harp. Music has also been used as a remedy for psychological and mental problems in ancient Egypt and Greece, where it was advocated by, among others, no-one less than the great philosophers Plato and Aristotle.
An example of a leading music therapy institution is the ‘Center for Music and Neurologic Function’ (New York, USA). The centre dedicates it’s time to developing and carrying out a lot of research and therapy techniques. As the center’s founder Oliver Sacks notes music as an ‘evocative power’ that raises our attention and emotional levels.
Music therapy is indispensable in working with people with severe speech disorders. For the most part, they show a lack of understanding the speech of others, which leads not only to difficulties communicating with others, but also to the emergence of fear of rejection. Perception of music turns out to be easier than understanding speech, because its content is transmitted not only in words but also in the music itself. In the mind of the listener there are various non-musical, often visual images. What is interesting is that for different people these images are similar to each other.
Among the biggest fans of music therapy is famous otolaryngologist Alfred Tomatis. One of his patients was a young Gerard Depardieu – the future famous French actor. At that time, in the mid 60’sof the 20th century, a young and yet unknown artist came to conquer Paris, and he would have had good chances, if not for a serious problem with his speech (strong stuttering). A. Tomatis advised Gerard to listen to music by Mozart every day for 2 hours a day in the coming months. The result of these music therapy sessions was just marvelous! Gerard Depardieu completely and permanently got rid of stuttering, which in the future allowed him to become a world level movie star.
Music therapy can achieve great results working with people with disorders of the emotional sphere. As is known, one of the main problems in establishing cooperation with an autistic person is the lack of attention from his side, being in a world of his own. Specially selected music attracts and organizes the relative stability of the process of human perception.
Autists are often very musical; they have a developed ear for music and rhythm. Greater commitment to the subjects than to the people for autists determines the effectiveness of an indirect dialogue with them through a musical instrument. Thus, they can fascinatedly listen to beautiful music for a long time and produce pleasant sounds with musical instruments themselves.
Music therapy is used in the treatment of hearing. On the one hand the auditory-visual perception goes up front. When a person listens to music, he can observe the hand movement of the person playing the piano, for his emotional mood, his facial expressions. This helps to determine the nature of a musical work (happy or sad), tempo (fast or slow), dynamics (loud or quiet).
On the other hand, hearing-impaired have developed tactile-vibratory perception. Even without special bass boost, the hearing-impaired feel the music, they feel it with their whole bodies through vibration of the walls, floor, and air. Studies by a number of scientists show that the use of music therapy on hard-of-hearing can significantly restore hearing; it increases the ability to discriminate speech in the surrounding noise.
Musical perception of people with visual impairment develops at much the same pace as for a normally sighted person. However, a more intensive use of their hearing as the only safety distance analyzer (except smell), which informs about the space, objects and interaction with them; causes a more subtle differentiation of sound characteristics of the world. Music therapy contributes to the development of auditory attention and memory.
In a 108-page studyconducted by the World Health Organization it is mentioned that noise is the second greatest pollutant in the world today. Is it that bad, you may ask? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. The reason is that environmental noise may lead to tinnitus, stress, cardiovascular diseases, sleep disturbances, cognitive impairment in children, or even death. Try to go in on a subway and just listen to all the noise generated around you. You might be surprised by how loud and annoying it gets after a moment. In big cities, the noise level regularly rises over 100 decibels, which is really shocking. In general, if anything is to loud – be it Michael Jackson, Justin Bieber, Beyoncé, or Beethoven – it affects us in a bad way.
The figures are even more shocking. There is an indicator known as the index of DALY (Disability-adjusted life year), the value of which can be coined as “the indicator of the number of lost years of life due to a disease.” Hereby, according to the DALY, coronary heart disease is caused by extraneous noise in the environment and took 60,000 years of life from the residents of the European Union, 45,000 years has been taken away from children, as the noise caused cognitive impairment. People lose 21,000 years because of the noise in their ears etc. In general, the terrible statistic tells us that in Europe alone each year 3,000 deaths are associated with disease the cause of which is noise! Learn to live in harmony with your body and let the music help you with that!
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