“Our bodies like rhythm and our brains like melody and harmony.”
A life not spent listening to some good music is a life not well lived. Or so do music lovers believe. A fact that enjoys wide consensus is that music profoundly affects our mind and in turn, our body. Moreover, there’s ample research now available to support this claim. This growing field of study and research is popularly known as Music Therapy. It believes in and incorporates in its treatment the healing power of music. For those interested in technicalities and definitions, here’s one by the American Music Therapy Association- “Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.”
In simple terms, music therapy helps you in living a better, more organized and a happier life by enabling you to battle and overcome disorders, fears, anxieties and various everyday challenges. Music therapy helps you feel better emotionally, socially, cognitively and physically. In the contemporary scene, we find cancer, ADD, depression patients benefiting immensely from music therapy and leading healthier lives.
From early on in our lives, our brains are wired to respond to music. Studies indicate that even infants as old as a day can detect variations in rhythmic patterns. Across several cultures, we see mothers using rhythmic rocking and lullabies to calm anxious kids down. Music precedes language, from a strictly evolutionary viewpoint. In addition, our bodies are designed to respond to rhythm. Our motor systems match beats in a music piece. This explains how and why we dance to music and tap our feet. Music therapists use our physiological responses to music to calm and relax people. Music also gives rise to certain emotions. Without even realizing this, a lot of us use this ‘therapy’ to feel a certain way. Even more interestingly, music enhances our learning of concepts and ideas! So the next time you’re banging your head against the wall after desperate attempts at cramming, just turn on the music maybe!
An increasing number of studies point to the interesting fact that strong beats in a music piece induce brainwaves to synchronize with them, with faster beats stimulating concentration and alertness. Likewise, a slow tempo calms one’s mind. In addition, changing brainwave activity enables one’s brain to shift its tempo according to need. This means a particular music track continues affecting your state of mind long after you’ve ceased listening to it. Changing brainwave activity also affects bodily functions in numerous ways. Our breathing and heart rate can be altered according to the tempo of the track. This could mean relaxing and calming effects emerge as a result of listening to slow tracks. This is a great way to counter chronic stress and promote relaxation.
Music therapy comes laden with another benefit that you should be ‘mindful’ of. It promotes a calm and positive state of mind, keeping depression and anxiety miles away. It is also known to provide a variety of other benefits like easing muscle tension, boosting immunity and reducing the risk of stroke. With a vast array of benefits and profound effects, it is little surprise the world is warming up to music therapy and seeing it as a viable alternative to traditional forms of treatment.