Music is not just an enjoyable experience, it has the power to heal. In fact, music therapy is recognized as having the ability to achieve therapeutic goals by credentialed professionals, helping everyone from premature babies to the elderly suffering from age-related ailments.
Music has been used to heal many types of ailments, including stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia and physical pain. It has improved memory in stroke victims and even relieved symptoms associated with cancer treatment. According to Al Bumanis, spokesman for the American Music Therapy Association, music therapy is often more cost-effective than conventional medication.
Types of Music
While on the surface it may seem that music therapy is based on the use of tranquil, calming music, this is not necessarily so. All styles of music have been useful in effecting change in ailing people. Each person's musical preferences, circumstances, treatment needs and goals help to determine the types of music used in a music healing session.
"For adult patients, half an hour of music produces the same effect as 10 milligrams of Valium," says Raymond Barr, head of the Coronary Care unit at Baltimore's St. Agnes Hospital.
Scientific studies back up the healing powers of music. A study by Pietro A. Modesti, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Florence, and his colleagues found that just 30 minutes of daily breathing exercises along with "rhythmically homogeneous music" has a beneficial effect on blood pressure. And according to another study by British and Italian researchers, music can play a role in reducing stress and improving athletic performance.
Where Music Is Used
Formal therapeutic music healing has been used in virtually every environment, including psychiatric hospitals and health centers, rehabilitation facilities, medical hospitals, outpatient clinics, day care treatment centers, agencies serving developmentally disabled persons, drug and alcohol programs, senior centers, nursing homes, hospice programs, correctional facilities, halfway houses, schools and private homes.