Music Can Be a Great Medicine

Rev. Suzanne Marlatt Stewart

I enjoy many types of music. Harmonic meditation music to soothe my soul, Elvis Presley gospel to inspire me, and Rock ‘n’ Roll to get me singing and dancing to my favorite tunes from the ’50s and ’60s. Music has helped me get through my times of grief and sadness these last months. Also, I feel so fortunate to have the DesertView Theater in SaddleBrooke that brings a great variety of musical entertainment. The theater is a short drive, no parking fee, and a great price!

There are some very interesting health studies regarding the effects of music, not only on humans, but on animals and plants.

These are the main positive effects of the influence of music:

* It strengthens learning and memory.

* It regulates hormones related to stress.

* Pleasant experiences and memories are evoked.

* It affects the heartbeat, blood pressure, and pulse.

* It modulates the speed of our brain waves.

Music’s effect on humans is far-reaching, tapping into our memories, subconscious thoughts, emotions, and interests. So much about our brains is still being discovered, but through neurology, we are learning more and more about how music affects us.

We all know that being exposed to music’s beauty, rhythm, and harmony significantly influences how we feel. Music emotionally impacts us, reaching into forgotten memories and connecting us to ourselves. Music therapy is often used to improve attention and memory and can have a positive effect on those who have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Check out YouTube—this format offers a great selection of “body frequency healing” music.

But how much can music influence our behavior and emotions? Research shows that music has a significant impact. It can potentially affect disease, depression, productivity, and our outlook on life. The influence of music on our brain is being better understood thanks to advances in neuroscience. It has been shown via brain scans that when we listen to or perform music, nearly all brain regions are active simultaneously. Listening to and making music may actually change the way our brain works.

According to the American Psychological Association, music can also play a health care role in physical well-being. “While music has long been recognized as an effective form of therapy to provide an outlet for emotions, the notion of using song, sound frequencies, and rhythm to treat physical ailments is a relatively new domain,” says psychologist Daniel J. Levitin, Ph.D., who studies the neuroscience of music at McGill University in Montreal. His research with Mona Lisa Chanda, Ph.D., found that listening to and playing music increases the body’s production of the antibody immunoglobulin A and natural killer cells—the cells that attack invading viruses and boost the immune system’s effectiveness.

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.”—Plato

Rev. Suzanne, a resident of SaddleBrooke, is an independent writer and speaker. She was ordained nondenominational, representing all faiths, her focus is “inclusivity.” Email her at [email protected].