Music and media entertainment are two industries, which are quite interrelated. Music is considered to be more of an art than a profession. Both industries require scores of creativity and talent. In fact, most people say that music and media entertainment are an innate borne concept, and it would be difficult to inculcate these disciplines in academic settings. However, the two concepts are very important and are vital for human existence, as research has shown that music has therapeutic effects (Bunt, 2009, 54). This monologue will explore some of the therapeutic effects of music.
Music therapy is one of the newest fields of healthcare that applies both music and therapeutic drugs to heal some types of ailments. Some of these illnesses are mostly mental like depression, attention disorders, and also pain management. Apparently, music affects various parts of the brain, and this acts in helping a patient to deal with mental illnesses. Researchers explain that music beats affect the brain waves and concentration, thus, promoting calmness. The effects of any music beat lasts for sometime, even after the music has ended. A good example is how we can still hear a song in our head long after we have stopped listening to the song.
These alterations in brain waves affect the heart and breathing rates. Body functions are dependent on other functions. As such, when one function is altered, others are interfered with, too. The relaxation, produced by music would decrease the rate of breathing and lower the heart rate, too. The result of this is the reduction of illnesses produced, when there is an increased heart rate. For instance, high blood pressure, or even low blood pressure, is one of the diseases dealt with. In this way, music goes a long way in playing therapeutic roles.
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When one listens to music, the state of mind improves. This is quite clear in most historical studies. A typical example in this case is the military music band that was formed after the discovery of the therapeutic effects of music. Even with all the bloodshed and death, music was played in the battlefields to reduce anxiety and pain. Most musical instruments are as old as man himself, probably, due to its therapeutic effects.
History of Music Therapy
Music therapy is all about using music as a healing medium. Sometimes, therapeutic or herbal drugs are used concurrently. Its history dates back to the ancient times, as can be seen in most religious and ancient civilization writings. An example of this is quite evident in biblical scriptures, where most demons and mental illnesses were exorcised by music. In France, a 20,000 year old hieroglyph depicted a medicine man, holding a medicine rattle, which is a musical instrument. During these times, however, music was seen to be more of an art than a profession.
This notion changed in most continents during World War One and Two, where war veterans would engage in most music activities (Bunt, 2009). The types of music played were meant to relieve pain and reduce stress. The very first research on music therapy was done during this period. The results led to the acceptance and spread of the concept of music therapy (Patel, 2008, 201).
The very first college to train in music was, thus, developed, as music was seen to have positive effects on the cognitive, psychosocial and physiological well -being of war veterans and wounded soldiers (Wigram and Saperston, 2009). The very first professional organization of music therapists was formed in the nineteen fifties. The organization was known as the National Association for Music Therapy. Their main role was to work specifically with injured war veterans and make them feel better.
The organization later joined hands with other smaller organizations. Music therapy developed, and was now being used for cancer patients (Nygaard, Wigram and Bonde, 2009, 109). More research was being done on the therapeutic effects of music, and how to improve this type of therapy. This resulted to an increase in the development of such programs and widespread acceptance of musical therapy. Today, music therapy is a profession, taught in most medical institutions.
Anxiety and Stress Management
Research into the effects of music has revealed unquestionable evidence on the positive effects of music in anxiety managing. Apparently, music has a non-pharmacologic adjunct for anxiety management. A research, done by Chlan et al (2009, 81) on five critical adults on ventilator support, showed that patients, who listened to music, were able to manage their anxiety in a better way. Soft music affects the rate of heart beat bringing it to be in sync with the music beat (Patel, 2008). This helps in the regulation of blood flow, and anxiety is managed in a way.
In another study, Chlan et al (2009) also found out that patients did not need continuous playing of music. In most cases, music should be played as a result of patient request. Only a single therapy was necessary as too much of it would seem to be an overdose, which would not bring the required effects. Patients, subjected to thirty minute music therapy, were observed and compared to those, who received more than thirty minutes (Wigram and Saperston, 2009, 109). The latter seemed to have better anxiety management. For those patients on ventilation support, music was just one way of promoting patient comfort and relief from the many sedatives. If the period of anxiety is expected, music can be utilized as a means of pre-therapy.
To cope with stress, changes in environmental demands and regulation of emotions, related to this condition, are two paramount themes. As explicitly evidenced by the above discussions, music therapy has quite a high potential of influencing the physiological and psychological well -being of an individual. This fact in itself is the most effective way of dealing with the second theme that requires the regulation of emotions (Nygaard, Wigram and Bonde, 2009, 67).
Music Therapy and Brain Waves
The brain is the controller of every action in the body, anything that would affect the brain would definitely affect the whole body and it’s functioning. This function is so vital that, if there is no blood flow to the brain for a few seconds, the whole body would have a physical death (Nygaard, Wigram and Bonde, 2009, 109). The vibration and sounds, produced by music, not only aid in blood flow to the brain but also stimulate the function of the brain. Music acts in such a way to link the subconscious with the conscious. In this way, one becomes alert, and the brain waves help one to become active, and a quick problem solver.
Most researchers state that music affects the brain waves just like the complex rhythms, such as the ‘big bang’ (Wigram and Saperston, 2009, 109). The same way atoms were transported in the big bang is the same way music betas build in the brain. The beats continue increasing in size, similar to the size of an atom, and, eventually, take over the direction and speed of the brain waves (Thaut, 2010, 67). This, in turn, affects all the functions of the body, such as heart rate, breathing pace and even blood flow. This has quite an impact on mental sicknesses.
Music and Communication
Talking and singing are two ways, with which one can express himself or herself. Most authors of music explain that music expresses that which cannot be said by words. Music is a simpler but better way of expressing oneself. Research, done on this subject, shows that in management of stress and depression most patients prefer to express their fears and worries through music than talking (Wigram and Saperston, 2009, 109). Tangible proof exists on this claim in a research, done on war veterans. Most of them claimed to find their solace in music, where they felt free to express themselves. There is also evidence of this type of effective communication on patients, suffering from autism.
In summary, music plays a major role in the management of mental disorders, such as stress, anxiety and pain management (Hoskyns and Bunt, 2009, 78). It provides a stimulus for relaxation cognitively, physiologically and psychologically. Various studies, discussed above, give the evidence for this. Much of the literature available and studied overwhelmingly supports this fact.
Music also provides a reinforcing stimulus for relaxation, as the emotions elicited by music are compatible with relaxation in all ways possible. The findings by Burns et al (2009) show that music prevents mind from wandering, and, thus, patients are in a position to focus on relaxation (Nygaard, Wigram and Bonde, 2009, 109). Being an auditory stimulus, it is difficult to ignore, thus, brings the whole body at par with the music. It also affects brain waves, which, in turn, change the physiological functioning of the body. Lastly, music provides a more effective way of communicating, especially to those patients, suffering from stress. In this way, music plays a major role in having therapeutic effects.