Our parish nurse Jan Sandos provides us with a monthly column keeping us informed of pertinent medical information.
Psalm 33: 2, 3—“Praise the Lord with the harp; Make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings, Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy.”
The Healing Power of Music
There is a health care field that uses music to address people’s emotional, physical, social, cognitive, and spiritual needs. It is called music therapy. Music therapy uses music in a therapeutic setting to accomplish a goal that is nonmusical. Music therapists focus on sensory stimulation with those who have lower cognitive function. For higher-functioning folks, a tone chime choir might be used, which promotes social interaction and community.
Music therapy can be active—the client and the therapist might sing, play instruments, or write a song. Music therapy can also be receptive—the client listens, meditates, or prays while the therapist makes music. Often, music therapists work one-on-one with clients.
Music therapy can reduce stress and anxiety, relieve pain, lower blood pressure, and relax muscle tension. For older adults, music therapy can ease depression, enhance language and memory recall, and reduce dementia-related agitation. Anyone can benefit from music therapy, from children to seniors, and you do not need musical ability to benefit.
Research has shown that people are most responsive to what they listened to in their teens and twenties. With senior citizens, that might include polkas, waltzes, hymns, and songs from the l930’s, ’40’s, and ‘50’s.
You can use music therapy techniques at home, too. The most important thing is to start with music you enjoy, music you listen to often. Suggestions include putting together a mood-boosting playlist or CD, starting with music you listen to when you’re anxious or angry, then adding happier songs in a major key. Or, you may just have a favorite station on the radio or music channel on the TV that you can turn on and listen to when you feel the need for some energy, or some relaxation. Another thought would be to find that old instrument you used to play in high school or college. Dig it out, clean it up a bit, and enjoy playing it again. It will give you a good sense of accomplishment.