The healing power of music. In newspapers across the United States, in Canada, and in Ireland music is being used to help patients relax after having surgery, help critically ill patients in intensive care units to mend, volunteer musicians are playing concerts at the bedside of patients, physicians/musicians are playing concerts to raise money for surgery costs for children and to defray student medical school costs. Students in the public schools are doing class work while listening to classical music in the background and classical music is being used to sooth pets. The articles are listed below with more musical tips:
- “Guitarist’s Music Soothes the Sick” (Nov. 7, 2006) by Gayle Worland from the Wisconsin State Journal. Classical guitarist, Robert Bluestone travels from Florida to Alaska playing music for patients at Hospice Care. Bluestone says, “Music is able to express things that you simply can’t say with words.”
- “How Art Therapy Could Help You Stay Healthier” ( Nov. 10, 2006) by Colin Kerr from the Irish Medical Times: The Independent Weekly for the Irish Doctor. Kerr says, “when used in combination with pain-relieving drugs, music has been found to decrease the overall intensity of the patient’s experience of pain and can sometimes result in a reduced dependence on pain medication.” … “Some classical music approximates the rhythm of the resting heart (70 beats per minute). This music can slow a heart that is beating too fast.” Psychologist Dr. Raymond Macdonald, of Glasgow’s Caledonian University explained that “when you look at brain scans of people listening to music the whole brain lights up like a Christmas tree.” Google points out the alternative medicine website www.oohoi.com which “poses the question, could music help us recover from our illness?” The web site Oohoi states that in 1992, studies were done in Germany, UK, and the US that showed patients recovered faster listening to music and felt less discomfort and anxiety. After World War II, many war veterans returned home depressed and mentally disturbed. The veterans greatest fear was their “horrifying experience of war. ” Many committed suicide, but others sought help.” Music therapy, at the end of World War 11, “was developed to help depressed soldiers returning from war. The treatment was so successful that medical authorities employed musicians in hospitals.”
- “McGill the Doctors Are In…Tune (Nov. 26, 2006) by Pascal Zamprelli from the McGill Reporter in Montreal, Quebec. The I Medici di McGill Orchestra was founded in 1989 by pharmacology professor, Dr. Ante L. Padjen and is composed of mostly faculty and students from the McGill’s Faculty of Medicine. “Padjen believes that the connections between music and medicine are numerous and deep , and has made them part of his academic research of I Medici’s activities, as exemplified by a series of “Biology of Music” lectures which he has organized since 1990.” Padjen’s “goal of the series is to explore and illuminate the many links between medicine and music.” The orchestra plays concerts at faculty meetings , in hospitals and in fund-raisers most recently to fund scholarships for medical students to help them decrease their debt load to make medical school accessible.
- “Musical Docs….” (Nov. 17, 2006) by Keren Engleberg from the Jewish Journal. The Los Angeles Doctors Symphony Orchestra established in 1953 is mostly composed of medical doctors, health professionals, and dentists . Their recent concert on Nov. 19 was to help fund Operation Smile, “a nonprofit organization of doctors that works to repair facial deformities in children around the world.”
- “ASPCA’s Redesigned Shelter Puts Both Pets, People at Ease” (Nov. 28, 2006) by Melissa Rayworth at The Clarion-Ledger, The Associated Press. Rayworth says playing the classical music for the animals makes them “calmer and happier at the ASPCA’s new facility, they’re more likely to exhibit their true personalities. And their happiness, coupled with the absence of loud barking and foul odors, is thought to help their health.”
- “Grant to Philharmonic to Help Expose Berwick Area Youth to Classical Music (Nov. 26, 2006)from the TimesLeader.Com Northeastern Pennsylvania’s Home Page. The article states, “grant funds will be used to introduce more young people from the greater Berwick area to the healthful benefits of experiencing classical music.”
- “The Art of Healing” (Oct. 22, 2006) by Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer from the Clovis News Journal serving Eastern New Mexico and West Texas. Davide Cabassi , a classical pianist and finalist at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition played a concert at the Clovis Community College for the Arts in Healing program. Hartz says, “The Italy native said in times of sickness he turns to his piano and music for comfort.” Cabassi contracted a bone-eating virus at the age of 9 and was unable to walk. During this time he “glued himself to the keyboard,” says Hartz. Cabassi, “I was pretty sick as a kid. Then I started to play. What saved me, was discipline.” Hartz says, “Mastering the piano remained his outlet, even after the virus left his body. Later in life the artist dealt with depression.” Cabassi said, “Again, it was this box,”…pointing to the piano, that took me out.” Nola Pawol, Plains Regional Medical Center administrator and physical therapist agrees with Cabassi. “Dedication is essential in recovery. It takes a strong desire to recover if you have one side of your body paralyzed.” One of the audience, Louise Snell, 88, after Cabassi’s performance stated it this way, “Music is a part of the soul, it takes you from the lowest depths to the highest heaven.”
- “Try Music to Heal Body and Mind” (Nov. 14, 2006) from the Detroit News Online. The October issue of Health of Consumer Reports stated the following: “Listening to soothing music causes your pulse and breathing rate to slow down substantially. That can lead to better sleep, less short-term pain, and an easing of Alzheimer’s symptoms.” Consumer Reports Tips on getting the most out of your time with music: “Choose music you find relaxing. Studies have shown that classical or meditative music with soft, flowing rhythms are effective. Consider headphones to help block out other sounds. Get comfortable, and give it time-at least 30 minutes while lying down.”
- “Sounds Good , Music Calms the Savage Pain Beast” (Nov/Dec. 2006) from Arthritis Today. Steven Stanos, medical director, osteopathic physician, at the Chronic Pain Care Center at Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago says, “We think music stimulates areas of the brain that are responsible for releasing the body’s own painkillers. Music stimulates the periaqueductal gray (PAG) area in the mid-brain, which is where we have our own opiod system
- “Musician Plays the Melody of Love” (March 14, 2006) by Johanna Wilson from Myrtle BeachOnline in Bolivia, North Carolina. Frankie Gerald Accurso , an accordionist , shares his music with senior citizens ravaged by Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. He plays music for them and they start to remember. After a performance for the Greenwhich Parkinson’s Support Group picnic, Louis Kasdan, secretary of the Greenwhich Parkinson’s Support Group, wrote “Through such delightful alchemy you transformed all of us into singing, dancing and laughing collection of trouble- free youngsters who enjoyed every minute of a most pleasant afternoon.”
- “Musicians Offer Sounds to Soothe” (March 1, 2006) by Lori Carter from the Orlando Sentinel in Central Florida. Tina Larkin, harpist and David Roberts, violinist have been playing music for patients at Lake County Oncology and Hematology Cancer Center for the Centers healing therapy program. Verlon Eason is a certified music practitioner and a harpist playing at Orlando Regional Medical Center and two other hospitals in the area . She says, “I’m interested in educating the public to let them know how… music and the arts can be very healing and therapeutic for patients. It releases endorphins in the brain, which gives you an overall sense of wellness. It regulates the heartbeat and stabilizes it.” She goes on to say, “With cancer patients it releases stress, fear and worry, and it creates a sense of hope within a person—everyone needs hope.”
Classroom Update On Using Classical Music in the Public School Classrooms
- Mrs. JC had her fourth grade reading class, 22 in the class, listening to classical music, Mozart, during class for the entire school year. The children have consistently made 100’s on tests and work. These are just average students not exceptional.
- Mrs. G had her fifth grade students listening to classical music, played softly, while the children did creative writing assignments and when they did problem solving in math. It created a calm atmosphere conducive to problem solving and creative thinking as well as an appreciation of music that they might not have experienced. The results were so good that she incorporated this into her teaching for five year.
If anyone has a good experience to share on their experience with classical music please write me and I will include it in the January 2007 newsletter.