What is the history behind it?
Music has been used in medicine for thousands of years. Ancient Greek philosophers believed that music could heal both the body and the soul. Native Americans have used singing and chanting as part of their healing rituals for millennia… The more formal approach to music therapy began in World War II when US Veterans Administration hospitals began to use music to help treat soldiers suffering from shell shock. In 1944, Michigan State University established the first music therapy degree program in the world.
Today, over 70 colleges and universities have degree programs that are approved by the American Music Therapy Association. Music therapists must have at least a baccalaureate degree, 1200 hours of clinical training, and one or more internships before they can be certified. There are thousands of professional music therapists working in health care settings in the United States today. They serve as part of cancer-management teams in many hospitals and cancer centers, helping to plan and evaluate treatment. Some music therapy services are covered by health insurance.
How Music Affects Us and Why Music Therapy Promotes Health
Music therapy is offered by a group of established healthcare professionals who use music in order to promote healing and enhance quality of life. Music therapy may be used to encourage emotional expression, promote social interaction, relieve symptoms, and for other purposes. Music therapists may use active or passive methods with patients, depending on the patients’ needs and abilities.
There is some evidence that when used along with conventional treatment, music therapy can help to reduce pain and relieve chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. It may also relieve stress and provide an overall sense of well being. Some studies have found that music therapy can lower heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate.
How is it promoted for use?
Music therapists work with a variety of physical, emotional, and psychological symptoms. As I said Music therapy is often used in cancer treatment to help reduce pain, anxiety, and nausea caused by chemotherapy. Some people believe music therapy may enhance the health care of pediatric oncology patients by promoting social interaction and cooperation.
There is evidence that music therapy can reduce high blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, depression, and sleeplessness. There are no claims music therapy can cure cancer or other diseases, but medical experts do believe it can reduce some symptoms, aid healing, improve physical movement, and enrich a patient’s quality of life.
Research has shown that music has a profound effect on your body and psyche. In fact, there’s a growing field of health care known as Music Therapy, which uses music to heal. Those who practice music therapy are finding a benefit in using music to help cancer patients, children with ADD, and others, and even hospitals are beginning to use music and music therapy to help with pain management, to help ward off depression, to promote movement, to calm patients, to ease muscle tension, and for many other benefits that music and music therapy can bring. This is not surprising, as music affects the body and mind in many powerful ways. The following are some of effects of music, which help to explain the effectiveness of music therapy:
• Brain Waves: Research has shown that music with a strong beat can stimulate brainwaves to resonate in sync with the beat, with faster beats bringing sharper concentration and more alert thinking, and a slower tempo promoting a calm, meditative state. Also, research has found that the change in brainwave activity levels that music can bring can also enable the brain to shift speeds more easily on its own as needed, which means that music can bring lasting benefits to your state of mind, even after you’ve stopped listening.
• Breathing and Heart Rate: With alterations in brainwaves come changes in other bodily functions. Those governed by the autonomic nervous system, such as breathing and heart rate can also be altered by the changes music can bring. This can mean slower breathing, slower heart rate, and an activation of the relaxation response, among other things. This is why music and music therapy can help counteract or prevent the damaging effects of chronic stress, greatly promoting not only relaxation, but health.
State of Mind: Music can also be used to bring a more positive state of mind, helping to keep depression and anxiety at bay. This can help prevent the stress response from wreaking havoc on the body, and can help keep creativity and optimism levels higher, bringing many other benefits.
What is the evidence?
Scientific studies have shown the value of music therapy on the body, mind, and spirit of children and adults. Researchers have found that music therapy used along with anti-nausea drugs for patients receiving high-dose chemotherapy can help ease nausea and vomiting. A number of clinical trials have shown the benefit of music therapy for short term pain, including pain from cancer. Some studies have suggested that, when used with pain-relieving drugs, music may help decrease the overall intensity of the patient’s experience of pain. Music therapy can also result in a decreased need for pain medicine in some patients, although studies have shown mixed results.
In hospice patients, one study found that music therapy improved comfort, relaxation, and pain control. Another study found that quality of life improved in cancer patients who received music therapy, even as it declined in those who did not. No differences were seen in survival between the two groups.
A more recent clinical trial looked at the effects of music during the course of several weeks of radiation treatments. The researchers found that, even though emotional distress (such as anxiety) seemed to be helped at the beginning of the course of treatment, the patients reported that this effect gradually decreased. Music did not appear to help such symptoms as pain, fatigue, and depression over the long term.
Other clinical trials have revealed a reduction in heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, insomnia, depression, and anxiety with music therapy. No one knows all the ways music can benefit the body, but studies have shown that music can affect brain waves, brain circulation, and stress hormones. These effects are usually measured during and shortly after the music therapy.
Studies have shown that students who take music lessons have improved IQ levels, and show improvement in non-musical abilities as well. Other studies showed that listening to music composed by Mozart produces a short term improvement in tasks that use spatial abilities. Studies of brain circulation have shown that people listening to music composed by Mozart have more activity in certain areas of the brain. This has been called the “Mozart effect.” Although not completely explained, this kind of information supports the idea that music can be used in many helpful ways.
Some clinical trials that involve listening to music have shown no benefit on anxiety during surgical procedures, although one study that allowed patients to choose their own music showed improved anxiety levels. One recent review of studies looked at the effect of music on all types of pain, and found a wide variation in its effects. The study authors observed that the best effects were on pain after surgery (short-term pain). It is important to note that not all studies of music use music therapists, who assess the patient’s needs, circumstances, and preferences, as well as the different effects of certain types of music. This may account for some differences in clinical trial results.
What does it involve?
Music therapists design music sessions for individuals and groups based on their needs and tastes. Some aspects of music therapy include making music, listening to music, writing songs, and talking about lyrics. It may also involve imagery and learning through music. Music therapy can be done in different places such as hospitals, cancer centers, hospices, at home, or anywhere people can benefit from its calming or stimulating effects. The patient does not need to have any musical ability to benefit from music therapy.
A related practice called music thanatology is sometimes used at the end of a patient’s life to ease the person’s passing. It is practiced in homes, hospices, or nursing homes.
Are there any possible problems or complications?
In general, music therapy done under the care of a professionally trained therapist has a helpful effect and is considered safe when used along with standard treatment. Musical intervention by untrained people can be ineffective, or even cause increased stress and discomfort