Essay On Music And Health

Music Therapy Essays

Abstract Music is a very astounding aspect of life. There are many engaging studies into how music can help people heal from various physical and emotional pains and how music can be a way of life for people who are either deaf or for people that have Alzheimer’s disease, which is what I will be talking about throughout this essay. Music therapy, which was mentioned throughout a website article from the American Cancer Society, is a big part of this essay because it describes the importance of music.

Alongside with the website, I pulled references from the a journal article on the effects of music therapy for patients with Alzheimer’s disease, from excerpts including Moving to Higher Ground by Wynton Marsalis and When Music Heals Body and Soul by Oliver Sacks, Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, and lastly from the documentary The Music Instinct. ? The Magic of Music Both humans and some non-humans are moved by the undeniable effects of music and sound.

There are many aspects of music and the power of music which visionary researchers, musicians, and ordinary people are curious about; especially engaging are studies into how music can be a way of life for people who are either deaf or for people that have Alzheimer’s disease and how music can help people heal from various physical and emotional pains. The Way of Life Music can mean different things for different people depending on their aspects on their life. Some people go as far as calling music a way of life.

Multiple arrays of reasoning’s are behind people that call it their way of life. Their reasons can reach from being in a hurtful situation to being deaf from birth. People might think that persons that are deaf from birth can’t hear the music that rewards so many of our ears, but believe it or not, they can. According to Elena Mannes, the director of the documentary, The Music Instinct, a woman by the name of Evelyn Glennie who is deaf, uses the vibrations of sound to create her music because it is how she hears.

“The physical fact of vibration is a very crucial part of her life because it is the essence of her art. ” (2009). Music is some people’s way of life; take Evelyn Glennie as proof of that. Music, a Vessel of Tranquility Furthermore, different aspects of life can mean different things, including the fact that you could be forgetting the very reason why you liked music in the first place. For Alzheimer’s disease patients since they tend to forget things, music can be their way of life.

According to a study, for example, that was produced in 2010 they tested how music could help patients and they got results saying that music therapy has positive effects on reducing agitation, which is one of the most intrusive behaviors in [Alzheimer’s disease patients]… This study suggests that if nursing homes or other caring centers use music therapy as a daily program for people with AD, it may reduce intrusive behaviors in patients and decrease the levels of stress and burnout in caregivers. (Zare, Ebrahimi, & Birashk, para. 7).

Music for Alzheimer’s disease patients seems like a vessel of tranquility. The reason being is because everyone’s brain syncs up with music and if Alzheimer’s patients are listening to a slow paced song they would be more calm and compliant. Most of the time, Alzheimer’s disease patients are taken care of by family and friends and it depends on them which can affect their lives personally. Since an Alzheimer’s patient relies on their caregiver, if the patient gets agitated and lashes out at the caregiver it can end very badly to the point that they lose a caregiver.

So, by using music therapy it could completely diminish that possibility. The Perfect Mindset Additionally, music is very important. According to Dr. Oliver Sacks, a neuroscientist and best-selling author, mentions in his excerpt of When Music Heals Body and Soul that on multiple accounts, including a personal experience, that people tend to react positively when introduced to music. It is a mind setter that works to help become a way of life for people who have ailments that prohibit them from daily functions. (2002).

Music provides people with a way to encounter multiple emotions and in doing so, provides people with different mind sets. Mind sets are probably the biggest part of the healing process for persons with ailments. Being in the right mind set can lead people to heal faster or to just feel like they are on top of the world. In order for people to feel like they are on top of the world, they need to have the perfect mindset and the way to achieve it is by making them believe that they can diminish their pain and regain their strength.

Music makes people happy, so provide them with their own music and let them regain that perfect mindset. The Other Side Coupled with music being a way of life, it’s not only a vessel of tranquility, but it can also be a vessel of relief. Music therapy is when a music therapist uses music to improve their client’s health or relieve their pain in doing so. As a result of music therapy, music becomes a vessel of relief for many patients with different ailments.

An example of relief that music therapy can provide such relief, is mentioned on an informative website titled, Music Therapy, where they say that “Music therapy is often used in cancer treatment to help reduce pain, anxiety, and nausea caused by chemotherapy” (2008, para. 3). Music, in many ways, is truly mysterious in the way it works. Sometimes, it’s just noise or something people listen to for enjoyment, but there is a whole other side to music. The other side being that it can help heal the pain that people endure. It’s Possibly Madness.

Another factor, which tends to be commonsense, that goes along with music therapy is the thought of what kind of music to use to help soothe the patient. Knowing what the patient prefers can be a huge factor in music therapy because then the patient would be more willing to listen to it, remember it, and allow themselves to relax. In the book, High Fidelity, Rob Fleming—the main character—asks the reader “Did I listen to music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to music? ” (2005, p. 24-25). People really do not know which one is the cause and which one is the effect.

Not only can music make people have feelings, but also it can be the reverse effect of feelings or pain for that matter. If music can be tied to a person’s emotions, then why can’t it be tied to a person’s pain? A patient that is listening to their favorite songs, in contrast, to a patient that is being forced to listen to music that doesn’t appeal to their taste is more likely to feel better because it enlightens them and puts them in a better position or mood.

Enjoyment of Life Along with music being able to put people in a better mood and it also being able to help heal the pain they endure, it also can make them realize that they can still enjoy their life. Life is very important as so are the people that are in the lives of others. No matter what, people should always enjoy themselves and others around them, which is capable through music. Music is a non-biased subject where people that have many differences can come together and create something magnificently beautiful (Moving, 2009, para. 14). The creation of music is the source of all the enlightenment of moods and reducing pain of patients, which is why music and people who get along are so important.

As Bob Marley used to say, “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain. ” Many great musicians and artists live by this quote and it’s so true especially with knowing that it can “. . . reduce high blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, depression, and sleeplessness . . . , but medical experts do believe it can. . . aid healing, improve physical movement, and enrich a patient’s quality of life” (Music, 2008, para. 4). Music therapy is a necessity and people are realizing it now. The Beats of Life Music is life, that’s why our hearts have beats.

That is the direct reason that both humans and some non-humans are moved by undeniable effects of music and sound. The studies into how music can help people heal from various physical and emotional pains and how music can also be a way of life for some people are very engaging by many different people. Visionary researchers, musicians, and ordinary people are now starting to get answers on these engaging studies and can now understand life and music at a greater scale.


  • Hornby, N. High Fidelity. (2005). New York: Riverhead Books. Print.
  • Mannes, E. (Director), Mcferrin, B. & Levitin, D. (Producers). (2009). The Music Instinct. [DVD] USA: PBS. Original release date 2009.
  • Marsalis, W. (2009) Moving to higher ground. New York: Random House.
  • Music therapy. (2008, November 01). Retrieved November 19, 2013, from. http://www. cancer. org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/mindbodyandspirit/music-therapy
  • Sacks, O. (2002, March 31). When music heals body and soul. Parade Magazine, p. 221-223.
  • Zare, M. Ebrahimi, A. , & Birashk, B. (2010). The effects of music therapy on reducing.





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Music has a special power to move us and stir our emotions. Anyone who has ever wiped tears away from their eyes listening to their favourite sad song will know how powerful simple notes and chords can be.

Now, scientific studies have shown that music really can change our mood and even help us concentrate.

We look at the effects music can have, and we ask the experts what songs are likely to help you run a race, prepare for an exam or relieve stress.

Music matters

Listening to a song can have a real effect on various parts of the brain, with studies showing that areas responsible for aspects, such as memory and vision, can 'light up' in response to music.

'There's a very wide range of reactions in the body and mind to music, and brain imaging studies have shown that various parts of the brain may be activated by a piece of music,' says Dr Victoria Williamson, lecturer in psychology at Goldsmith's College, London.

'For example, a recent study in Canada showed that there's a real causal relationship between music and the reward system, a core part of the brain that reacts to stimuli, which are good for us – food, light, sex for example – and reinforces these behaviours meaning that we do them more.'

So what benefits can music bring?

Mood boost

Everyone reacts to music in different ways. One individual may love heavy metal for example, while another is happiest listening to Mozart.

Whatever your preference, a 2011 Canadian study, published in Nature Neuroscience, has shown that plugging in to your favourite music could help melt away a bad mood.

Researchers at McGill University in Montreal showed that listening to pleasurable music of any description induced 'musical chills', which triggered the release of the feel-good chemical dopamine.

'We all know from our own individual experiences that listening to music can affect mood,' says Bridget O'Connell, head of information at the mental health charity Mind.

'Some people listen to music for a boost on a tough day, while others might use music to keep them awake during a long car journey or to purge a negative feeling.

'The brain is very complicated – and there are many elements involved in feelings of pleasure – but it's unsurprising that research suggests dopamine release is linked with feelings of pleasure induced by music.'


Music may even be able to help you concentrate.

A new 'digital tonic' called Ubrain, which can be downloaded onto smartphones, claims to be able to help people focus, energise, wake up as well as relax.

The process uses two different beats in each ear to create a third 'perceived' beat (a binaural beat), which can stimulate certain activity in the brain.

'By helping the brain cortex to generate specific brain waves, we can induce different states of alertness, depending on what we aim to do,' explains Paris-based clinical psychologist Brigitte Forgeot.

'If we're feeling anxious or stressed, we can encourage our cerebral cortex to produce slow alpha-frequency brain waves, while on the other end of the scale, if we help our cortex to produce faster beta waves, we will be better equipped to concentrate and focus our attention on a fairly lengthy task.'

Pick up the pace

Listening to certain music could actually help you run faster.

A study at Brunel University in West London has shown that music can help increase endurance by as much as 15 per cent, helping to lower the perception of effort during exercise, as well as increasing energy efficiency by between one and three per cent.

The best choices for exercise are up-beat songs that match the tempo of your running stride and which can have a metronomic effect on the body, enabling you to run for longer.

Better mental health

Music can be an effective and positive treatment for people dealing with mental health conditions.

'There are two distinct ways music therapy is used: either as a means of communication and self-expression or for its inherent restorative or healing qualities,' says Bridget O'Connell.

'Someone who is very withdrawn may find that music can act as an outlet for expressing things that they're unable to put into words. It can also act as a stimulus to awaken buried memories or evoke emotional responses that may take weeks to achieve with talking therapies.'


Music can be a great pick-me-up for when you are feeling stressed.

According to 2011 figures from the mental health charity Mind, nearly a third of people plugged into their music players to give them a mood boost about work, and almost one in four said that they find listening to music on the way to the workplace helps them de-stress.

Paul Farmer, the charity's CEO, backs up the statistics by saying that the therapeutic benefits of listening to music are well-known.

Tuning in to one of your favourite songs can be incredibly soothing and help to reduce anxiety.

Patient care

Music can actually have a significant positive impact on patients with long-term illnesses, such as heart disease, cancer and respiratory conditions.

Numerous trials have shown that music can help lower heart rate, blood pressure and help relieve pain, anxiety and improve patient quality of life.

'Music can be incredibly useful for somebody who is in a situation where they have lost a lot of control from their external environment – say they are in hospital for a long period of time with a serious illness and less able to move around,' says Dr Williamson.

'It can give them a sense of control back, as well as creating a calm personal atmosphere and blocking out some of the disturbances around the patient.'

Which music?

While there are certain trends – fast upbeat music for exercising and slower-paced music to relax – choosing songs that have the desired effect is often linked to personal preference.

'The effect of different types of music on mood will largely depend on people's individual preference and experience,' says Bridget O'Connell.

'If you grow up with rock music, you might not find classical music uplifting at all. On the flipside, some people can't bear rock music, so they are more likely to be wound up than uplifted.

'Music can also invoke particular memories for people, including some that could potentially make them upset. On the other hand, it could also bring them out of a severely withdrawn state or act as a form of communication in place of words.'

There are some rules of thumb though, admits Dr Williamson. 'For a general rule, if you want to relax you should choose songs with slower tempo, less key changes and more predictable structure.'

Further information

Mind: Mind is the leading mental health charity in England and Wales.

Other people read:

MP3 players: turn the music down: what causes the damage?

Is loud music ruining your hearing: what's the danger?

Depression: treatments for depression.

Tinnitus: it can vary in intensity and be constant or intermittent.

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