SAN DIEGO, March 29, 2013 ― Music is a universal language. Spanning time, space and cultures, music has been interwoven with the fabric of our lives since the early days of humankind. The sounds, tones, vibrations, and general cadences of music can bring virtual strangers together at all kinds of events and ceremonies ‒ such as baptisms, weddings and more ‒ in shared moments of connectivity.
What then, is music? According to Webster’s II New Riverside University Dictionary, music is “the art of arranging tones in an orderly sequence so as to produce a unified and continuous composition.”
Of course, the orderliness of music has not always been the norm. In fact, primitive music may have originated from natural sounds like wind, rain, thunder, birdsong, wild animal noises, and early man’s grunts and vocal nuance.
The first musical instrument may very well have been a caveman’s rock, taken in hand and being clanged against his cave wall or floor with unexpected delight.
It is estimated that early man began developing jewelry and other art forms approximately 30,000 to 60,000 years ago. It is not unlikely that music appeared at about the same time and developed with the other arts as an art form.
Theories abound regarding the evolution of music from a psychological point-of-view. Theories ranging from sexuality and survival, “motherese” and its communication between mother and infant, to Charles Darwin’s theories of natural selection, attempt to explain music’s origins and possibly even its purpose in our lives.
According to the American Music Therapy Association, music therapy began “as a healing influence which could affect health and behavior and is at least as old as the writings of Aristotle and Plato.”
Deemed the “father of music therapy,” E. Thayer Gaston was instrumental in moving Music Therapy forward, helping to establish college education programs in the 1940s.
Music Therapy has well-known, modern-day applications for helping people.
In her article, “Music and Your Body: How Music Affects Us and Why Music Therapy Promotes Health,” Elizabeth Scott, M.S., provides some insights. Scott believes that music therapy has great potential for healing or helping cancer patients, children with ADD, and many others. Many hospitals, physicians, and other health care practitioners use music therapy in their treatment of pain, depression, end of life, and other types of health care and related issues.
Music affects our brain waves, emotions, heart rates, and breathing rates. Music may even excite us to a state of joy, or move us to tears.
Another example of music therapy’s benefits is its ability to help those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia “communicate” with their loved ones in a shared, emotional experience through music, when other forms of communication are partially or entirely impossible.
According to Theresa Allison, M.D., as published in the March 2013 AARP Bulletin: “I’ve watched her (her grandmother) babble non-sense, but then bounce my son on her knee as we sing folk songs. For 45 seconds life is completely normal.”
Music therapy, with its universal appeal and wide-array of applications in health care, can be a great facilitator in the healing process, and may very well be one of the most invaluable and affordable “prescriptions” available to help us all live healthier lives.
For more information about the American Musical Therapy Association, its programs, and to locate a music therapist near you, visit: http://www.musictherapy.org.
Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!
Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, is President and CEO of At Your Home Familycare in San Diego, California. In addition to her positions as entrepreneur, health care executive, educator, media guest and contributor, Edwards-Tate is also a wife, daughter, and dog lover. Read more LifeCycles in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow At Your Home Familycare on Facebook and on Twitter @AYHFamilycare.
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