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Improving Our Wellbeing with Music

By Jay Anderson, MT-BC

“Music gives soul to the Universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.” –Plato

Wow! Plato said this circa 500 BC, well before Mozart, Edith Piaf, Louis Armstrong, Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Sam Cooke, Don Ho, The Beatles, Billie Holiday, Lady Gaga, Mp3 players, unlimited streaming…and the list goes on.

Great music endures and magically somehow transfers expression and imprints feelings and memories on the listener. It is nearly impossible for the mind to conceive, much less count, the many different kinds of music that exist worldwide. The volume and variety of music written, sung and played throughout human history is truly staggering. Music is happening somewhere in the world every second; while I wrote this article, and now, while you read it. Humans thrive and live with music.

Music means different things to each person. It represents limitless combinations of time, place and feelings of the human family. Unfolding moment to moment, music is expressive energy relayed acoustically and then reflected to one another, conveying behaviors, ideas and cultural cues. Music is the aural mirror of civilization. We have listened, danced, wept, worked, made love, worshiped, gotten married, broken up, buried loved ones, celebrated life, studied, written poems, shared songs, reminisced, meditated, done yoga, laughed, eaten, drunk, and jogged with music. Throughout history, people have experienced through music the breadth of emotions, the peak of physical potential and profound depths of mind. And we continue to do so today.

A special song or musical piece transports us back in mind and heart to the very moment we heard it for the first time. Music can be a magical mystery time machine with musical notes, phrases, lyrics and rhythmic beat as the gears, switches, levers and dials. We can choose different music to affect and enhance memories and emotion. This incredible fact holds awesome implications for health and well being.

How could a thoughtfully selected music play list subtly or even radically benefit our mental and physical wellbeing and the lens through which we view life? Science proves that listening to music affects blood pressure, skin temperature, heart rate, anxiety level, stamina, cognitive recall and mood. It behooves us to choose our music listening wisely! We make physiological, mental, emotional and spiritual connections through music. Our Inner Healer can be nurtured with carefully selected music. Rich harmonies and soaring strings inspire our dreams and actions. Rhythmic auditory stimulation and singing is used to improve speech. Gait is steadied with calculated rhythmic tempo. Memories are enhanced with music of youth. Cognitive skills can be developed and regained with appropriately chosen musical exercises and games. Scheduled or spontaneous music listening with others may avert depression and isolation.

Music is like air, it’s all around us and easily accessible. It is understandable that at times it is taken for granted and merely thought of as fun or background. Once the ears and mind are genuinely open and we begin to consciously utilize the powerful aural energy music wields, the potential for health benefits become real. Science is proving the magic and art of music.

Jay Anderson is a music therapist and member of the American Music Therapy Association. For more information contact janderson@mindingmusic.com or (760) 834.1164.

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