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Music Research Essay

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Music Therapy: Different Ways Music Can Help Heal People.

When dealing with emotions, we all have ways to escape from the stresses of life. One of the most common ways of escaping from our stress is through music. Music can sometimes have a very calming and soothing quality to it. Other times music can inspire us and pump us up for certain situations in our lives. Music is also used as therapy for illnesses. Whether their illness is a psychological disorder or cancer, music has been proven to ease some of the symptoms that these people may have. People who are suffering from any kind of illness are under tremendous stress, confusion, and sometimes they can feel lost. Music therapy can help with all of these problems. 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 U.S. Veterans Administration hospitals began to use music to help treat soldiers suffering from shell shock and to help cope with the tragic events they witnessed during that time. In the remainder of this paper I will be discussing music therapy and the effects it can have on people that are suffering from an illness.
Music therapy is becoming a very common practice around the world. In 1944, Michigan State University established the first music therapy degree program in the world. Today, more than seventy colleges and universities have degree programs that are approved by the American Music Therapy Association. A musical therapist must have a college degree and complete a program that is certified by The American Music Therapy Association. Music therapists can go about treating patients in many different ways. First they assess a patient to see what their symptoms and condition is and then they continue their music therapies. Therapists use many different techniques which can help with their patient’s symptoms. Some examples are having them write song lyrics, do a musical performance, play different instruments, sing, and many more. Certain music is selected according to the patient’s condition and the plan that the therapist has prepared for them. Some therapists will have the patient listen to a particular piece of music and then the therapist will ask him or her, what their feelings and thoughts were while listening. Listening to certain music can definitely provoke how you feel about a particular situation or feeling so you can see how this can be very beneficial for the therapist and the patient. Once the therapist has evaluated the patient and continued their therapy, the therapist will assess the patient’s progress and either continue therapy or do a follow-up. Music therapy can be very helpful for people to build communication skills and to build self esteem levels for accomplishing something new. The types of music that music therapist’s use in sessions can definitely help reduce stress and bring the patient a feeling of calm and relaxation. Now I will discuss a few illnesses where in certain cases music therapy has been successful.
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, when used with anti-nausea drugs for patients receiving high-dose chemotherapy, can help ease nausea and vomiting (Lane D.). 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 music may help decrease the overall intensity of the patient’s experience of pain when used with pain-relieving drugs. Music therapy can also result in a decreased need for pain medicine in some patients, although studies on this topic 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 2 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 while emotional distress (such as anxiety) seemed to be helped at the beginning 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. (Lane D.) 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 seen during and shortly after the music therapy. Another illness which music therapy can help with the symptoms is schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder in which social, personal, and occupational functioning, deteriorate as a result of strange perceptions, disturbed thought processes, unusual emotions and motor abnormalities. In 2006 there was a small study done in the London. Researchers conducted their studies on 81 in-patients who suffered from schizophrenia. These patients were randomly selected for music therapy and patients had 8 to 10 sessions per week with a music therapist. The sessions varied, some patients were supplied with different musical instruments and they were told to use them to express themselves and also to think about their thoughts and feelings. While the patients used the instruments the therapist closely observed their emotional and physical state. Then researchers studied the symptoms of schizophrenics who had received music therapy to the ones who hadn’t and the ones that had the therapy had significantly improved in their mental state (www1.imperial.ac.uk). Also this is different from your standard counseling therapy session because engaging in music with a therapist gives you that opportunity to express yourself in a different way than just sitting and talking with your therapist about issues. Sometimes schizophrenics can be very difficult to treat. Some prescription drugs may not work or their symptoms could be getting worse. Music therapy can be a wonderful treatment for patients who suffer from this complicated and mysterious psychological disorder. Another illness that music therapy can help with is Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s is a syndrome that can cause severe problems in memory and usually one other cognitive function. It is also known as dementia. This disease is on the slowly on the riser. Music therapy has been shown to ease the symptoms of people who suffer from dementia. Music therapy can help with their communication skills, help cognitive function and can relieve some anxiety and stress they may be having. When patients listen to music in their therapy session it has been shown that during their next therapy session they will remember lyrics to a song. John Carpente is the founder of the Rebecca Center for Music Therapy in New York. He is a music therapist and he states that, “Meeting individually and within a group, elder clients express themselves and recall the memories that music sparks and stimulates. By listening to live music and being involved in live music-making experiences, a greater quality of life is possible.” (Schaeffer) This statement by Carpente shows that people with dementia can be affected in a positive way simply with the joy of music. A lot of people with dementia have trouble with communicating and music can help them communicate in other ways such as singing and discussing feelings they get while listening to or playing music. Kimmo Lehtonen a music therapist says, “Music can function, for instance, as an interpreter of the [patient‘s] world picture without the problem essentially connected with verbal interaction.” (Schaeffer). This gives great hope for people having to cope with dementia. Giving these people music as a way to express themselves and ease the confusion they may be experiencing makes their life a little less complicated.
Music has affected people’s lives positively for centuries. Music is healing in every way possible. There have been numerous studies that show how effective music can be for people’s well being. In conclusion I have found that music is very powerful and unique way of treating people that are suffering from illnesses. I also believe that there is so much that is still unknown about music and its healing qualities. Music therapy is a way to help people cope with their illnesses and any symptoms that they may have. All in all music therapy is just another proven fact that shows how important music is. Without music this world would be. American composer Aaron Copland once said, “To stop the flow of music would be like the stopping of time itself, incredible and inconceivable.” Music touches the lives of so many people around the world and it will continue to do so until the end of time.

Works Cited
• Lane D. Music therapy: gaining an edge in oncology management. J Oncol Manag. 1993;2:42-46.
• "Music Therapy May Improve Schizophrenia Symptoms." The Faculty of Medicine. 01 Nov. 2006. Web. .
• Schaeffer, Juliann. "Music Therapy in Dementia Treatment — Recollection Through Sound." Aging Well Magazine. 2009. Web. .

• "Music Therapy." American Cancer Society :: Information and Resources for Cancer: Breast, Colon, Prostate, Lung and Other Forms. Web. 16 Oct. 2010. .

• "4 Ways Music Can Benefit Healing and Reduce Pain." Free Articles Directory | Submit Articles - ArticlesBase.com. Web. 6 Nov. 2010. .

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