Music therapy benefits people in high stress world

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Zach Allman

Music teacher Mark D’Angelo’s music students playing a relaxing piece of music.

Music and relaxation have been tied together for a long time. From relieving stress to helping with memory, there is a not-so-new therapy on the rise again in 2022. Musical therapy. And now more than ever people might need a new stress reliever.
“ I personally haven’t had anxiety, but my brother had and he used music to help cope through it… music has impacted me by helping me become a better person.” Said senior Spencer Clark
According to the American Psychological Association’s (APA) annual survey, Covid-19 has increased the stress of America to harmful amounts. APA says that 78 percent of adults said that coronavirus was a significant source of stress in their life. People have come up with many different ways to help remedy the stress of the last couple of years. Musical therapy is one of these ways to cope. According to clevelandclinic.org, a medical clinic website, musical therapy is an evidence-based treatment that helps with a variety of disorders including cardiac conditions, depression, autism, substance abuse and Alzheimer’s disease. It can help with memory, lower blood pressure, improve coping with traumatic incidents, reduce stress, improve self-esteem and more.
People do not need a background in music to participate either. Musical therapy can be used either by composing music, listening to music, singing, or playing an instrument – and this is not something new. Musical therapy was first used in 1789 and was first used in Michigan by a psychiatrist Ira Altshuler.
According to Taking Charge, a website about personal mental health and physical health, there are two processes that music therapists use to help patients, the creative process and the receptive process. The creative process is when the therapist works with the patient to create or produce music; they may play the drums, improvise music, or sing along to a song. The receptive process utilizes listening to music to help the patient express their feelings better because of their relaxation.
“ Music is like a getaway, it’s like a break from reality.” Said junior Lillian Zieger.
Musical therapy has been proven to help a patient both physically and emotionally in a number of ways. Emotionally, musical therapy has helped patients get over depression and anxiety that may have been caused by trauma. It may also help with improving mood if the patient is going through something tough, it might help in being more self-expressive and feeling less isolated. If the patient is someone who has trouble allowing emotions to come out and letting go of feelings that may be dragging them down, musical therapy has been proven to call up those repressed emotions. Depression can be helped dramatically by this therapy as well. In fact, according to healthypeople.com, a website made to promote a healthier mental life, having music therapy as well as TAU (a drug used for depression) has been proven to work much better than just taking TAU alone.
The physical benefits of musical therapy can extend from reducing pain to helping a premature infant to gain weight and sleep. For someone who may be struggling with motor reflexes or someone who needs distraction from pain, musical therapy can help with these problems and more. If someone has Parkinsons, they can partake in musical therapy to help improve their motor functions resulting in some more physical benefits which can include enhanced body awareness, coordination, and self care. Therapists can also help someone who suffers from anxiety by playing to the rhythm of people’s hearts or breathing. This can also help someone who is struggling with a respiratory problem.
Musical therapy also has the ability to help with cognitive deficits as well; these problems can go from lessening the effects of dementia to providing an increased sense of control. It helps ease the effects of Alzteimers by allowing musical memories to come back.
Musical therapists play music that is the most influential for them in their life, something that helps them remember the happier moments of their life. This works because while Alzheimers attacks the brain to cause memory loss, it doesn’t attack the part of the brain that associates music with memories. According to Harvard Health, music doesn’t just help you retrieve past memories but it also helps lay down new memories. Harvard records that when they tested elderely people, the scores after the musical therapy were far better than they were before the therapy.
Harvard affiliated neuroscientist Beth Israel Deaconess found that singing lyrics to a song can be really helpful to people recovering from a stroke, specifically if it damages the left side of the brain.
Additionally, musical therapy has been used to help improve an individual’s sense of control, it can also increase the coping skills of someone who might be struggling with a traumatic experience by giving them a sense of calm that can give them an island of happiness in a time of need. Musical therapy has been used with veterans across the country to ease the PTSD of the old veterans. MTFV (Musical Therapy For Veterans) has set out to help all veterans who have served the country and help with the traumatic events they experienced. Musical therapy with veterans has also helped the veterans with expressing their feelings about what happened with what they normally couldn’t with words.
“ There is this quote I really love “Where words fail, music speaks”, I love this quote because it really is true… it has helped me through so much in my life ” Music teacher Mark D’angelo said.
Music therapy can also help with Autism otherwise known as ASD which is a mental disorder that varies on a spectrum, but it has majorly affected the social skills of the person in question. Musical therapy helps kids with autism with their social skills and their communication skills. According to Verywellhealth.com, a website dedicated to personal health, therapy with music can lower anxiety and develop communication skills. While children with autism might not be able to communicate through words, musical therapy allows the child with autism to communicate through music. According to raisingchildren.com, autistic children can learn social skills like making eye contact, taking turns, and sharing attention. The musical therapist will reinforce this behavior with associative learning, every time the child does the desired action they will play the musical cue. After a while the child will do the desired behavior without the cue and the child will eventually not need the cue.
Musical therapy has been changing lives for hundreds of years and now more than ever the world needs a new way to relieve stress and anxiety.