Music Therapy: Combining the Love of Music with the Human Mind
Ali McBride, Sports Editor
March 8, 2011
Filed under Music
Music is everywhere. In your mind, down the street, in your best friend’s house, even halfway across the world in a little Chinese restaurant. Yes, it can be exhilarating to live your life with the constant flow of music streaming from your headphones, but what can music really do for you?
Music has become one of the most common forms of entertainment, but how does music actually make people feel? Whether it’s listening to an iPod or strumming a few notes on a guitar, music seems to make people feel happy. “Whenever I’m having a bad day, I just pick up my guitar and jam for a bit,” says guitarist and Bellarmine student, Jonathan Lee, “Why do you think that every car you pass on the highway is blasting music?”
Bassist and Woodside sophomore, Shane Hunt-Dusse agrees: “Music is great. It calms me and centers me. Stressed? Music. Happy? Music. Sad? Music. It’s always music.” Throughout his life, Hunt-Dusse has been immersed in the diverse world of rock and roll. He explains that certain genres and types of music make people feel differently. “The Fray, for example, is more of a sadder band, while Slipknot or other heavy metal bands give off feelings of anger and energy. My emotions change depending on what type of music I am listening to.”
Dr. Mike Miller, a research cardiologist at the University of Maryland Medical Center, performed a test on how music affects the blood vessels in the brain. In his previous research, Miller had discovered that when people are happy, the blood vessels in the brain open up more and allow for better blood circulation. After reviewing his test results, Miller noticed that the same thing happened when people listened to music they like. However, when people listened to music they didn’t like, the blood vessels actually closed up, equivalent to how the brain reacts when stressed.
Over the past decade, scientists and psychologists have collaborated on a groundbreaking method of therapy involving music. Through extensive tests, music has been proved to have a positive effect on people.
Because music has such a significant effect on the brain, scientists have used this knowledge to create the American Music Therapy Association. Music therapy is a health profession that studies the relationship between music and the human brain, and uses its findings to help people cope with pain and problems in their life. Therapists may require patients to create, sing, dance, or listen to music. The American Music Therapy Association states that by succeeding in these activities, it could “promote wellness, manage stress, alleviate pain, express feelings, enhance memory, improve communication, and promote physical rehabilitation.”
Music therapy is very uncommon in today’s society. According to Mark Whittington, a writer for the Yahoo! News, music therapy has been key to the recovery of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the rest of the victims of the January 8 shooting in Tucson, Arizona. Due to her involvement in music therapy, Giffords is now “able to mouth or lip sync the words to rudimentary songs, such as “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,”’ says Whittington.
When asked how he feels about music therapy, Hunt-Dusse exclaimed, “Every song and type of music has different feelings that get portrayed. If there are therapists that play music to help one with mental problems, even if it’s just to help someone with depression cheer up, I think it’s a great idea and I would do it in a heartbeat.”
Since its invention, music therapy has developed into a new and flourishing career option. Many colleges now offer music therapy as a major or a minor. All that is required to qualify to take the certification exam and obtain credential to be a music therapist is a Bachelor’s degree in music therapy and the empowerment to help others.
With the help of music therapy, many lives have been changed for the better. By combining the love of music with the human mind, scientist have created an innovative method to help the people who are suffering in this world.
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