Music is a universal language shared and understood across all countries and cultures. It can help express emotions and create an array of reactions, ranging from relaxed feelings to the most motivated ones. Apart from this, music can be used therapeutically for people who face difficulties physically, emotionally, cognitively or socially (Bodner). There is some difficulty when defining the concept of music therapy because there are numerous definitions out there concerning to this practice. According to the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) "Music therapy is an established health profession in which music is used in a therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs of individuals" (Ronna). This includes addressing mental and physical problems such as: self-awareness, spiritual enhancement, social and interpersonal development, and motor skills (Ronna). This type of therapy is used in many settings, such as schools, hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and even at the comfort of people's own homes. Patients do not need to have any previous musical knowledge or experience to reap the health benefits from music therapy (Bodner). Some of the procedures involved with music therapy to help patients are singing aloud, creating sounds, listening to various types of music, composing songs, dancing to songs, and discussing lyrics (Bodner).
Songs of Love is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free, personalized, original songs to uplift children and teens currently facing tough medical, physical, or emotional challenges. Each CD is professionally produced with lyrics containing the child's name and references to all of his or her favorite activities, things, people, and pets. The songs are written and performed in the musical style that the child likes best by a variety of talented professionals.
The organization was created in New York in 1996 by John Beltzer, and has since reached out to more than 20,000 children in 500-plus hospitals and health care facilities in all 50 states. Since 2007, Songs of Love started to reach children in Brazil, having provided more than 200 songs for the children of Casa Hope, GRAACC, Santa Catarina Hospital, Santa Casa de Sao Paulo and other facilities.
The songs have often been played to alleviate pain and trauma during painful and scary hospital treatments. The song recipients have played their "songs of love" in all kinds of situations and settings such as car trips to the hospital, show and tell at school, for family and friends in person or on the phone, and even for the doctors and nurses. The children have their "songs of love" always available to them whenever they are feeling down. One child in particular by the name of Destiny, who received treatment at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville for a rare bone disease, had no idea about the extent to which she would recover after listening to a CD that was exclusively dedicated to her.
Songs of Love has received much attention from the media. Various talk show hosts has broadcasted Songs of Love on the air such as Regis Philbin, Dan Rather, and Ayla Brown. Since it is a non-profit organization, Songs of Love has received numerous donations from many donors. The MDRT Foundation has donated $25,000 to the organization. In 2009 alone, 2,400 cars were donated to produce CD's to sick and weary children.
Many people are actually completely unaware of how music was first used as a method of therapy and the powerful healing effects it can have on the human's mind and body. Using music to heal the body and mind can be traced all the way back to Ancient Greek philosophers and Native Americans (Bodner). They understood that different forms of music could be used as therapy. It was more formally used after World War I and World War II in veterans hospitals around the country to help thousands of soldiers suffering from emotionally traumatic events after the wars (Ronna). Doctors and nurses noticed the increase music had on the patients' physical and emotional overall well-beings (Ronna). Music was beginning to be recognized for its therapeutic benefits. Michigan State established the first music therapy degree program in the world in 1944 (Bodner) and in 1950, the National Association for Music Therapy was founded in New York (Ronna). This now meant that people could obtain an actually degree in music therapy that including standards for university-level educational and clinical training requirements. Finally, in 1971, the American Association for Music Therapy was established and focussed on the philosophy, the education, and the approach of music therapy (Ronna). The evolution of music has introduced a new kind of therapy containing many health benefits including reducing stress, enhancing mental state, and heightening brain activity.
While music has been used for many different reasons, one of the most prevalent uses in the medical field is to reduce stress. There are many various types of stress even happy and positive experiences can bring on a heavy deal of stress which can effect all ages from infants to elderlies (Davis). Music has always been a release for people whether it be soft, light classical music, loud heavy metal rock or soothing acoustic guitar. Relaxing with music leads to decreased muscle tensions and increased blood levels of endorphins (Schneck). Endorphins are the body's natural pain killers and increase a person's level of happiness (Davis). Stress causes a person to have a lot of tension within their body and makes a person feels heavy and weak. By using music therapy it relaxes the muscles and distracts the mind from being focussed on a person's stress (Schneck). Stress can be extremely reduced by using the practice of music therapy.
Another reason music therapy can be beneficial to people is that it enhances the mental state by fighting depression, relieving anxiety, improving learning abilities, and boosting confidence. Depression lowers brain activity and hampers the mind's ability to plan and perform various tasks (Oak). Deficiency of the needed neurotransmitter, Serotonin, results in a depressed state of mind (Oak). Soothing musical notes help increase the Serotonin levels of the brain which would alleviate mental depression (Oak). Also, natural musical notes are known to make the mind alert (Darnley-Smith). Basically, depression causes the brain to fall weary and sleepy and music is an alarm clock that wakes it back up.
Along with alleviating depression from a person, music also relieves anxiety. Anxiety is a feeling of fear or uncertainty that clouds your mind (Oak). This nervous feeling is mostly created about an upcoming event having an unknown outcome (Oak). Often times people feel anxious about school exams, presentations at work, a public event with many attendants, or the pressures of life building up. Increased anxiety levels can take a tole of a person's body. Physical sickness and sleepiness are ways the body tries to fight off these feelings of anxiety (Darnley-Smith). Some people can even experience dangerous anxiety disorders which really hinders a person to do simple daily activities (Darnley-Smith). Music calms the body's nerves and soothes the mind (Oak). The music effect can truly help a person with anxiety.
An additional beneficial factor music has on the mental state is that is improves learning abilities. The process of learning and thinking is affected by music (Darnley-Smith). Listening to quiet and soothing music while working on homework or studying for a test helps you work faster and more efficiently (Darnley-Smith). Many people obtain positive feelings and feel intensely motivated (Oak). According the American Music Therapy Society, "Research has shown that music brings about remarkable improvements in the academic skills of students, who are made to listen to certain kinds of music while studying or working in the lab" (Ronna). Listening to pleasant music, while struggling through a difficult project, can make it seem easier and less over bearing (Oak). Learning abilities can have a major improvement through the use of music therapy.
Boosting confidence is the final reason music therapy is beneficial to a person's mental state. "Music has a positive effect on the interpersonal skills of an in individual" (Oak). Most often the reason behind many failures is the lack of confidence or the undesired motive to learn. Just because a student receives poor grades on homework or tests does not necessarily mean that person lacks intelligence. It's their disinterest in a certain subject or lack of motivation that leads to poor academic performance in school (Davis). Listening to music during a school day can help students fights their mental block and encourage students to take on new accomplishments (Davis). It increases their capacity to believe in themselves which boosts the overall confidence. (Oak). Music therapy can help the metal state of a person by boosting their confidence.
Finally, the last health benefit is that music therapy heightens brain activity by increasing concentration levels, improves memory, increases creativity and problem-solving skills, and makes learning easier. Music is known to help concentration levels and improve memory (Schneck). The silence between two musical notes triggers brain cells which are responsible for the development of sharp memory…