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The curative power of music therapy

There are few things in this world as emotionally gratifying or powerful as music.

In an instant, music can alter attitude, flip perspectives or make a memory. Some music, like fine wine, increases in value as it ages; some music most certainly does not – sorry, Safety Dance.

Music is crucial to this world. It takes talent to do well and expertise to do great, and should be treated as such.

The type of music one listens to possesses much more importance than modern society offers. It can make you feel energetic or nostalgic; it can be a coping mechanism or a source of much-needed solace.

Studies have shown that music can not only benefit physical rehabilitation and motivation, but your preferred jams may also possess curative potentials for your brain, heart and overall health as well.

“Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program,” according to the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA).

Essentially, music therapy combines multiple therapeutic practices to address the needs of those diagnosed with cognitive, physical or emotional difficulties, or those unaffected by a single-method treatment.

In a randomized controlled trial from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands measuring the effect of music therapy versus recreational activities on neuropsychiatric symptoms of dementia, research on 60 elderly individuals found that “music therapy is more effective in reducing neuropsychiatric symptoms compared to recreational activities in people with dementia.”

Why isn’t such a beneficial, nonpharmacological treatment method incorporated and applied more often?

Music therapy is still young; it’s being developed, honed and taught to students, but gradually and in few numbers. In Washington, Seattle Pacific University (SPU) is the only school to offer a comprehensive music therapy major, with emphases on physical therapy and exercise science, psychology, and special education.

WSU has yet to incorporate a music therapy program; however, a literature review from the WSU College of Nursing corroborated the benefits of music therapy as nonpharmacological interventions for dementia patients – a subtle hint for WSU to start music therapy programs sooner rather than later.

The American Psychological Association (APA) found that music can treat pain, reduce stress and even “increase the body’s production of the antibody immunoglobulin A and natural killer cells — the cells that attack invading viruses and boost the immune system’s effectiveness.”

In these encouraging instances – the use of specifically tailored ditties to quell behavioral complications in patients suffering from dementia, and increased virus protection via boosts in immune systems – find solace.

Pay attention to music more often. Understand and actively participate in song as passivity simply does not reap the most out of the composition.

Continue to sing like no one can hear you. Crank your tunes in the car, while washing the dishes or walking to school; absorb those happy feelings and healthy vibes, and most importantly, share in the beauty and the raw power of music.

By Luke Hollister, www.dailyevergreen.com, www.msidallas.com