Music Therapy Term Paper
Do you wonder why you can easily sing a commercial you have not heard for a decade? Similarly, do you find it hard to remember facts and concepts you spent hours memorizing the moment you complete a test? Is it not amazing that one can recognize the songs after just hearing a single refrain and rattle a theme from childhood at a moment’s notice. Even better, do you wonder how some songs can take your thoughts to another time of life? Music does not only stay with us for long after we have stopped thinking about it, but also has unique abilities to evoke memories.
Since many years, scientists have proven that music can activate many brain structures responsible for emotional and sensorimotor processing. Music engages different parts of the brain responsible for memory-related processes, emotional processing, multisensory integration, and social cognition. The engagement of these processes through music can have beneficial effects on the physiological and psychological health of individuals. The use of music with respect to healing has a long history.
Nevertheless, music therapy as a professional activity was developed in the United States in the early 1950s (Weiss 171-172). This therapy was geared towards helping war veterans suffering from emotional problems. Since then, the demand for music therapy has continued to grow. Through my deposition today, I intend to leave the audience more informed regarding the nature of music therapy and how it can help them and others in their lives. Music therapy is the application of music from the point of view of its psychological effects upon patients or pathologically fit but indisposed individuals in order to restore their health and wellness.
One of the prerequisites for oral communication is hearing, a sensory modality that allows a man to perceive sounds. Docksai defines sounds as vibrations in a medium transmitted to the organ which receives the vibrations and transforms them into bioelectrical potential for processing in the auditory system (14). In the variety of approaching sounds heard all the time, individuals can differentiate the acoustic complexities of sounds, that is, their intensity, frequency, and phase. Thus, in order to process the sonic information through hearing, the sounds must be detected and interpreted, that is, the acoustic stimuli must be received by the peripheral system and encoded through bioelectrical processes. The auditory modality is divided into submodalities which include the discrimination of tone and sound intensity, tonal discrimination, identification and spatial localization of sounds, speech comprehension and interpretation of complex sounds, such as those of music (Pritchard 139).
From this perspective, music is the art of combining sounds simultaneously and successively, with order, balance, and proportion through time. The study of musical perception allows a thorough analysis of sound and profoundly influences the musician’s ability, since it acts as a qualitative process of investigation of several sub-areas, such as rhythm and harmony. A proper understanding of sound depends on the integrity of the auditory system, and its improvement requires the right kind of environment. Research indicates that the musical environment in which learners grow and develop plays a fundamental role in sharpening their potential to learn the elements of music (Pennamon 21-22). Therefore, the accurate perception of sound leads to an adequate development of auditory abilities, which also facilitates the process of language acquisition and development, and other cognitive mechanisms.
Studies have found that auditory training performed for one type of sound stimulus can be generalized to other stimuli or listening situations not used in training situations (Stuckey 257). Along this line, music practice stimulates the development of melodic and harmonic auditory perception through the perceptive training of intervals and rhythm, among other acoustic parameters (Pennamon 21-22). Considering that these perceptual-auditory abilities act as facilitators for acquisition and phonological development, they help in the improvement of auditory processing skills. In addition, individuals with musical practice perform better in dramatic tasks, reading, vocabulary, syntax, and motor skills (Pennamon 21-22).
Speech therapy deals with auditory and language development, including metalinguistic aspects. Therefore, music can become an ally in the treatment and prevention of some speech-language disorders.
Given the relevance of the topic, the analysis of the national and international knowledge already produced is primordial, with the objective of offering subsidies for reflections and actions in the area of speech and hearing pathology (Stuckey 256). Various experiments have concluded that the emotional reaction of the listener is a vital factor in music therapy. Baker states that rhythm plays a crucial role in this emotional reaction (337). Duffey and Shane postulate that rhythmic activity contributes to the total development of children, including their social as well as their physical development (445-446). Rhythmic impressions are changed to expressions and are thus associated with the development and activation of the personality.
Listening to Music
I conducted a survey about music listening. From my study, 93 percent of the participants agreed they like music. In fact, 57 percent of them were listening to music while taking this survey. About 71 percent of the participants were aware of the existence of music therapy. However, only 14 percent claimed to have used music therapy. Approximately 79 percent agreed that music has healing properties, while 93 percent concurred that they use music to reduce stress.
The effect of music upon a person’s mood is closely linked with different chemical reactions taking place in the brain. For instance, listening to music triggers the production of endorphins, which act as natural pain relief (Ferrer 483). Music is also associated with the production of dopamine that leads to feeling linked with optimism and energy (Ferrer 483). The production of these chemicals is triggered by both listening to music and active participation in musical experience, such as singing or dancing. The impact of music becomes more intense in a group, because shared positive experiences trigger the release of oxytocin, a hormone that plays a critical role in building trust (Washington and Devin 131). From this perspective, bonding around music helps in developing emotional responses.
The advancement in brain scan technology shows how music increases brain activity by creating pathways across both hemispheres (Ferrer 487). In effect, music becomes beneficial in neurorehabilitation. Rhythm helps in the rehabilitation of speech among patients who have undergone stroke or brain injuries. Ferrer explains the strong connection between memories and music (487). Often, specific songs have the ability to trigger emotions. Music therapists use this feature with patients with memory problems to access valuable information from their memories. Long after people suffering from dementia have lost memories and verbal abilities, identification of songs remains stronger, even with lyrics. Therefore, music therapy has a potential to create a window of communication with dementia patients which is accessible even to their close ones in the family.
Music therapy is also popular in hospitals for easing pain and managing anxiety, especially during surgical procedures. The application of music therapy has found many takers in education and developmental contexts, especially ones with disabilities. Today, music therapists work in hospitals, nursing homes, and communities. Others provide tailor-made programs that address specific needs, since music can enhance cognition and sensory stimulation, and thus motor skills and mobility. Music also provides an outlet for emotional expression. This increased awareness of the environment and other people around improves self-confidence, functioning, and well-being. Those who practice and perform music would agree that it offers immense relief to their physiological discomfort and spiritual needs, whether they are professionals or simply enthusiastic about it. This shows how wide-ranging the benefits and motivations for music therapy are in today’s times.
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