Music Therapy

Sue Bergeson Health Guide
  • I was driving home from a long trip the other day. I had my little dog Cassie next to me and music playing, and as I drove, I considered how important music can be for me as I work my wellness.  

    One of the songs I use to strengthen my resolve when things are hard is Wynonna Judd’s “Only Love,” especially the verse where she sings “Peaceful waters, raging sea / It’s all the same to me / I can close my eyes and still be free / When the waves come crashing down and thunder rolls around / I can feel my feet on solid ground.” It reminds me that life—for anyone—is never easy, and that it’s how I process it internally that makes all the difference.
    Add This Infographic to Your Website or Blog With This Code:

    When I want to feel empowered,  I listen to Bon Jovi singing, “This ain't a song for the broken-hearted / No silent prayer for the faith-departed / I ain't gonna be just a face in the crowd / You're gonna hear my voice / When I shout it out loud / It’s my life / It’s now or never….”

    When I am sad, I turn to Loreena McKennitt’s “Dante’s Prayer” and sob along with the despair I hear in Dante’s words sung so hauntingly by McKennitt: “Cast your eyes on the ocean / Cast your soul to the sea / When the dark night seems endless / Please remember me.”

    According to research conducted by Penn State, no matter what music you listen to it can have a positive effect (Stratton, V.N. Psychology and Education: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 2003; vol 40: pp 1-11. News Release, Penn State University). Stratton states, “Not only did our sample…report more positive emotions after listening to music, but their already positive emotions were intensified by listening to music."

    USA Today quoted University of Toronto psychologist Gabriela Husain’s studies in this article: “When people hear a sad Albinoni dirge…it depresses the people and makes them more sluggish; a more "up" Mozart sonata has opposite effects….Key and tempo matter, even with a cheerful Mozart piece. A fast tempo makes listeners feel more energetic, and they score higher on spatial tests; slower tempo has the reverse effect. Music in a major key lifts mood, improving test performance; a minor key puts listeners in a worse mood and lowers their scores.”

    We are all sometimes painfully aware of how music is used in elevators, in stores, in theme parks, and in movies to set and maintain certain moods. I flash back to “It’s a Small World” (why is that ride always empty when I visit Disney World?) and the grinding holiday carols that urge me on my way to spending too much money.

    According to the American Music Therapy Association,  “Music therapy allows persons with mental health needs to: explore personal feelings, make positive changes in mood and emotional states, have a sense of control over life through successful experiences, practice problem solving, and resolve conflicts leading to stronger family and peer relationships.”

    So, how have you used music on your journey? Which songs help you?  

Published On: March 07, 2007