Music and Healing Update

Everyone I know loves music. It is more than enjoyment

“According to Arnold Steinhardt, a founding member and first violinist of the Guarneri String Quartet, chamber music audiences nearly always include many health care practitioners, everything from podiatrists to psychiatrists, since there seems to be a mysterious and powerful underground railroad linking medicine and music. Perhaps music is an equally effective agent of healing, and doctors and musicians are part of a larger order serving the needs of mankind. Perhaps they recognize each other as brothers and sisters.” This excerpt is from a longer and interesting article on Music and Health from Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School.

Five years ago

I wrote a post on the healing power of music on health, well-being and aging, and today, I pick up the thread and see where we are in 2024. I suspect my interest was prompted by watching the Japanese film Perfect Days. In that film, directed by Wim Wenders, Hirayama’s joy of music is on display as he drives to and from work in his van. Interestingly, because there is very little dialogue, one of the ways we get to know Hirayama is by his change of facial expression, as he listens to a song.  (on cassette) It struck me that his music was a lifeline – an essential ritual in his simple lifestyle.

Consequently, I started thinking of the role of music in my own life and the lives of others. We know how a particular piece of music can immediately transport us back in time. And it can be both heartwarming and heartbreaking. Music can soothe us and activate us to get up and do something. It allows us to weep tears of joy and grief and can put some of us to sleep at night.

National Institute of Health

I went looking on the National Institute of Health site to see their ten-year study, looking at the healing effects of music on the brain and body. The wonderful interviews with Frances Collins, the director of NIH five years ago, Renee Fleming, opera diva and Vivek Murthy, the Surgeon General  (and is again), were all intact. The video interviews are worth watching if the subject matter interests you – fascinating discussions of the research and its pivotal role in our health. Warning, they tend to be long.

They also talked about how music can reduce pain, give us goosebumps, conjure up a memory and bring on unadulterated bouts of joy. Just a few of the anecdotal effects being  examined using Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). Next up was the possibility of a prescription for music in conjunction with a pill. The latter will not happen until this research is conclusively enshrined in science, and that takes a long time, as I learned in a current PBS interview with  Collins and Fleming.

The bottom line is that all over the world, music plays a pivotal role in our lives. As we learn more about mindbody medicine, it is no surprise that music one day may be on the prescription pad. We already have nature walks being prescribed in some provinces and states.

I am using this post as a reminder to take music seriously. We know how wonderful music is.  Like walking in the forest,  we can consciously incorporate it into our daily lives to help improve many aspects of our well-being.

You know that I am not recommending you give up your pills and listen to Leonard Cohen. I am just reminding you that you may want to do both. :-))

NOTES

1:) I have so many notes that I moved this to the top for your enjoyment so you don’t have to suffer through everything in this list. A piece of music from the movie Perfect Days. It is hard to choose, but here goes – the amazing  Nina Simone  Feeling Good

2:) “There is no other stimulus on earth that simultaneously engages our brains as widely as music does,” says Brian Harris, certified neurologic music therapist at Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. This global activation happens whether you listen to music, play an instrument, or sing — even informally in the car or the shower, he says. It also helps explain how and why music therapy works. Heart Tuning Harvard

 3:) A current discussion Feb 2024 on NPR with Renee Fleming and Dr. Collins. 9 minutes and worth watching.Click here.

4:) Music and pain a research study. National Library of Medicine

 5:) The Healing power of Music NYT

6:)  I am going way out on a limb tonight and inviting you to watch this ten-minute video.  The rousing standing ovation  (collective effervescence) at the end is worth seeing all by itself, and it made me laugh and smile, too. National Symphony Orchestra Artistic Advisor Ben Folds composes a piece live with the NSO  and conductor Edwin Outwater during Sound Health in Concert: Music and the Mind, an initiative spearheaded by Artistic Advisor At Large, Renée Fleming, presented by The Kennedy Center and National Institutes of Health. Introduced by Dr. Charles Limb. A link to a bio on Ben Folds on the Kennedy Centre website. I didn’t know Ben Folds until today.

7:) The free banner photo, thanks to Klub Boks on Pexels, and the wild crocuses are from Alberta, taken several years ago, thanks to Gottfried. I have always loved these early spring flowers. Many, many thanks for taking the time to read this blog. I am sorry I got carried away on all the notes; I trust you to ignore what doesn’t interest you. All my best wishes, Trudy

 

 

10 replies
  1. Carol+Ingells
    Carol+Ingells says:

    Trudy, thank you for this interesting and encouraging blog. I hope to pursue all the resources you sighted. However, my anguish is that as much as I love music, with my hearing loss, I can’t hear “all” of the parts as a whole, even though I have good hearing aids. I don’t know if there’s an answer for that. I miss music so much. Thank you for this important sharing.

    Reply
    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      This is an important question, Carol. Let’s talk about it. I am happy to meet with you on zoom. Not that I can give you an answer, rather so I can learn more, and ask the right questions of people who might have suggestions. We can put our heads together.Please send me an email. Thanks for your comment and telling us about your dilemma. I know there are readers of this blog who also have hearing loss. Warmly, Trudy

      Reply
  2. Wendy Rudnicki
    Wendy Rudnicki says:

    Trudy,
    Thank you for all of this information. I’m looking forward to exploring all the links. Music has been a huge part of my healing journey (healing from severe childhood trauma). It’s helped me grieve and experience joy. And the crocuses are beautiful!
    Blessings,
    Wendy

    Reply
    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      Thank you for your lovely note Wendy. Music is a beautiful and wondrous gift in our lives. So glad that you have found solace there. Warmly, Trudy

      Reply
  3. Janice+Falls
    Janice+Falls says:

    So many resources Trudy! thank you for sharing all this – you are our trustworthy guide. I often think I would like to have more music in my life so this may just prompt me to seek it out more often. xoxoxox

    Reply
    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      Hi Janice. Let’s talk about music on our next walk and look at the blossoms too. As always, my warm appreciation, Trudy

      Reply
  4. Margaret
    Margaret says:

    Trudy, thanks for the link to the Nina Simone song. I think I will remember that scene in “Perfect Days” for the rest of my life. Thanks for this wonderful post and thanks for all the juicy notes too 🙂

    Reply
    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      Hey, Margaret: I am happy to hear that you saw and obviously loved the movie. I did too and I know it isn’t for everyone. But most people can enjoy the song track, which I now play it is my car as I’m driving.:-)) Thanks for your note, Trudy

      Reply
  5. Nancy Jo Bleier
    Nancy Jo Bleier says:

    Trudy.
    Truly a delightful blog. I always enjoy the music of Nina Simone.
    Great video of Ben Folds & NSO. THANKS.

    Reply
    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      Hi Nancy Jo: Thanks for your note and I was delighted to hear that you enjoyed the Ben Folds video. He is amazing, as I am just discovering. Bye for now, Trudy

      Reply

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