While those of us “in the know” – musicians of all types – have always understood that music has positive health benefits for us, it’s not common knowledge. Dr. Boyle shares research with us that explains how the magical art of music has a scientific effect on our minds and bodies.
“A large scale review covering over 400 scientific papers on the topic of the neurochemistry of music has found that music may be better than prescription medications for some issues and has broad benefits for the body and mind.”
Jonathan Weiss, Medical Daily
First, let’s remember that there is an entire field that uses music to impact well being – Music Therapy. Though it’s been around for over 70 years in the United States, many people are surprised to learn that it exists. Music Therapists use a variety of musical methods with clients to benefit physical and mental health. Beyond this formal therapeutic use of music (which, no surprise to Kindermusik Educators, often pairs music with movement), music can significantly influence health in our everyday lives – particularly boosting our immune system!
Holiday…or Cold and Flu Season?
For many of us in the Northern Hemisphere, the winter months mean colder temperatures and a greater increase in the occurrence of everyday colds. The stronger the immune system, the better we are at fending off the sniffles and sneezes of the season. Couple weather shifts with an increase in stress levels (for a variety of reasons), many of us will be susceptible to annoying coughs and stuffy noses. So, what can music do for us?
According to Dr. Daniel J. Levitin, a neuroscientist (and in interest of full disclosure – a musician), science is able to explain how music shapes actual neurochemical events in the body that may lead to a stronger immune system. It’s fairly common knowledge that stress impacts our ability to fight off germs. Music reduces negative stress in the body, thereby increasing our own body’s natural defenses. This magical art actually lowers the presence of stress hormones.
Cortisal Down…Immunoglobin A Up
Music is intangible – you can’t touch it. It floats through the air and arrives at our ears…and simply changes us. As far as the immune system is concerned, and according to the work of neurocognition expert, Dr. Ronny Enk, music specifically lowers levels of cortisal, the stress hormone, and increases levels of immunoglobin A, an antibody that supports positive immune function. Dr. Enk and his team played joyful, dance music for one group, and random tones for his control group. The folks that listened to music experienced the benefit described above. This is a real, physical response to music. This is measurable…quantifiable.
More Music = More Health
So…what does this mean for us? During the cold and flu season, there are so many opportunities to experience music. Church, concerts, even listening to music around the house – think of these contacts with music as “aural vitamins” for your immune system. Reducing our levels of stress by taking part in music making is even more beneficial. Singing can regulate your heart rate and breathing. Making music with others increases social bonding, which is one of the things we need as human beings.
These benefits are for all of us – young and old alike. In fact, the benefits are incredibly important for those at the extreme ends of life’s journey – infants and our seniors. Sing to your kids! Invite the grandparents to a concert – or visit them and make music together. It will have an impact on the quality of their well being.
Re-posted from Minds On Music / Kindermusik International