September 2006

Healing Music Ezine

  1. Can Music Keep You Young?
  2. What is Rhythmic Entrainment?

  3. Music on the Brain



Can Music Keep You Young?

You may have read about the studies that were done in senior residences where music from the 40's and 50's was played during the day, in addition to the decor being changed to 40's and 50's era furniture and kitchen looks?

This amazing study showed that the residents began to actu and think younger and actually began experiencing better health! I do believe that when you listen to the music of your courting years, things change inside of you...chemically and neurohormonally! You actually do feel better and even if part of it is just distraction, so what!!

I say if it helps, and doesn't hurt, and is doesn't cost you, go for it!! What do YOU think?

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What is Rhythmic Entrainment?

If you're really interested in knowing about how music affects the mind and the body, then you must understand the principle of rhythmic entrainment.

This is simply a documented phenomenon discovered several hundred years ago by physicists. Basically it says that when two bodies in motion are in close proximity, they will soon synchronize with each other. Put it in plain English you say? OK. Imagine that the stereo suddenly starts playing a march by John Philip Sousa. Would you sit motionless while this stirring music plays? Absolutely not! Your toe would tap, your head would nod, you might even feel compelled to get up and march around the room! It's that powerful. I usually explain it to people as the process of the human body's heart rate and breathing synchronizing to the pulse of strong rhythmic music.

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Music on the Brain

Dr. Mark TramoAt the Harvard Medical School, Dr. Mark Tramo is doing research on how music affects the brain. His research also suggests that even babies have specific musical likes and dislikes. The dark stripe on the model brain he holds marks an area particularly sensitive to rhythm, melody, and harmony. The good doctor says that "They begin to respond to music while still in the womb. At the age of 4 months, dissonant notes at the end of a melody will cause them to squirm and turn away. If they like a tune, they may coo. "

"Music is in our genes," says Mark Jude Tramo, a musician, prolific songwriter, and neuroscientist at the Harvard Medical School. "Many researchers like myself are trying to understand melody, harmony, rhythm, and the feelings they produce, at the level of individual brain cells. At this level, there may be a universal set of rules that governs how a limited number of sounds can be combined in an infinite number of ways."

"All humans come into the world with an innate capability for music," agrees Kay Shelemay, professor of music at Harvard. "At a very early age, this capability is shaped by the music system of the culture in which a child is raised. That culture affects the construction of instruments, the way people sound when they sing, and even the way they hear sound. By combining research on what goes on in the brain with a cultural understanding of music, I expect we'll learn a lot more than we would by either approach alone."

Imagine how wonderful it would be if music could provide one powerful path to peace!

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Alice H. Cash, Ph.D., LCSW

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