Happy New Year!!!
Welcome back to the 2002 edition of Healing Music Enterprises E-Zine. If you're a new subscriber, welcome to our family of music lovers and music makers! We have about 300 subscribers now many of whom have signed up at my workshops or book-signings in various cities. The rest are family and friends from around the country and world. I urge you to forward this newsletter/e-zine to anyone you think would be interested in learning more about the powerful effects of music for healing, improved learning, and just greater enjoyment!
Each month I will have an article devoted to something substantial related to music and healing. Please feel free to send me your suggestions. Topics that I've covered recently include "The Mozart Effect," "Music and Surgery," "Can a Tune Get Stuck in Your Brain," and "How Music Has Helped us Through Terrorism." You can find the archived issues through the website.
Also this year, in the calendar section of my website you'll notice that I'm starting a regular series of classes at Healing Music Enterprises office here in Louisville. I have the facilities to conduct classes there and will do regularly recurring classes on:
- How to create tapes for surgery
- Using music with pregnancy, childbirth and newborns
- Understanding how music affects the Mind-Body-Spirit
- Toning, Chanting, and Drumming for Health
- Using Music with Alzheimer's Patients
These classes will be offered on demand with a minimum of four people necessary to have a class. Each class will be 2-3 hours in length. Class will be held every other Friday morning, Saturday afternoon, and Sunday evenings. Private sessions can also be arranged. Call 502-895-7688 to register.
Alice H. Cash, Ph.D., LCSW
Question of the Month
My wife and I are expecting a baby and we want to play music for the baby. Should we put headphones on my wife's tummy?
Bruce in N.C.
A: Dear Bruce,
Actually, no. Many people apparently were told to do this at one time but we now know that baby can hear quite well without having headphones blasting the music in. Baby's hearing is really quite acute, if it is normal, and to put headphones on mother's tummy could be painfully loud for baby. Speaking, singing, and playing music at a level that is good for you, is probably also good for baby. Mother's voice singing to baby is best of all!
Your Question to the ChantDoc!
My Calendar has been updated with projected new workshops, classes and presentations, including a tour to Hawaii this coming May. Please go to http://www.healingmusicenterprises.com/calendar.html to read about the coming events.
Recently I travelled to Spartanburg, S.C. to do a long-awaited two-day workshop for Spartanburg Regional Hospital System. We had an outstanding crowd on both days and listened to lots of good music as well as learned about Music in the Hospital Setting and Behavioral Health on the first day, and Music with Pediatrics and Geriatrics on the second day. The audience was filled with nurses, social workers, music therapists, chaplains and others! Please go to the web-site section entitled Testimonials to read some of the evaluations. I was quite honored and flattered by the response. I was also pleased by the number of individuals in the audience that were willing to get up and share their own personal stories of music and healing, both personally and professionally. Free books and tapes from the chantdoc were given out and I do hope to return to that area of the country in the near future!
Music and Surgery: Part 2
Since the article I wrote last summer on using music with surgery there has been quite a bit in the professional literature as well as the popular literature about the value of using music with surgery. As a result, I have received dozens of inquiries as well as requests from people locally and out-of-state to help them create their own tapes for upcoming surgeries. The research is clear: listening to carefully selected music, through headphones before, during and after your surgical procedure results in less anxiety medication before the procedure, less anesthesia during the procedure, and less pain medication afterwards! Who wouldn't want to try this? The only prerequisite is a little advance notice so that you can carefully choose the music that you want to listen to and also have time to clear this with your surgeon and your anesthesiologist. So far, the patients that I have worked with have had no problems when they had time to explain their reasons to their surgeons.
What about the surgeon listening to music? No problem. It is actually very desirable for the surgeon to listen to music too. The surgeon needs to keep his energy level up and most people accept that music keeps the energy flowing and the blood pumping. Unfortunately, the music that the surgeon needs is the very opposite of what the patient needs, but there is no reason that they can't both have their own music. The surgeon can listen to her music through speakers or a boom box. The patient definitely needs to have headphones. Not only does that block out the operating room sounds that could be potentially disconcerting, but also, when listening through headphones, the music enters the brain directly through the eighth cranial nerve and can instantly entrain the heart, the breathing and calm the mind and the body.
Many people believe that when the body is "asleep" there's no point in having music playing in your ears and yet we know that for years people have been reporting things that they heard surgeons and nurses say when they were supposedly "asleep." Things that they would just as soon not have heard! Studies have shown that the music one listens to during surgery needs to be purely instrumental so that the brain does not have to "process" lyrics. The music should ideally be the tempo of the healthy resting heartbeat. That is 60-80 beats per minute. The genre of music doesn't matter so much although the slow movements of Baroque suites seem to be particularly well-suited. You want to choose music that has a simple texture and is not too complex, nor too loud. Some people like to listen to classical music; some like to listen to instrumental versions of hymns. My mother, a minister's wife said "Alice, please just don't play 'Nearer My God to Thee.'" Having a feeling of control over some part of the procedure is part of the benefit.
For the pre-surgery tape, you'd want to choose music that is comforting, favorite music of yours. It can be songs, piano music, holiday music, whatever makes you feel good and safe. Probably not too lively as you're trying to calm yourself before surgery, but it definitely can have lyrics.
When you come out of surgery, you can have a family member or friend ready to put in your recovery room tape. This will be something that you have chosen specifically to let you know that, though in a fog of sorts, the surgery is over, and you made it through and are getting ready to recover. Something upbeat is in order though you want to get there gradually. I wouldn't launch into a brass band rendition of "Happy Days are Here Again," but perhaps "Here Comes the Sun" or "Morning Has Broken." The important thing for the recovery room tape is that it be music that you have carefully chosen to let you know as you emerge from the fog of anesthesia that you are indeed back to life, you survived and are now listening to the familiar, comforting sounds of the music that you have specially chosen. Recently, one of my patients chose to listen to Charlotte Church's "Voice of an Angel" both before and after surgery and she said that it was so wonderful both at comforting her, and also blocking out the sounds of the nurses talking and shuffling papers that she couldn't imagine ever having surgery again without her music and her Walkman.
The prospect of surgery is scary. Anything at all that we can do to help ourselves and our patients we need to do. Music is so simple. Let's not forget about it!
IN THIS EDITION
I. Editorial: Happy New Year!
II. Ask the Chantdoc: FAQ's
III. News and Events: Updated Calendar
IV. Article: Music and Surgery: Part 2