MUSIC THERAPY: WHAT HEALING SOUNDS LIKE
By Amy Cassaniti
Depression. Anxiety. Sadness. Fear. Negative mental health consequences abound. The world has just lived through a once in a lifetime pandemic. Of course people are struggling to cope with vast changes. Though the pandemic may have worsened the current mental health crisis, it did not create it. Medication, exercise, talk therapy are all valuable treatments. Many people have also benefitted by utilizing Music and/or Sound Therapy. But you have to be a trained musician to utilize these therapies, right? No. In fact, Music and Sound Therapy work
for anyone regardless of musical training or experience.
Music Therapy involves working with a certified, licensed Music Therapist (to find a therapist in your area, start with the American Music Therapy Association
https://www.musictherapy.org/about/find/). The Therapist uses a variety of activitie to help a client lift his mood, reduce his anxiety, and improve his mental health. Some effective techniques are making music, writing songs, singing, dancing, listening to specifically chosen music, and discussing music. Again, no previous musical training is required. In fact, patients with no formal musical training often experience faster results as they are more flexible and less likely to be distracted by their knowledge of formal music theory. Research has shown that music activates the regions of the brain that influence memory (hence the benefit for patients with dementia), emotions, movement, and sensory relays in the central nervous system. Music Therapy has been shown to lower heart rates and blood pressure, relax muscle tension, and relieve stress by releasing endorphins.
Ancient Sound Therapy is based on Tibetan cultural practices going back 6,000 years. In Sound Therapy particular instruments and tools are used to create specific frequencies. These frequencies have been shown to soothe the central nervous system. With enough exposure, clients have reduced their overall sensation of stress and pain. A further type of Sound Therapy uses binaural beats. Using two different tones, one in each ear that are slightly different in frequency, the brain “chooses” to hear a beat which is the difference of the frequencies. This “middle” tone is called a binaural beat. Binaural beats in the alpha frequencies (8 to 13 Hz) encourage relaxation, promote positivity, and decrease anxiety. Binaural beats in the lower beta frequencies (14 to 30 Hz) increase concentration and alertness,
problem solving, and improve memory. The Yellow Brick Cinema YouTube channel
(https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwobzUc3z-0PrFpoRxNszXQ) has offerings of Sound Therapy for you to sample. Whether working with a conventional Music Therapist or experimenting with Sound Therapy, the research is convincing. Music heals. And really, it’s just so FUN!