Usually, when one considers what they can do to fight off a cold, relieve pain, or alleviate mental illness, the first things that comes to mind may be to take over-the-counter drugs or prescribed medications. However, the cure to these and many other infirmities may be found within your own ipod. Music, in its many forms, can and should be used as a healing instrument. While it may not completely alleviate the need for drugs, it's possible that music therapy could accompany medical drug use in order to lessen the amount of potentially harmful medications often consumed by patients.
In order to understand how music can affect the body and mind, one needs to understand the composition of sound itself. Don Campbell describes it by saying “sound is energy that can be organized into shapes, patterns, figures, and mathematical proportions, as well as into music, speech, and utterances of agony and bliss.” He goes on to say that “sound travels in waves through the air and... is measured in hertz, [which is] the number of cycles per second at which the wave vibrates” (1).
Although we cannot see it, we can often feel the energy of sound. It affects us physically and mentally in both large and small ways, whether causing our bodies to move to the beat, or bringing about hearing itself by causing the bones in our ears to resonate at the same vibrations of the sounds being made.
The activity of singing is therapeutic in and of itself. More specifically, singing in a group can positively affect one's well-being and increase sociability. To quote Feder, “In almost any gathering of people in which it is important to arouse a sense of community, of congeniality, or of spirit, we are likely to find music” (5). The action of singing paces our breathing and allows us to organize our thoughts and feeling into rhythm, rhyme, and pitch. It gives us the chance to feel a sense of order in a life that is so often filled with chaos. Furthermore, singing can often help someone to come in contact with certain emotions that they have either been suppressing, or simply could no longer feel. For
example, a song with slow tempo and lyrics about remembering a lost loved one can emit feelings of deep sorrow or regret, which can be reflected and felt by the one singing, or even listening to, the music. On the other hand, a more joyous and fast-paced song can allow one to feel more energized and up-beat.
Aside from emotions, music can also have an impact on mental illnesses like ADHD, depression, and dementia. To combat depression, Cadena states that “music therapy alleviates pain and promotes calmness by slowing the heart rate and other bodily functions” (2). It provides the patient with a means of escape from the stressful and painful ordeals of life, and can even encourage them...