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The Influence of Music in the Medical Field

The Influence of Music in the Medical Field -melissa n., M.A., CCC-SLP

Isaac Asimov said that “The only constant is change…” I beg to differ. I believe that yes, change is constant, however, so is music. So far as I can tell, music has been a constant throughout the history of mankind. From tribal war chants, to slavery songs, Irish drinking songs, Catholic hymns, 60’s hippie love music, and 90’s heavy metal, music has been a tie that can bind a clique, a couple, a generation together. Music touches the heart, awakens the soul. It speaks to us. As a communication specialist, music is such an easy therapy topic and means to motivate. It facilitates rhythm of speech and encourages creativity. Music is a topic that can connect a 91 year old woman with a 23 year old Army veteran… play “Star Spangled Banner” during a group therapy session close to Veteran’s Day at a facility in north-central Indiana and see what happens. The raw, human emotion that music can draw out is capable of rendering me speechless. (Which is a difficult thing to do, as I am paid to communicate. 🙂 Music can be utilized as a tool for melodic intonation therapy (a tool for aphasia therapy), stuttering reduction therapy, topics for individual or group therapy, or (as I have recently discovered) accent reduction therapy. If one sings Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places,” it is a given that he/she will sing with a heavy southern drawl. Sing a Beatles song, truly feeling the lyrics, and you will end up singing with a British accent. Music has united together union workers, co-workers, blue-collar workers, and prison-inmates. It has brought grown men to tears and women to strength and unity regarding women’s rights. It is a method of creating “mood” that is unequivalent to any other.

An AMAZING article regarding surgeons playing music while operating is found at http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/sep/26/music-for-surgery…. Given the effect that music has had in my life, I’m am both surprised, and yet not at all surprised at the findings of the “experiment”. I guess I’m just excited that someone else in the medical field has stepped back and realized the importance of music in the human existence. My best friend, Travis Tipton, is a D.J. in the middle of rural Ohio. He has claimed that one’s life can be summarized via “phono-journaling.” https://www.facebook.com/notes/travis-tipton/degrangerized-phono-journaling/2695054932770 Webster-Miriam defines “phono” as “phono- or phon- pref. Sound; voice; speech.” and of journalism is of course defined as “A personal record of occurrences, experiences, and reflections kept on a regular basis; a diary.” The concept of “phono-journaling” has never before been defined, but has for centuries been done. Imagine your life replayed with a soundtrack… which songs would be chosen, and in what order? Ninety-nine percent of humans could tell you the rhythm of life occurring at each moment, whether a song had been developed based around the experience or not. Music is a fundamental basis upon which we center our personalities, relations, and experiences in life. As communication specialists, or medical personnel in general, for that matter, we need to to consider it a link to not only knowing what our patients’ bodies and chemical/neurological statuses are, but also their emotional and psychological states as well. As Aldous Huxley states. “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_music.html
http://www.valleymusictherapy.com
htttp://www.musictherapy.org
http://www.altmd.com/articles/music-therapy-intervention-and-techniques
http://www.speechpathology.com/articles/music-therapy-and-emergence-spoken-1199