Healing Music Enterprises Blog

Tune Your Life with Music

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Healing Music with Depression and Anxiety

October 15th, 2015 · Healing Music, Music and Anxiety, Music and Emotion

Healing music is so easy to incorporate into your day, especially if you suffer from anxiety and depression!  Do you give yourself the recommended daily allowance of the music you love??  Most people listen to music on their car radios, their iPods, and their iPhones, but is it the music you really love the most?  Scientists, musicologists, music therapists, and performing musicians know that music is one of the easiest and most powerful ways to raise energy levels and increase all of those feel-good hormones that can change our moods in minutes!!  It is also very valuable with healing with depression and anxiety

Intention is everything!!  If you know the type of music that lifts your spirits and honestly makes you feel hopeful when you otherwise feel hopeless and glum, why not consciously choose to have that specific music at your fingertips 24/7?  That’s the beauty of our iPhones and iPods.  We can create 100’s of playlists of our favorite songs, pieces, show tunes, or Chopin etudes!!

Music has absolutely no negative side effects!  Although I feel that I may have had mild addictions to certain pieces of music, they usually resolve themselves after a couple of weeks.  There are certain songs/pieces that, if they come on the radio as I pull into my driveway, I simply cannot turn the car off until the entire piece is over!  Have you experienced that?  Music is as powerful as any drug, without the negative side-effects.  Before taking drugs for anxiety or depression, trying creating a new playlist of your favorite upbeat, energizing music.  There’s nothing wrong with taking anti-anxiety or depression medications, but the less, the better!

Here is one of my favorite upbeat songs:

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Healing Music comes in many forms

September 30th, 2015 · Healing Music, Music Healing, Music in the Hospital, Music Medicine, Surgery with Music

Alice and Heidi

Dr. Cash and colleague conduct a drumming and chanting workshop at the University of Louisville Alumni Center

Have you experienced the healing power of music?  Since the beginning of time, humans have been powerfully drawn to rhythm, to harmony and to melody.  The original “music” consisted of the sounds of nature:  waves lapping the shore, the wind through the pines and palms, the babbling brook and the gentle rain.

Today, every country has their own unique styles of music and some of it is likely to be healing for those people who grew up hearing it.  In order for music to be truly healing for someone, it must be soothing and comforting, and that usually means that it has some familiarity to it.

Music from far-away places on the globe can sometimes be very foreign to our ears.  For example, much much in India is written for instruments and voices that can produce quarter tones.  Our ears are not used to that sound and to me, it sounds kind of like “whining.”  For those that grew up with that tuning system, however, it is very beautiful and very emotional.

When I am putting together playlists for my Surgical Serenity Solutions, I try to choose music that is soothing and calming, but that also represents other cultures around the world, and other styles of music.  Our original playlist is classical piano music, but the pieces that I chose are mostly unfamiliar, because when one is going into surgery, one does not want to hear something that might possibly be connected to an unpleasant memory.

When I am asked to meet with a patient who is in pain or suffering emotionally, I need to know in advance, if possible, what kind of music they are drawn to and what kind of music they have enjoyed throughout their lives.  The music that I prefer is irrelevant, unless they just happen to like the same kinds of music that I do.  Many people tell me “No rap music, ” or “No country music,” or “No opera!”  I always think it’s interesting when people tell me first, which music they do NOT want to hear!  I think that’s because music is so powerful and so personal, we just don’t want to take a chance at having our ears bombarded with something we know we don’t like!!

What kind of music would YOU want to hear played in your hospital room, if you were feeling ill, in pain or emotionally distraught?  I”m hoping to make some new CDs soon and would love to make something that YOU like!

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NPR story on Music with Surgery documents the benefits!

August 13th, 2015 · Dangers of anesthesia, joint replacement surgery, Music and Dental Surgery, Music and Eye Surgery, Music and Surgery, out-patient surgery with music, Surgery with Music

Surgery with music is a topic that I’ve spent that last 25 years writing and speaking about.  It is such an easy yet powerful intervention for the patient who is filled with anxiety and dread

Now this wonderful meta-analysis has been published in the “Lancet,” a prestigious and highly respected British medical journal.  I would love for people to share this study on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or any other social media that you might use!  Thanks so much.  Our goal is to have the Surgical Serenity Solution in every operating room in the US by 2018, and every OR in the world by 2020!!  Help us achieve that goal!!  Thanks so much!

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Children and Pain: Study looks at Power of Music

July 30th, 2015 · Anesthesia Waking up, Music and Cancer, Music and Pain

Have you ever had a child in the hospital?  That alone is a painful and frightening experience for parent and child, but imagine if your child has to have surgery, and after surgery, is in pain.  As a mother of three and grandmother of four, I can’t imagine anything more frustrating for a parent.  No one wants to see their child in pain; but no one wants to see their child on heavy pain medicine either.

Researchers, who had a personal motive, (because of a previous positive experience with a hospitalized loved one) decided to do a specific study with hospitalized children.   They divided the children into three groups and allowed one group to choose their favorites from Miley Cyrus, etc.  Another group got to choose a favorite story being read through headphones.  The third group listened to silence through comfy, noise-cancelling headphones.

What do you think they found?  Let’s let NPR tell the story!!

 

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Our singing President!

June 29th, 2015 · Music Healing

Did you ever think you’d hear the President of the United States sing?  This is the 8th or 9th President in office since I was born in 1948, and I can’t think of a single President that I have heard burst into song, and do a great job of it!!

Supposedly, Harry Truman was a pretty good piano player and Bill Clinton played the saxophone, but who knew that Obama could sing like this?  It did seem to be like a healing balm that day at the funeral in Charleston, where Obama unexpectedly began singing, after delivering a beautiful eulogy.  Watch it for yourself and see what you think!

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Can music be a painkiller??

June 25th, 2015 · Music Healing, Music in the Hospital

Nearly every day, someone contacts me who is about to go to the hospital for a procedure of some kind. Most of these people are preparing to have surgery and have questions about how they can use music for the procedure.  Patients wonder, can music be a painkiller?  Pain is one of the many issues they are worried about, in addition to side-effects of anesthesia, side-effects of the surgical incision, and of course, fear that the surgery will not be successful.  As a therapist and a Music Medicine practitioner, I do everything I can to reassure patients with calm and affirming information and education about the process.  Music, however, is one of the easiest and safest ways to calm a patient, before, during and after surgery.

This week, NPR presented some new research on the use of music as a painkiller in the hospital.  Of course I was thrilled to see this, but I’ve taken it a step further!  Instead of putting music into the patient intravenously (which of course is impossible, but a makes for a cute picture!), most people give the patient an iPod or other wired MP3 device.  What we have done is to actually put the music INSIDE the headphones which allows the patient to listen with no cord attached to headphones, risking entanglement with IV, blood pressure cuff, or nurse call apparatus and bed movement control button!

As a clinical musicologist, I have spent the past 25 years of my career studying the anxiety and fear people experience prior to and after surgery.  Every day, people postpone or even cancel their much-needed surgery because they are so convinced that they won’t survive the procedure or the anesthesia. Now patients can buy our very successful, pre-loaded headphones and begin to relax to this music for weeks in advance if they want to!  See www.SurgicalSerenitySolutions.com

If I knew how to reach the people at #NPR, I would love to enlighten them!

In the meantime, suffice it to say, that if you’re experiencing pain from any part of your body, reach for some of your favorite soothing music!  You’ll be glad you did!!

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Preemies and the Power of Music

May 26th, 2015 · Lullabies, Music Healing, Music in the Hospital, Music with Newborns and Preemies

Gigi and Beau.9.14

Who doesn’t love a tiny, newborn baby?  The innocense, the sweetness, the delicious smell and sounds?  But if your baby was born prematurely, and survived, chances are that there will be weeks and months and continued struggle, just to survive.   Sometimes, parents know that there is a good chance that their baby or babies will be born prematurely.  In the case of multiple births, the chance is almost 100%.  In other pregnancies, the doctor may have discovered a congenital birth defect of some kind, heart issues, brain, or other organs can be compromised in some way.

In this case, music therapists can do some powerful interventions.  I’ll never forget a story that Deforia Lane, Ph.D., MT-BC,  told about a call she received one morning to do a music therapy session with an unborn baby.  The mother had been in a car accident the night before and by all methods of diagnostics, appeared to be brain dead.  The baby, however still had a strong heartbeat and was moving around!  The hospital realized that if the baby was to survive until she was big enough and strong enough to be born, then the mother would have to be kept alive.  And so she was connected to all the machines that would keep her alive until the baby was ready to be delivered.  And that’s when Deforia was called in.   She related that she was overwhelmed with the challenge when she first got this assignment, but as usual, she accepted the challenge and rose to the occasion.  She prayed for guidance before she entered the room, and stood silently looking at the woman whose eyes were closed and whose breath came only as a result of the machines to which she was connected.

As she slowly approached the woman, she knew what she would do.  When she was beside the bed, she slowly put her hands on the woman’s abdomen and felt the baby inside.  Softly and quietly, she began to sing “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.”  As she sang she felt the baby begin to move gently, first one way, then the other.  She continued singing and knew instinctively that this was making a positive difference on this precious gift from God.  She did this daily, adding “Jesus Loves Me,” and many other nuturing spiritual songs!

One day a few weeks later, she got the call that a healthy baby had been delivered and that the music therapy she had given this baby had made a priceless contribution to the survival of the baby.  What more can we ask?  Thank God for the gift of music and for trained music therapists and loving parents who sing to their babies.

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Physicians and Musicians: What’s the connection?

April 29th, 2015 · Healing Music, Music in Antiquity, Physicians and Musicians

Longwood SymphonyIn ancient Rome and Athens, many of the physicians were not only physicians, they were also musicians!  They knew the healing powers of music, sound, rhythm, and harmony and they often were quite skilled musicians themselves. Yes, physicians and musicians seem to have a lot in common!   You’ve all heard of the Greek God, Apollo?  He was the God of both music and medicine and was recognized for that for centuries.  In ancient times, music was often prescribed and administered by the physician whether it was playing a lyre, a flute, a panpipe, or perhaps singing to the patient in a specific mode.

Today, we are coming full circle and physicians are again recognizing the power of music as medicine and as a therapy.  The orchestra above is the famous Longwood Symphony, located in Boston, MA.  It is comprised entirely of physicians and other medical personnel.   Each concert focuses on a specific disease or disability, such as leukemia, diabetes, breast cancert and so forth.  The fields of nursing, music therapy, music medicine, as well as many specialties in medicine, have now conducted and published dozens of scientific studies, documenting the many and varied benefits of music in the field of medicine.

In addition, physicians are either already skilled in playing instruments, or are learning to play instruments for their own relaxation or self-nurturing.  There are orchestras springing up around the country that are comprised entirely of physicians.  I’m most familiar with one in Boston is the Longwood Symphony.  This wonderful ensemble performs several times a year and there is always a charitable cause that benefits from their concerts!  What a great idea!

Another interesting story comes from New York:

“When New York City physician, teacher, writer and editor Danielle Ofri took up the cello in 2006, it was to encourage her daughter to practice the violin: The girl’s teacher had told her that seeing a parent practice was the best way to make a child want to do the same.

Ofri, an associate professor of medicine at New York University, thought that practising would be a chore, she observed in a 2009 article in The Lancet — a responsibility, in the way that looking after patients, teaching, writing and editing are chores for her. (Her word.) But it turned out to be something she truly wanted to do.

She looked forward, “almost to the exclusion of all else,” each evening to practising the Bach suite she was working on — no matter how tired she was.

The fatigue dissipates for Montreal family physician Johanne Thibaudeau, too, when she picks up her violin: playing is a form of meditation for her. “When I start to practise, I can be very tired — and, after half an hour, I’m not tired anymore,” she said. “I can go for an hour and a half.

And with music in my life, I have the feeling of being a better person — perhaps because I have done something to nourish a part of myself. I am very relaxed. — Johanne Thibaudeau

Thibaudeau has observed that many doctors are serious amateur musicians and she wonders: Is it that music speaks to them? Or are they simply highly motivated people who have an easy time learning new material?”

I’ve known for years that physicians are often talented musicians, and they are definitely wonderful supporters of the arts both by their presence and their financial support.  Let’s hope that this partnership and connection lasts as long as civilization lasts!

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