Healing Music comes in many forms

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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