Music therapy is the controlled use of music in treatment, rehabilitation, and a means of optimizing creativeness and pedagogical work. Behavioral therapists widely adopt music to treat depressive conditions. Since the mechanism of the effect is not always clear, music therapy sometimes seems like a kind of miracle, giving a melody a magical meaning. A significant part of scientists considers music therapy an auxiliary means of psychotherapy to prepare patients with sophisticated therapeutic methods. It is increasingly asserted in the status of a universal educational system that optimizes the process of development of a person in social life. The methods of music therapy have gained wide popularity. Many specialists have been studying how to use music to treat patients with specific psychological or somatic problems.
Forms of Music Therapy
Music affects the human body in the physical realm. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was experimentally proved that musical sounds make every cell of the human body vibrate (Gilroy and Lee 163). Electromagnetic waves alter blood pressure, heart rate, rhythm, and depth of breath (Gilroy and Lee 163). Music has proven to be effective in sports medicine, actively influencing the improvement of sports performance. It is no accident that in modern medical science, music therapy is gaining increasingly more popularity along with herbal medicine and art therapy.
The following forms of music therapy are distinguished: receptive, active, and integrative. Receptive or so-called passive music therapy means that the patient does not actively participate in the music therapy session, taking the position of a listener (Gilroy and Lee 109). He or she is offered to listen to various musical compositions or sounds that correspond to the state of his or her mental health and treatment stage. Passive listening aims at relaxing the nervous system. Active methods of music therapy are based on the work with musical material: instruments playing and singing. Being engaged in singing, according to a unique program, the patient experiences two healing effects at once. On the one hand, singing strengthens the respiratory and cardiac systems, and on the other, it positively affects the nervous system (Gilroy and Lee 110). Integrative music therapy takes advantage of other forms of art, organically integrating with them. For example, there are different approaches such as drawing to a tune, music-moving games, plastic dramatization to music, creating poems to a musical theme, and other creative forms (Gilroy and Lee 115). Artistic therapeutic methods are selected, as a rule, individually.
Effectiveness of Passive Music Therapy
There are several main therapeutic effects of music therapy. The first benefit is emotional activation during verbal psychotherapy. Furthermore, it stimulates the development of interpersonal skills, for example, communicative functions and abilities (Sundar 248). Listening to music together creates an atmosphere of mutual trust between the doctor and the patient (Sundar 248). Finally, music affects psycho-vegetative processes and increases the aesthetic needs of a person.
The mechanisms of the therapeutic effect of music therapy are emotional discharge, regulation of the emotional state, and reducing frustration with life problems. It increases social activity, acquiring new means of emotional expression and facilitating the building of new social relationships. Sudan claims that correctly selected melodies, works, and improvisations are convenient to work with in the subconscious mind (250). Music structures the processes of reflecting and recalling a memory. Sounds interact with associative structures, bringing them to the surface into the current state of mind. Even unpleasant dissonances can affect remembrance and consciousness, and, consequently, have a beneficial effect on the general mental condition.
With regard to the mental impact on a person, different musical genres have various outcomes. Gregorian chants use rhythms of natural breathing, which allows patients to achieve a sense of spatial relaxation (Gilroy and Lee 235). These melodies are well-suited for quiet exercises and meditation, reducing the level of stress. Slow Baroque music, for instance, compositions of Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, gives a sense of stability, order, security, and creates a spiritually productive ambiance that is suitable for the work process (Gilroy and Lee 235). Classical music, like that of Haydn and Mozart, is distinguished by clarity, elegance, and transparency. It can enhance concentration, improve memory, and spatial perception (Gilroy and Lee 235). The music of romanticism of composers such as Schubert, Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, and Liszt emphasizes expressiveness and sensuality, and often awakens individualism. It is better to use it to activate feelings and emotions that usually tend to diminish or are hidden.
Concerning rock songs and pop music, the latter provoke rhythmic movements and create a feeling of well-being. Rock music performed by artists can awaken deep senses, stimulate active changes, and relieve nervous tension. It might ease the pain and reduce the unpleasant effect of loud and sharp sounds in case they are in the environment (Landis-Shack et al. 334). Meanwhile, it is necessary to maintain a nuanced approach to treating patients with this genre since rock music can create nervous tension, causing a dissonance of emotions. Sometimes it can be the reason for a stressful state or adverse mental conditions.
Moreover, these days, musical therapy is used not only in behavioral treatment but also in domains that can be considered far from music, for example, in surgery or dentistry. The practice of medicine has shown that some musical works have an anesthetic effect; consequently, it can reduce the fear of pain. An important role in postoperative rehabilitation is played by the patient’s mental state before, during, and after surgery. A review of medical studies shows that preoperative anxiety is associated with more pain, even with equal doses of analgesics (Martin-Saavedra et al. 87). For reducing stress and, as a result, improving the patient’s physical well-being after an operation, various methods are used: among them, there is music therapy. However, one neuropsychologist, according to Martin-Saavedra et al., admitted that music should accompany medical treatment, but not replace it (88). Not every disease can be cured with jazz or hip-hop. For instance, in the case of a broken leg, it is difficult, but regarding bacterial infection, music can stimulate the immune system. Musical programs for the immunostimulating effects have already been developed in some medical organizations.
Singing has a particularly beneficial effect on a person’s health. It is a unique respiratory gymnastics that helps to establish regular breathing. The correct breathing setting leads to an apparent increase in all the reserve capabilities of the human body. Chanting acts as a breathing training massage of the larynx, during which breathing muscles and diaphragmatic breathing are trained, bronchial drainage is improved, and lung capacity is increased (Irons et al. 80) When a person sings, vibration occurs in his or her internal organs, especially in the academic manner of singing (Irons et al. 75). Studies have confirmed that singing not only develops the lungs and pectoral muscles but also strengthens the cardiac muscle (Irons et al. 80). Singing helps to cure bronchial asthma, other broncho-pulmonary diseases, and sinusitis (Irons et al. 80). As a result, it has a beneficial effect on the kidneys, endocrine glands, and thyroid gland. All these facts put singing next to physical education.
The purposeful therapeutic use of music called music therapy or music treatment has stood out in an independent direction, which has occupied its niche at the intersection of science and art. Since 1969 in Sweden, there has been a music therapeutic society (Gilroy and Lee 34). It became known to the whole world that the sounds of bells containing resonant ultrasonic radiation kill typhoid bacilli, pathogens of jaundice, and influenza viruses in seconds (Gilroy and Lee, 34). Since 1998, the American Association of Music Therapy has existed in the United States (Gilroy and Lee 34). Its goal is to support the therapeutic use of music in hospitals, educational centers, and communication facilities, training and certification of music therapists, and conferences. Through its journal Music Therapy and other publications, information is exchanged among the members of the association about new research, clinical trials of methods, and equipment for music therapy (Gilroy and Lee 35). Two 2700 musicians are certified as music therapists and music therapy is carried out according to individual repertoire plans.
One can argue in favor of using music therapy, including vocal exercises, in the treatment of various diseases. In general, people should not underestimate the role of this new direction in the development of modern medical science. Music therapy can treat neurotic disorders, various phobias, stresses, and other psycho-emotional abnormalities. It allows a person to reduce the dose of drugs, prolong the therapeutic effect, and improve the overall quality of life. There is no optimal musical direction or a specific melody for the treatment of a particular disease. Positive influence can be achieved through rhythm and harmony.
Gilroy, Andrea, and Colin Lee, eds. Art and Music: Therapy and Research. Routledge, 2019.
Irons, J. Yoon, et al. “A Systematic Review on the Effects of Group Singing on Persistent Pain in People with Long‐Term Health Conditions.” European Journal of Pain, vol. 24, no. 1, 2020, pp. 71-90.
Landis-Shack, Nora, et al. “Music Therapy for Posttraumatic Stress in Adults: A Theoretical Review.” Psychomusicology: Music, Mind, and Brain, vol. 27, no. 4, 2017, p. 334.
Martin-Saavedra, Juan Sebastian, et al. “Standardizing Music Characteristics for the Management of Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Clinical Trials.” Complementary Therapies in Medicine, vol. 41, 2018, pp. 81-89.
Sundar, Sumathy. “Role of Music in Therapeutic Communication.” Effective Medical Communication, edited by Subhash Chandra Parija and Balachandra V. Adkoli Springer, 2020, pp. 247-256.