successful in life

How music can help you heal

Music therapy can calm anxiety, ease pain, and provide a pleasant diversion during chemotherapy or a hospital stay.

It’s almost impossible to find someone who doesn’t feel a strong connection to music. Even if you can’t carry a tune or play an instrument, you can probably reel off a list of songs that evoke happy memories and raise your spirits. Surgeons have long played their favorite music to relieve stress in the operating room, and extending music to patients has been linked to improved surgical outcomes. In the past few decades, music therapy has played an increasing role in all facets of healing.

What is music therapy?

Music therapy is a burgeoning field. People who become certified music therapists are usually accomplished musicians who have deep knowledge of how music can evoke emotional responses to relax or stimulate people or help them heal. They combine this knowledge with their familiarity with a wide variety of musical styles to find the specific kind that can get you through a challenging physical rehab session or guide you into meditation. And they can find that music in your favorite genre, be it electropop or grand opera.

Holly Chartrand, a music therapist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital, first trained as a vocalist. She decided to become a music therapist when she realized that she could use music to support others just as it had supported her throughout her life. “The favorite part of my job is seeing how big an impact music can have on someone who isn’t feeling well,” she says.

Music therapists know few boundaries. They may play music for you or with you, or even teach you how to play an instrument. On a given day, Chartrand may be toting a tank drum, a ukulele, or an iPad and speakers into a patient’s room. “Technology gives us so much access to all kinds of music that I can find and play almost any kind of music you like,” she says.

The evidence for music therapy’s benefits

A growing body of research attests that music therapy is more than a nice perk. It can improve medical outcomes and quality of life in a variety of ways. Here’s a sampling:

Easing anxiety and discomfort during procedures. In controlled clinical trials of people having colonoscopies, cardiac angiography, or knee surgery, those who listened to music before their procedure had less anxiety and less need for sedatives. People who listened to music in the operating room reported less discomfort during their procedure. And those who heard music in the recovery room used less opioid medication for pain.

Restoring lost speech. Music therapy can help people who are recovering from a stroke or traumatic brain injury that has damaged the left-brain region responsible for speech. Because singing ability originates in the right side of the brain, people can work around the injury to the left side of their brain by first singing their thoughts and then gradually dropping the melody. Former U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords used this technique to enable her to testify before a Congressional committee two years after a gunshot wound to her brain destroyed her ability to speak.

Reducing side effects of cancer therapy. Listening to music reduces anxiety associated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It can also quell nausea and vomiting for patients receiving chemotherapy.

Helping with physical therapy and rehabilitation. If you exercise to a playlist, you’ve probably noticed that music helps you stick to your routine. In fact, a 2011 analysis of several studies suggests that music therapy enhances people’s physical, psychological, cognitive, and emotional functioning during physical rehabilitation programs.

Aiding pain relief. Music therapy has been tested in a variety of patients, ranging from those with intense short-term pain to those with chronic pain from arthritis. Over all, music therapy decreases pain perception, reduces the amount of pain medication needed, helps relieve depression in pain patients, and gives them a sense of better control over their pain.

Improving quality of life for people with dementia. Because the ability to engage with music remains intact late into the disease process, music therapy can help to evoke memories, reduce agitation, assist communication, and improve physical coordination.

 

How playing piano makes you more successful in life

Happy man standing on a mountain

Did you know that when you’re learning to play the piano you are actually improving several skills that will help you be more successful in other areas such as university or work? In fact, multiple studies link the study of music to increased success in other fields, as this article from the New York Times points out.

So what is it that makes musicians more successful in life? Here is a list of six essential skills that you will master by practicing the piano:

1. Playing the piano sharpens your concentration

Student

When you’re playing the piano, you have to focus on the rhythm, pitch, tempo, note duration, and several other things. Even though your’re doing something you acutally enjoy, this is really a multi-level concentration exercise.

In fact, studies have shown that every time a musicians picks up his or her instrument, there are fireworks going on in his or her brain (for more information, see this Ted Lesson). Playing an musical instrument is perhaps the only activity during which almost all brain areas are simultaneously activated.

2. Playing the piano teaches you perseverance

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Learning new songs on the piano takes time and effort. Until you can actually play a song fluently by heart, you’ll probably spend several weeks practicing it. As you look forward to being able to play the song, you stay motivated, learn patience, and increase your perseverance. These skills will always help you when you are confronted with difficult tasks at school, university, or at work.

3. Playing the piano teaches you discipline

Playing the piano can be quite challenging. However, practicing frequently and working hard will not only teach you perseverance, but also discipline. Consider the parts of the song you will have to practice over and over again. There is one “magic key” to successfully playing the piano (and yes, I will share it with you, just like that): practice, practice, practice.

Practicing regularly requires discipline. Maybe at the beginning it will be harder for you. Maybe you have to come up with some little treats to get yourself there. However, slowly but surely, you’ll get used to it and being disciplined about your practice time won’t be hard at all

4. Playing piano improves your time management skills

full schedule

Many of us have quite busy schedules. Unfortunately, scientists haven’t found a way to make one day last more than 24 hours yet. So to get all your activities and duties done, you need to organize them. When you get used to practicing regularly, you also learn how to use your time efficiently and how you can use a 20-minute time slot for a quick piano lesson.

5. Playing the piano improves your emotional intelligence

Playing the piano enhances your listening skills. These are also very important when you interact with other people. Emotions are not only expressed by facial expressions and body language, but also by the tone of voice, the speed of speech, and the melody of speech. People who play an instrument are better listeners, and it is not surprising that studies have actually revealed that musicians are more perceptive in interpreting the emotions of others.

6. Playing the piano increases your memory capacity

voller Stundenplan

Playing the piano stimulates your brain. While you learn and play songs, the stimulated areas of your brain become larger and therefore more active. The areas that are responsible for the storage of audio information, particularly, are more developed in musicians then in non-musicians.

So when you play the piano, your ability to memorize audio information increases. The chance of saying something like: “I’m sorry! Maybe you told me, but I really don’t remember…” most likely will occur less often.

Isn’t it amazing what playing the piano can do for you? If you’ve always been looking for an excuse to pick up that tricky piano, well, here — now you’ve got more than one. 🙂