Music Therapy is the use of music and music related activities to modify ineffective learning patterns, to promote emotional, mental, social and physical growth and to develop non-musical goals. Music is a magical medium and a very powerful tool. Music Therapy is a creative, flexible and sometimes spontaneous means of using the appeal of music to help people of all ages and abilities. Music can delight all the senses and inspire every fiber of our being. Music has the power to soothe and relax, bring us comfort and appreciation. There is music for every mood and for every occasion. Some of these include labor and delivery, oncology, pain management, physical rehabilitation, and pediatrics. Music Therapy is incorporated in a number of areas of medicine.

Music has always been a great healer. In the Bible, we learn about how David played the harp to help ease his severe depression of King Saul. Research has shown that music has a profound effect on your body and psyche. Music with a strong beat can stimulate brainwaves to resonate in sync with the beat, with faster beats bringing sharper concentration and more alert thinking, and a slower tempo promoting a calm, meditative state. Also, research has found that the change in brainwave activity levels that music can bring can also enable the brain to shift speeds more easily on its own as needed, which means that music can bring lasting benefits to your state of mind, even after you’ve stopped listening.

Music Therapy is an established health care profession that uses music to address physical, psychological, cognitive and social functioning.

According to Dr. Arthur Harvey, there are four distinct ways in which our brain responds to music: cognitive, affective, physical, and transpersonal. In other words we can experience music by analyzing its structure (melody, harmony, rhythm, tone, form, etc.), by feeling the music with our emotions, by noticing the affects of music on our heart rate, breathing, etc. or feeling a connection to God through music.

From a child with autism to an elderly person in a bell choir, Music Therapy can make the difference between isolation and interaction. Music subtly bypasses the intellectual stimulus in the brain and moves directly to the emotional center. Music Therapy has been shown to have influences on the immune system, blood pressure, heart and respiratory rates, and pain perception. It is believed that music stimulates the pituitary gland, whose secretions affect the nervous system and the flow of blood. The right kind of music helps one relax and refresh. Even during the course of working, light music improves efficiency. Music and sound has also been shown to kill cancer cells. Listening to music helps control negative aspects of our personalities like worry, bias and anger. It can help cure headache, abdominal pain and tension. Music therapy is one of the most effective ways of controlling emotions, blood pressure and restoring the functioning of the liver. Vibrational therapy sessions can be used to affect physiological changes such as lowering of blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle tension. Studies have shown that music used as medicine can increase the immune function and decrease ACTH (stress) hormones.

Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program. Research in music therapy supports its effectiveness in many areas such as: overall physical rehabilitation and facilitating movement, increasing people’s motivation to become engaged in their treatment, providing emotional support for clients and their families, and providing an outlet for expression of feelings. It is believed that for healing with music, it is necessary to vibrate the cells of the body, for it is through these vibrations that the diseased person’s consciousness can be changed effectively to promote health.

Music captivates and maintains attention, stimulating and utilizing many parts of the brain. Music is adapted to, and can be reflective of, a person’s ability. Music structures time in a way that we can understand. Music provides a meaningful, enjoyable context for repetition. Music sets up a social context by setting up a safe, structured setting for verbal and nonverbal communication. Music is an effective memory aid. Music supports and encourages movement. Music taps into memories and emotions. Music and its related silence, provide nonverbal, immediate feedback. Music is success oriented. People of all ability levels can participate.

The idea of music as a healing influence which could affect health and behavior is as least as old as the writings of Aristotle and Plato. Plato shared this profound belief, “Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness, gaiety and life to everything. It is the essence of order, and leads to all that is good, just, and beautiful, of which it is the invisible, but nevertheless dazzling, passionate and eternal form.”

The 20th century discipline began after World War I and World War II when community musicians of all types, both amateur and professional, went to Veterans hospitals around the country to play for the thousands of veterans suffering both physical and emotional trauma from the wars. The patients’ notable physical and emotional responses to music led the doctors and nurses to request the hiring of musicians by the hospitals. It was soon evident that the hospital musicians needed some prior training before entering the facility and so the demand grew for a college curriculum.

In the mystery schools of Egypt and Greece, healing and sound were considered a highly developed sacred science. Pythagoras, one of the wise teachers in ancient Greece, knew how to work with sound. He taught his students how certain musical chords and melodies produce definite responses within the human organism. He demonstrated that the right sequence of sounds, played musically on an instrument, could actually change behavior patterns and accelerate the healing process.

In 1993 Goldman & Gurin’s work on psycho-immunology revealed that nerve fibers are contained in every organ of the immune system, which provide biological communication between the nerve endings and the immune system. They believe that there is a direct link between a person’s thoughts, attitudes, perceptions, and emotions, and the health of the immune system. This being the case, we have the ability to be proactive in the health of our body, mind and spirit through music. The first music therapy degree program in the world, founded at Michigan State University in 1944, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1994. Deepak Chopra has beautifully written, “Where is music? You can find it at many levels in the vibrating strings, the trip of the hammers, the fingers striking the keys, the black marks on the paper, or the nerve impulses produced in the player’s brain. But all of these are just codes; the reality of music is the shimmering, beautiful, invisible form that haunts our memories without ever being present in the physical world.”

Music increases the metabolic activities within the human body. It accelerates the respiration, influences the internal secretion, improves the muscular activities and as such affects the “Central Nervous System” and Circulatory System of the listener and the performer

The universe is a tonal symphony of many sounds interacting and vibrating together. Music is the pulse of the energy that courses in and through everything through vibrations.

Our listening process starts with hearing. Beginning at the sixteenth week after conception and continuing until our death, hearing is a constant physical phenomenon. Sound waves are captured by the outer ear (known as the pinna), and travel down the auditory canal, through the eardrum and into the middle ear. There, the vibration of tiny bones called ossicles intensifies sound, and the amplified sound then travels to the inner ear through a maze of fluid-filled tubes, running through the temporal bone of the skull. Eventually the vibrations of sound reach the cochlea (a coiled chamber), which is lined with four rows of tiny hair-like acoustic sensor cells containing neurons. Each neuron is programmed to pick up a different frequency and the sound meets with the neuron that matches its own frequency. The cochlea then converts the vibrational energy to electrical impulses that travel to the brain, and from there, travel to the brain stem. This energy at the brain stem activates the limbic system. It is here that emotional and physical reactions are produced. Sound energy then moves on to the auditory cortex of the brain where we become conscious of the sound and can recognize what we are hearing.

As your brain comprehends the sounds or in this case the music, the electrical energy released by the neurons creates various frequencies of brain waves. The brain waves that are created (beta, alpha, theta, and delta) determine what “state of mind” you are in. Beta waves are most prevalent during focused and active thinking, alpha waves during relaxation and quiet creativity, theta waves during meditation and pre-sleep, and delta waves during our various stages of sleep (both dreaming and dreamless.)

Once through your brain, music in the form of electrical impulses makes their way down your spinal cord causing an impact on the autonomic nervous system. This, in turn, can impact heart rate, pulse, blood pressure, and muscle tension. As an example, listening to the heavy metal will increase autonomic nervous system activity driving the heart rate and blood pressure up, whereas Brahms Lullaby will slow down the brainwaves and in turn lower blood pressure and hear rate. Science has proven that music focused in the higher register increases tension. Conversely, music played in the lower register reduces tension. Music that is played at a tempo of 80-90 beats per minute increases tension, while music at played at 40-60 beats per minute decreases tension.

Barbara Crowe, past president of the National Association of Music Therapy, suggests music and rhythm create their healing effects by calming the constant chatter of the left brain. She said, “A loud repetitive sound sends a constant signal to the cortex, masking input from other senses like vision, touch, and smell.” When sensory input is decreased, the normally noisy left brain with its internal conversations, analyses, and logical judgments subsides to a murmur, stimulating deeper parts of the brain that are throne-rooms of symbols, visualization, and emotions. “This is the seat of ritual in tribal societies,” she observes. “There is a clear, distinct parallel between traditional shamanism and the practices we do in music therapy today.”

Music enters into the body through the ear, and the bones of the body act like a tuning fork. The neurological fields of the body are then stimulated by music. Music is a means by which all people can feel these healing vibrations. Even people with profound handicaps can benefit from music’s healing affects. Research in physiological responses to music supports the hypothesis that listening to music influences a person’s autonomic responses.

Music has frequently been used as a therapeutic agent from the ancient times. Music is a kind of yoga system through the medium of sonorous sound, which acts upon the human organism and awakens and develops their proper functions to extent of self-realisation. This is the ultimate goal of Hindu Philosophy and religion. Melody is the key-note of Indian Music. The ‘Raga’ is the basis of melody. Classical Indian ragas can benefit a whole host of conditions ranging from insomnia, high and low blood pressure to schizophrenia and epilepsy.

Raag Sarang gives you peace of mind. Patients with high blood pressure should listen to Raag Malkaunse. Raag Bhoop and Darabari Kanara help patients suffering from insomnia. Patients suffering from depression should listen to Sitar and Tabla. “Omkar” helps in reducing chest diseases. Raag Yaman helps you forget your sufferings. Patient should listen to Raag Ahirbhairav, Todi, Bhairav early in the morning for 20 to 40 min. It is also studied that Raag Bhairav played on flute shows increase in cow’s milk output.