“Music, uniquely among the arts, is both completely abstract and profoundly emotional. It has no power to represent anything particular or external, but it has a unique power to express inner states or feelings. Music can pierce the heart directly; it needs no mediation.”― Oliver Sacks, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain
People and Music
Rhythm is defined as a repeated pattern of movement or sound. All of us may experience different patterns, but we are all rhythmic beings. For instance, we all share naturally occurring rhythms in our bodies. When is the last time you paused to feel your heartbeat? What is the rhythm of your breath in this current moment? I encourage you to take a minute to focus on those things. Tuning into your body can allow you to explore what your current rhythm is, and give you space to connect to the present moment.
Let’s pretend that in this present moment you are listening to music. Rhythm is the key element to any piece of music and these patterns influence us whether we realize it or not. Music and rhythm can stimulate our brains and cause changes to our bodies, behaviors, and emotions. If you are listening to fast music, your heartbeat will automatically increase. This might motivate you to dance or exercise. Similarly, if you are listening to slow music, your heartbeat will be slower and may give you a sense of ease or relaxation.
Therapy and Music
Music therapy is a practice that uses research-based music interventions for non-musical goals. Music alone is therapeutic. It taps into the emotional centers of the brain, surfacing a variety of emotions depending on the music we are listening to. This concept can be used intentionally to help create changes in your body and behavior. As a result, therapists can help clients access certain emotions in their sessions.
These techniques can work with a wide range of individuals to address physical, cognitive, social, and emotional needs. Music therapy may not be for everyone, however, many patients who have used music in their sessions end up preferring it. This practice has a variety of approaches including analyzing song lyrics, writing songs, making music, or listening to music for relaxation and mindfulness.
Try It Out
We challenge you to practice on your own, right now! Think of a song that brings you back to a certain time in your life. Think of the scenario, who you were with, and what kind of emotions the song brings to you.