The Healing Power of Music

The Healing Power of Music?
 
I was recently offered the opportunity to play my acoustic guitar for the MAPS Medical Pain Clinic’s, “Patient Appreciation Day”. (MAPS is a local medical clinic that specializes in relieving pain and improving function in patients with persistent pain who have failed to respond to routine medical care).  The idea was just to have some entertaining music near a spread of pain fighting foods for the patients to enjoy while they waited to see their doctor.  I performed most of the day and the response was very positive.  Many patients either waved or gave me a “thumbs up” as they left the office after their appointment.  Several others paid me compliments about my music.  I noticed a common theme among the comments I was receiving from the patients throughout the day.  I was told that my music was very “soothing” and/or that it helped to reduce their pain by “taking their mind off of it.”  I wasn’t very surprised by either comment, as the former is the most common description of my music that I am given by people who have seen me play around town, and the latter was the entire reason I was brought in to play for the patients in the first place. 

Christiaan Engstrom, the COO of MAPS (the cool guy that got me the gig), and I had casually spoken about how music could be used in therapy a number of times before he finally booked me to perform at the clinic.  After all, music therapy has been around for many years as an actual profession, so it’s not like it was this new revolutionary idea that Christiaan and I hatched together.  Even before music therapy was recognized in the medical community as a legitimate form of therapy, it was essentially an ancient wisdom. 
 
My Personal Experience with Music as it Pertains to Easing Pain
 
I have personally experienced how music can help soothe pain since I was a child.  Both my brother and I have a bone disease called, “Osteogenesis Imperfecta” (sometimes referred to as “OI” for short or “brittle bone disease”).  Essentially, the bone density of our bones is that of your average 70 year olds, leaving our bones much more brittle than a typical person’s (there are varying degrees of the severity of this disease, some have it so bad that simply changing their diaper when they are babies would leave them with broken bones, my brother and I have a more mild case).  By the time I was twelve, my brother and I had a combined total of over 100 fractures between us (although we never counted broken toes, as they were so frequent we didn’t consider them to be “real” fractures).  I remember when I fractured my femur in kindergarten playing a game of “red light, green light” with my brother and sister (if you have “OI” I’d suggest that you don’t play that game on a slippery tile floor while wearing socks).  It happened during the last week of school, and I spent the entire summer stuck on the couch in our living room in a body cast (to add insult to injury, the home I grew up in had a huge picture window in said living room so I was forced into looking on while my siblings gleefully played in the front yard while I was left miserably immobile).  The room’s only saving grace was that it was where my mother’s piano was situated.  My mother would play the piano for me nearly every day (at least, I thought she was playing just for me, but she was likely just practicing) and I definitely have memories of looking forward to it, if only to focus my mind on something other than my throbbing leg.  
 
Later in life, I found that both listening to and playing music was a huge help in getting my mind off of my chronic back pain.  I have had back pain for many years, and there was a six month period in my life where my pain was so horrible that about the only thing that helped me to focus my mind on anything but the pain I was constantly enduring, was playing my acoustic guitar.  I played so much during that time period; I could probably attribute a great deal of my expertise in finger-style guitar to my chronic back pain!   

Back to MAPS

So, a few weeks after I performed for the appreciation day at MAPS, Christiaan and I got to talking more about the music therapy idea, and whether it could really be beneficial for their patients to enjoy some live music before their doctor visit on a more regular basis.  We decided to do a one month trial at the MAPS location in Edina.  I was to play guitar on Wednesday’s and Friday’s for 4 weeks near the front lobby of the clinic.  The first week went really great.  I received the same sort of comments as I did the first time I played there, the staff seemed to enjoy themselves, and one of the doctors even popped by with his harmonicas to jam some blues with me.  I was having a blast and decided I’d really dig into some information about music therapy as it pertains to chronic pain and see if there would be some justification behind the idea of me being there beyond just providing entertainment for the patients.  Could my music literally be helping to reduce people’s pain or not?

Research
 
I did what any red-blooded male under the age of 40 does when they have a new topic they’d like to investigate: I sat in front of my computer and pulled up Google.  I found so many studies and articles from reputable sources such as the Journal of Pain, Men’s Fitness, BrainFacts.org, Weill Cornell Medical College, the International Association for Music and Medicine (IAMM) etc. that backed up the assertion that music can literally fight pain, I was overwhelmed.  One study I read said participants who concentrated on songs while receiving electric shocks actually cut their pain levels by 17 percent compared to others who did not.  Several more discovered that a great deal of the brain pathways that process pain are also used to process music.  So, naturally, if you’re focus is on a piece of music, the brain pathways that would be processing the pain are tied up processing the music.  A South Korean study found that people who listened to music while they rested for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at night, on postoperative days, experienced 26 to 27 percent less pain than a control group who rested without listening to music.
 
Some Types of Music are More Effective
There were a number of studies I read about that suggested that certain types of music are more effective at reducing pain than others.  For instance, many studies found that more uplifting music, or songs with harmonies that are more pleasing to the ears, were better at relieving pain than dissonant music (i.e. tri tones or other “clashing” notes aren’t as effective as say, songs with major chords).  Other studies found that people experienced a larger reduction in their pain when they listened intently to music they were familiar with as opposed to songs they didn’t know.

Obviously, all of this lends some credence to the idea that my acoustic guitar playing is actually having a profound effect on the overall level of pain that the patients visiting MAPS are experiencing during their wait.  The majority of the music I play is consonant (i.e. harmonious sounding) as opposed to dissonant, and I play a lot of songs that most people are very familiar with (pop/rock hits spanning several eras).
 
A Future at MAPS?

As I write this blog, we are beginning the second week of our four week trial.  At this point, the staff at MAPS and I have considered this initiative to be a huge success.  Patients are telling their doctors about how much they enjoy the tunes, not to mention all of the foot tapping I see in the waiting room while I play.  I can’t be certain how the next few weeks will go, but I am hopeful that patient reactions to the live music will continue to be positive enough for them to consider adding me as a permanent fixture in their front lobby for the months ahead.

19 comments

  • Bunny Meier
    Bunny Meier Bloomington
    I enjoy your music very much and find it very uplifting whenever I hear you play. What a great idea. I can only imagine the joy you bring to others.

    I enjoy your music very much and find it very uplifting whenever I hear you play. What a great idea. I can only imagine the joy you bring to others.

  • Jason Zimmerman
    Jason Zimmerman Bloomington
    Aww, thanks Bunny! You and the rest of the fam are always the best audience a musician could ask for. ;-)

    Aww, thanks Bunny! You and the rest of the fam are always the best audience a musician could ask for. ;-)

  • Your brother from another mother.
    Your brother from another mother.
    Your guitars get around more than a truck stop whore. Now get back to playing some Foo! :)

    Your guitars get around more than a truck stop whore. Now get back to playing some Foo! smile

  • Millna
    Millna Helsinki
    I am thinking to have info [url=https://www.sdjflkahsdlf.com/]safsadf[/url]

    I am thinking to have info safsadf

  • Brad Haddiin
    Brad Haddiin Kolkata
    Individuals who are sorted out by any nation should give ambiguous decision to high whimsy individuals. I am so tormented to scrutinize [url=https://allessayvikings.com/99papers-review/]99 papers[/url] on the web and to welcome the end level of dull individuals during the hour of 1999 and 2016 which is indicating that white individuals are killing powerless individuals.

    Individuals who are sorted out by any nation should give ambiguous decision to high whimsy individuals. I am so tormented to scrutinize 99 papers on the web and to welcome the end level of dull individuals during the hour of 1999 and 2016 which is indicating that white individuals are killing powerless individuals.

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous United States
    That is one of the main reasons that I am very much interested in knowing the history of the things. As most of the time their names are greatly related with their history. Also sometimes you can realize the importance write my college paper of the thing just by knowing its name like this one here shows its importance by its name that is “cure all”.

    That is one of the main reasons that I am very much interested in knowing the history of the things. As most of the time their names are greatly related with their history. Also sometimes you can realize the importance write my college paper of the thing just by knowing its name like this one here shows its importance by its name that is “cure all”.

  • Ethan Mills
    Ethan Mills New York
    Nice knowledge gaining article. This post is really the best on this valuable topic [url=https://www.danezon.com/category/movies-jackets/kingsman-merchandise/ ] Kingsman Jacket[/url]

    Nice knowledge gaining article. This post is really the best on this valuable topic Kingsman Jacket

  • Kaths
    Kaths USA
    This blog is great. I have found profitable information from this blog. I like its comments. thanks for info. [url=https://www.hjackets.com/blog/wonder-woman-1984-costume-guide/]Wonder Woman 1984 Costume[/url]

    This blog is great. I have found profitable information from this blog. I like its comments. thanks for info.
    Wonder Woman 1984 Costume

  • Kaths
    Kaths USA
    Very well written post and very helpful to me. [url=https://www.ujackets.com/blog/scarlett-johansson-black-widow-white-costume-cosplay-diy-guide/]Black Widow Costume[/url]

    Very well written post and very helpful to me.
    Black Widow Costume

  • mariakim
    mariakim United States
    This article is really contains lot more information about This Topic. We have read your all the information some points are also good and some usually are awesome. https://www.essaysolution.co.uk Great post I would like to thank you for the efforts you have ma

    This article is really contains lot more information about This Topic. We have read your all the information some points are also good and some usually are awesome. https://www.essaysolution.co.uk Great post I would like to thank you for the efforts you have ma

  • davidjoe
    davidjoe United States
    Excellent read, Positive site, where did u come up with the information on this posting? I have read a few of the articles on your website now, and I really like your style. https://www.dissertationwritinguk.co.uk Thanks a million and please keep up the effective work

    Excellent read, Positive site, where did u come up with the information on this posting? I have read a few of the articles on your website now, and I really like your style. https://www.dissertationwritinguk.co.uk Thanks a million and please keep up the effective work

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous new jersey
    That is one of the main reasons that I am very much interested in knowing the history of the things. As most of the time their names are greatly related with their history. Lee Fur Jacket Also sometimes you can realize the importance of the thing just by knowing its name like this one here shows its importance by its name that is “cure all”.

    That is one of the main reasons that I am very much interested in knowing the history of the things. As most of the time their names are greatly related with their history. Lee Fur Jacket Also sometimes you can realize the importance of the thing just by knowing its name like this one here shows its importance by its name that is “cure all”.

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous new jersey
    This is a really decent site post. Not very numerous individuals would really, the way you simply did. I am truly inspired that there is such a great amount of data about this subject have been revealed https://www.assignmenthelperuk.co.uk/ and you've put forth a valiant effort, with so much class. On the off chance that needed to know more about green smoke surveys, than by all methods come in and check our stuff.

    This is a really decent site post. Not very numerous individuals would really, the way you simply did. I am truly inspired that there is such a great amount of data about this subject have been revealed https://www.assignmenthelperuk.co.uk/ and you've put forth a valiant effort, with so much class. On the off chance that needed to know more about green smoke surveys, than by all methods come in and check our stuff.

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous United States
    The post is really superb. It’s varied accessory information that consists during a basic and necessary method. Thanks for sharing this text. The substance is genuinely composed. Eddie Murphy Jacket This web log is frequently sharing useful actualities. Keep sharing a lot of posts.

    The post is really superb. It’s varied accessory information that consists during a basic and necessary method. Thanks for sharing this text. The substance is genuinely composed. Eddie Murphy Jacket This web log is frequently sharing useful actualities. Keep sharing a lot of posts.

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous United States
    It is good to hear that your store is now expanding to new locations. I have been a patron of Fantastic Eyes because of all the wonderful work that you guys do. I hope that this expansion Watch Dogs Leather Vest move of yours will turn out to be successful. I will definitely go and see this new store of yours

    It is good to hear that your store is now expanding to new locations. I have been a patron of Fantastic Eyes because of all the wonderful work that you guys do. I hope that this expansion Watch Dogs Leather Vest move of yours will turn out to be successful. I will definitely go and see this new store of yours

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous United States
    I believe this will help your website become more organized because you have decided to set a part on this site for the inquiries regarding tax and as well as the helpful discussions. help with essay helper To be honest, this is one of the few sites that are doing this kind of strategy. Also, I think that this will not only benefit your clients or the potential ones but you most especially because you will be able to see the questions easier.

    I believe this will help your website become more organized because you have decided to set a part on this site for the inquiries regarding tax and as well as the helpful discussions. help with essay helper To be honest, this is one of the few sites that are doing this kind of strategy. Also, I think that this will not only benefit your clients or the potential ones but you most especially because you will be able to see the questions easier.

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous United States
    It is good to hear that your store is now expanding to new locations. I have been a patron of Fantastic Eyes because of all the wonderful work that you guys do. I hope that this expansion move of help with assignment crux yours will turn out to be successful. I will definitely go and see this new store of yours

    It is good to hear that your store is now expanding to new locations. I have been a patron of Fantastic Eyes because of all the wonderful work that you guys do. I hope that this expansion move of help with assignment crux yours will turn out to be successful. I will definitely go and see this new store of yours

  • Marie
    Marie Poland
    wow

    wow

  • Geric
    Geric Sweden
    There is no need for me to read the whole article because music has played a huge role in my life ever since. When I am sad, music is there to lift my spirit up. I am sure that I am not the only one who experienced it. There are lots of people who were saved by music, that's why we are so thankful for the blessing of music. Music allows me to write [url=https://allessayvikings.com/essaysoft-review/]essay soft[/url] and do a lot of stuff which I am very thankful of!

    There is no need for me to read the whole article because music has played a huge role in my life ever since. When I am sad, music is there to lift my spirit up. I am sure that I am not the only one who experienced it. There are lots of people who were saved by music, that's why we are so thankful for the blessing of music. Music allows me to write essay soft and do a lot of stuff which I am very thankful of!

Add comment