Music Therapy: How Different Music Genres Affect Your Health

music therapy

Runners often use music to train, as do cyclists and other endurance athletes, and there are even apps that match the playlist they are listening to to their pace. Many people use music to focus and relax while they are at work, and writers and artists use music to inspire creativity. We listen to certain types of music on our commutes to work, often to relax us and prepare us for our day. Studies even show that employees who listen to music at work are more productive than their counterparts.

But music therapy has gone far beyond working out, commuting, and making us more productive at work. Music therapy is a spreading practice that has an amazingly positive impact on patient health in situations ranging from surgery to the recovery period afterward.

Does it matter what genre you listen to? In some cases, the answer is yes. Different music affects your health in different ways, and knowing what to listen to and when can literally transform your life.

Rock and Roll Isn’t Noise Pollution

You might think that instrumental, classical music would be the ideal choice for many situations, but that simply isn’t true. In fact, one of the many ways to use music is in keeping tempo in hands-only CPR. Ironically enough, the song “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gees has exactly the right tempo, 103 beats per minute.

However, that is not the only song, as any song with a rhythm of 100-125 beats per minute is ideal. In fact, the New York Presbyterian Hospital released an entire playlist of CPR timed songs in 2017. They include rock great Lynyrd Skynyrd, among others.

That is not the only way rock and roll music is saving lives and healing. The Taylor Swift song, “Shake it Off,” turns out to have just the right timing to illustrate the seven steps of handwashing. A nurse trainer, Ross Mawhinney, made a video on Facebook and is convinced that it is a much better memory aid than posters put up all over hospitals. Since then, other similar videos have followed, including one parody about hand washing to avoid the flu.

Seriously, music has been proven to affect mood, inspire emotions, lower stress levels, and have a significant positive impact on cardiac health, blood pressure, and more. This often depends on the musical taste of the patient and the emotion the music itself inspires. Rock and Roll not only is not noise pollution, it can be a big part of medical care.

Binaural Beats Therapy

The idea of music therapy goes far beyond traditional and even pop music. There is a new type of music being created intentionally for its healing power. Binaural music beats is a type of audio therapy where two different tones are played in the right and left ears, but the brain perceives them as the same tone.

Much like the practice of meditation, this type of therapy can be done at home with nearly any device that can play music and a pair of stereo headphones. There are different frequency patterns currently available, and each has a different effect on the brain.

  • Delta: 1-4 htz, associated with dreamless sleep.
  • Theta: 4-8 htz, associated with REM sleep.
  • Alpha: 8-12 htz, associated with relaxation
  • Beta: 14-100 htz, promotes concentration and focus, but can produce anxiety in some listeners at higher levels.

This therapy is relatively new, but early research suggests that it is very effective. These beats can be purchased easily worldwide, and this therapy can be done by patients at home as long as they are in a distraction-free environment.

Of course, like any new therapy, not all of the side effects or results are clear yet, so checking with a health professional before starting this therapy is essential. Still, it shows some amazing promise when it comes to music, audio health, and therapy.

Someone Like You

Besides as helpers in CPR, memory tricks, and music designed just for therapy, there are other music therapy benefits as well. Classical and rock music have been shown to help the heart push blood through blood vessels and even make hardened arteries more supple.

Still, researchers wondered if there was more, and if music could actually help lower blood pressure and improve cardiac health. So they took patients and had them take their normal blood pressure medication, then monitored them for 60 minutes afterward — one day while they were listening to music and again the next day while they were wearing headphones with no sound coming through them.

The answer was simply that, in those listening to music, heart rates dropped over the 60 minutes following taking medication, while they did not drop at all in those who listened to nothing. The songs included instrumental versions of “Hello” and “Someone Like You” by Adele, as well as “Watermark” by Enya.

What does this mean to the average person? That music therapy could indeed help someone like you or someone you love have better heart health. This is a great argument for music therapy for seniors.

Music therapy is indeed becoming more mainstream. From how we exercise to intentional music created for therapy, promoting good habits, and music that is good for your heart, it can only make more of a difference over time. Genre affects mood and emotions, and the more we understand those effects, the more effectively we can use music to promote good health.

Magnolia Potter is a muggle from the Pacific Northwest who writes from time to time and covers a variety of topics. When Magnolia’s not writing, you can find her curled up with a good book. You can follow her on Twitter.

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