The nonprofit Institute for Music and Neurologic Function (IMNF) was founded in 1995 on the idea that music has unique powers to heal, rehabilitate, and inspire. Since then it has become a leading authority on music therapy research and education.
According to the National Center for Creative Aging, “the arts can serve as a powerful way to engage elders in a creative and healing process of self-expression, enabling them to create works that honor their life experience.” That organization’s Creative Aging Toolkit is designed to help leaders and program staff create programs that enhance the lives of older adults, helping them discover a new sense of purpose, collaboration, and community through music.
The second most common reason why people visit their doctor is back pain. In fact, about 65 million Americans suffer from back pain. Whether you play drums, guitar, violin, or trombone, you are at risk of developing back pain. As a musician, it can have a severe detrimental effect on your ability to enjoy playing.
“At the Dallas School of Music [DSM] we’re finding more and more adults are wanting to learn music,” says DSM President Dr. Bob Lawrence, “It appears to be a combination of parents who want to learn along with their kids and older adults who are remembering how much fun they had in school band, choir, and orchestra.”
Last year Linda Ronstadt announced that she has Parkinson’s disease and can no longer sing. In an AARP Magazine interview she stated, “No one can sing with Parkinson’s. No matter how hard you try.” Music therapists and other experts who work with Parkinson’s disease patients, say this is not true. While she may no longer be able to sing, many people can and do sing, and for some, it is part of their Parkinson’s treatment.
A study by the Leiden University Medical Center Department of Cardiology, published in the Netherlands Heart Journal, shows that playing music may improve cardiovascular health. The researchers measured cardiovascular health in 25 musicians and nonmusicians, aged 18 to 30. The subjects were similar in terms of height, weight, and lifestyle factors like physical exercise and diet. The musicians had significantly lower blood pressure and heart rates than their nonmusician counterparts.
A program created by songwriter Darden Smith, SongwritingWith:Soldiers is not music therapy, nor is it a songwriting workshop. It’s about listening and using music to let soldiers tell their stories, and even more importantly, make them feel heard.
What causes this misalignment and pressure on a nerve? Stress! Whether it is physical, chemical, or emotional, stress can cause dysfunction within the nervous system. Musicians have major physical stress. Repetitively playing an instrument in the same position and utilizing the same muscles over and over again puts major physical demands on the body. RSI, either combined with poor posture ergonomics or independent of each other, is direct physical stress that can cause subluxations in the spine or joints of the upper extremities.
“Hearing protection is for sissies,” says my guitar playing friend Pete. He casually signs the internationally understood words for “earplug” and “feather weight” in my direction. Years of thunderous nights in tiny clubs have left him aurally impotent. It’s sad to see. With proper ear protection, his life may have turned out differently.
Blisters are small, raised lesions in which fluid collects under the skin. They are frequently caused by friction, so it is no surprise that musicians, from drummers to guitarists to clarinet players get blisters on their hands. Though they are relatively minor injuries, blisters can cause enough discomfort to curb your playing.