Monthly Archives: August 2014

Power in Music: Can Listening to a Song Help to Cure Depression and Anxiety?


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At the age of 8, I approached the piano for the first time in a lesson format. The teacher was welcoming and I was excited to begin learning. Yet, there was this anxiety coursing through my body and I grew nervous seeing all of those black and white keys scattered across the instrument. All of a sudden my teacher, Jackie, started to play this wonderful piece by Debussy. It was not so much the inspiration to learn but the actual sounds that made me more calm. From then on, whenever I felt nervous or had a bad week, I would ask Jackie to play me a song. These songs brought me into perspective of place and gave me this nurturing sense of belonging.

Music has the ability to place individuals in different states of mind. When listening, many can recall events in their lives from various times in their lives. From the dawn of man, differing cultures have shown evidence of the use of music for healing or mediative purposes. In 1918, an article was published in The Music Quarterly about this subject. The author, James Frederick Rogers, stated that “music exhibits an influence upon the circulation of blood” and that “musical tones usually increase the beat of the heart and the frequency of respiration” (Rogers 368). The very existence of rhythm and tone has the ability to tap into ones internal circuitry and unleash endorphins and other neurotransmitters. As a medicinal supplement, music would work brilliantly.. In Rogers’ article he highlights a passage in Robert Burton’s “The Anatomy of Melancholy”: “divine music not only [expels] the greatest griefs, but it doth extenuate fears and furies, appeaseth cruelty, abateth heaviness, and to such as are watchful it causeth quiet rest”… “it cures all irksomeness and heaviness of soul” (Rogers 370). It is in our divine nature to be healed by various melodies and tones.

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         Musical therapy have been proven to work in multiple situations. Firstly, the American Psychological Association states that those patients who listened to classical music while getting an ivy felt less pain ( This shows that music can not only make people reminisce about happy times in their lives but it can trick the brain into creating a more euphoric state, thus promoting a less painful environment for the person listening to it. Pursuing this further, I encountered this captivating article about a mentally challenged patient suddenly clinging to his mother for the first time in ten years after listening to a filtered version of her voice. This cure is called sonic rebirth and it is quite interesting. The voice reminded the patient of being in the womb so he cuddled in his mothers lap and sucked his thumb as if he was not born yet. Basically, the article established that music not only benefits people with depression or anxiety but surely helps “people with autism” ( In conclusion, music allows for everyone to find their place or vibrational niche. The differing tones and rhythms alter the very beats in our body and can change our lives for the better. just listen and enjoy.

Works Cited

“Music as Medicine.” Http:// American Psychological Association, Nov. 2013.                Web. 21 Aug. 2014.

Rericks, J. “Music Therapy: A Possible Treatment for Autism.” Cobbers on the Brain.                          WordPress, 20 Dec. 2011. Web. 21 Aug. 2014.

Rogers, James Frederick. “Music as Medicine.” The Musical Quarterly 4.3 (1918): 365-75.                     JSTOR. Web. 21 Aug. 2014. <>.


Vanderbilt and Downtown Nashville

CHVRCHES: The Mother we Share

That song right there was what I woke up to this morning. It was cool, upbeat and gave me a little bit of energy for the long day ahead. As I changed into class dress and threw my name tag into my backpack, I started to think about how this day would go. Will we tour the medical school and just walk around the campus for a while? Will I become inspired to apply for an extra few years of education? Will I run into someone famous in the streets of Nashville? I ran out of my room, rounded the corner to the staircase, and tumbled down the stairs (as usual). It was 7:45 and I wanted to make a sandwich at McClurg so I sprinted there and did just that. Before I could catch my breath, I found myself tapping the roof of the van so my angel would stay with me on the hour and a half car ride. We started by playing the song Happy by Pharell and went through every genre possible: country, rap, metal, and hawaiian. We arrived in the Medical Center parking lot in a frantic state because our van could not fit anywhere. After we entered the medical building we sat at a rectangular to begin learning about the medical school. Then, we went to this simulation hall where all of the med students had the ability to practice in real life situations. The amount of technology and innovation was incredible. I got to take the pulse of a robot which was quite cool.

Soon after that, we toured the entire center, did a question and answer with the admissions staff, and then made our way to the ER. Being in such a tense environment made me want to pursue a health profession that much more. It was a constant flow of sickness and pain. It was hell on earth, yet all of the doctors in surgeons had the power to save many lives.This notion—-saving a life—is why I have so much respect for them. In the blink of an eye I found myself racing past stretchers and swooping through the doorway into the dense, muggy Nashville air. We toured the nursing center went to downtown Nashville. I cannot explain how cool Nashville was. Every other bar had a brilliant band playing in full swing and there were boot shops, candy shops, and restaurants on which to gaze upon. We ate at the hard rock cafe, then made our way home. This sandwich is called The Texan.

Picture I took of Nashville for my snapchat story

Music and Medicine

Music plays a huge role in everyones lives. It is related to our culture. Music helps us create our own identity by relating to the words or the rhythm of a song, thus naturally it can significantly effect a place. Music can take you back to a memory, make you think of a loved one, or even alter your mood entirely. There is in some ways a direct correlation to our emotions and music. When you’re upset, you may listen to softer music. When you’re excited, you might choose to have extremely upbeat music that is only played correctly if it is turned all the way up and the windows are rolled all the way down. For instance, the song “Classic” by MTKO reminds me of jamming on late nights with my friends. To me its a symbol of good times and unstoppable laughs. The song “Everything” by Michael Buble reminds me of my sister and dancing around our kitchen. The song “The Good Stuff” by Kenney Chesney reminds me of driving down town in the sunset. So many songs take me back to different places, ignite emotions within me, or remind me of certain people.

Since music has such an emotional affect on us, it has been extensively researched. While advertisers and large companies have used music to increase revenue, doctors and medical professionals have also found benefits by utilizing music in medicinal practices. Research has shown that by using calm and slow tempo music, heart rates and blood pressure can be lowered. There have been studies in regard to what music should be playing in the background during medical appointments, dentist have taken special interest in this topic. The Mozart effect that classical music is though to have on children may not necessarily make and individual smarter, but it most certainly has an intense effect even on the emotions of infants. Music and medicine is an extensively growing topic and has potential to become an important element within medical practices


Medicinal Tunes

Music is a way of life for humans. Culturally, we love music. Different cultures have different themes of music. From simple rhythm to country rock, people have always congregated to listen in. Studying differing cultures’ musics is called ethnomusicology. Ethnomusicology can explain peoples’ love for their own type of music. Finding one’s place in music means that they feel comfortable in their own mind while listening. People have used music to express opinions and feelings. Many people have used music to find their own place in challenging others. Professor Miller talked about this in his Ethnomusicology lecture. The Beethoven-Bonaparte example emphasized how music could be used to challenge authority, which was Beethoven’s "place."

Music can also be used medicinally. Slow and classical music relieves stress, and can have beneficial effects, such as slowing down the heart rate. Music has been used to calm down patients before and after surgery, relieve depression, and reduces emotional stress. ( Music can help patients, and in a safe, cheap way. I believe that music should be used wildly as a kind of therapy. It is easy, relaxing, and natural.

Source: Collingwood, J. (2007). The Power of Music To Reduce Stress. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 21, 2014, from

Music and Medicine

One of the most powerful ways to connect to a place is through the emotions one feels when listening to music. Often times a certain song will make a person go to a place in his or her mind because the song was significant to that person at a certain place in time. For example, the song Yellow by Coldplay makes me think of my dad driving me home from soccer practices when I was younger. Any Kenny Chesney song reminds me of cruising on the boat during the summer. A specific Jack Johnson CD takes my mind back to the week I spent in Disney World when I was seven because that’s the CD that was playing in the car that week. I could list tons of songs or artists that remind me of very specific moments in my life because music is a very powerful way to take someone to a place in his or her mind. Music is also very important to a person’s emotions and can even alter one’s emotions. I listen to more upbeat music before a soccer game or tennis match in order to put myself in the right mindset before the match. I listen to country music while hanging out on the lake with friends or family because the music is relaxing as well as the setting. Music can easily impact a person’s emotions because it often times takes people to a certain place in their mind.
Music therapy is becoming a more common way to help patients cope with pain or stress. Music therapy is more than just listening to music; patients make music, discuss song lyrics, and even write their own music. Research as shown that music can help someone feel less pain and reduce stress levels. Specifically in cancer patients, music can help reduce vomiting and nausea which results from chemotherapy. Research has also shown that music therapy can reduce other health problems such as high blood pressure and depression. Music can help patients both physically and mentally. Music therapy is an effective way of treating patients because patients can learn to cope with their pain without having to solely rely on medicine.


Music’s Medicinal Qualities

Music can be as helpful for identifying with a place as any memory can be. Certain sounds are associated with different places and that is as significant a part of those places as any memory, smell, taste, or other sensory perception. In a more figurative sense, however, music can also take on a descriptive role, and can be paired with a place to portray the state of that place. For instance, a brook can be paired with a slow, mellow song, while a stormy ocean can be paired with violent, loud music.

In medicine, music can be used to relax patients in pain or in distress. Patients can be worried or stressed and music helps to relax them and put them in a more comfortable and agreeable state, making it easier for doctors to treat them.

Music and Medicine

Music can play a very important role in understanding/knowing a place. For me personally, music helps put me in a mindset. I listen to fast beat music to get me focused before baseball games and slow music when I study or try to sleep. It helps dictate my emotions and as a result helps me become more aware/attached to the place I am in.

Music is beginning to play a roll in medicine. It is used in waiting rooms to reduce patients’ stress and some researchers are beginning to believe that the vibrations from the music help healing. I personally believe that music can help heal a person. It is a very interesting subject that hopefully more doctors can begin to utilize.


The two M’s: Music and Medicine

The healing power of music in medicine is undeniable. In 2009, researchers led by Lauren K. King of the Sun Life Financial Movement Disorders Research and Rehabilitation Centre at Wilfrid Laurier University, in Waterloo, Ontario, found that short-term use of vibroacoustic (which basically is music) therapy with Parkinson’s disease patients led to improvements in symptoms, including less rigidity and better walking speed with bigger steps and reduced tremors (NeuroRehabilitation, December, 2009). Also, in a meta-analysis of 400 studies, Levitin and his postgraduate research fellow, Mona Lisa Chanda, PhD, found that music improves the body’s immune system function and reduces stress. Listening to music was also found to be more effective than prescription drugs in reducing anxiety before surgery (Trends in Cognitive Sciences, April, 2013). Music has been found to help during surgery, boost heart health, soothe pain and even help memory!


Evidently, good music has such a magical, fabulously wonderful and postive effect. It has the power to change mood and feelings totally. But "Why?" we may ask ourselves. In a sense, I think the answer lies not only in the sweet, melodious sounds and rhythms we hear and the science behind this effect, but in how the song originated, what was in the mind of the singer, and what influenced the singer to compose the song. Many historians have used song lyrics to understand the culture and consciousness of the people who sang and listened to them. Especially when considering people who left written accounts of their lives, song lyrics can give important clues about what people thought and felt, their life struggles and their dreams about the future.
In supporting this, I would take an example from the songs of a famous Nigerian singer and composer, Fela Kuti. A pioneer of Afrobeat genre, Fela was a human rights activist as well as a political maverick. Many of his songs were direct attacks against Nigeria’s corrupt and oppressive dictatorships, specifically the militaristic governments of Nigeria in the 1970s and 1980s. A staunch advocate for peace, unity and equality, Fela’s hope was for a better country.

Study these song lyrics for the stories they tell about the past

Today, when I listen to his songs, I feel an immediate connection to what life was like then for people. Even though that was decades ago, his music has created an awareness and has made me understand what happened during that time. Music, therefore is extremely helpful in knowing and better understanding of a place.

Hawaii ’78

Music is essential to our lives in helping us to establish connections to place, especially in regards to Hawaiian culture. While music is often an essential part in tradition and culture, in my life, it is more evident in my Hawaiian culture than anything else. In ancient Hawaii, music and chants, along with hula dancing, told stories of the creation of the islands, of the gods, and of their ancestors. This allowed for culture and history to be passed down all the way to those who dance hula today. In this particular way, learning the music of the ancient Hawaiians allows for people who visit, as well as those who live in Hawaii, to better understand the lives of the ancient Hawaiians. Even with modern Hawaiian music, the ideology of the ancient Hawaiians comes through, especially in the songs by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. In his song Hawaii ’78 he describes how the ancient Hawaiians would be disappointed in how their way of life was lost and how their sacred grounds were destroyed for the modern civilization. This song in particular connects me to the culture of Hawaii because it not only incorporates the ancient views but also the modern struggles that people experience in Hawaii.

On the other hang, music can play a large role in medicine, especially in Music Therapy. The American Music Therapy Association defines music therapy as "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." In other words, it is treating patients using music. Music therapy is common in psychology in helping to increase a patients self-esteem and decrease negative feelings. In an article by Rick Nauert PhD, he discusses the importance of music therapy in improving mood ( Over all, it has been found to be beneficial for most patients as well as lasting longer than other therapeutic strategies. I feel that music therapy would be beneficial for a wide range of psych patients as it would allow for easy accessibility and is relatively inexpensive in comparison to other treatments.

How Music Can Heal

The feeling of being truly connected to a place involves all of one’s senses. Of the five senses, hearing can play a particularly important role in connecting to a certain place. When I was little, my father would play his guitar for me as I fell asleep in my room. To this day, when ever I hear the song that he used to play I go back to my old bedroom in my head and I actually start to feel sleepy. Just as the smell of the perfume your mom wears can bring you back to sitting in her lap when you were young, the sound of your "senior song" can bring you back to the arena of your high school graduation. The lyrics and melodies of certain songs are stored in your memory with the images of your specials places.

On the subject of memory, music can actually be used to "renew lives lost to dementia" (Music and Memory). According to the non-profit organization, music & memory’s, website, "favorite music or songs associated with important personal events can trigger memory of lyrics and the experience connected to the music. Beloved music often calms chaotic brain activity and enables the listener to focus on the present moment and regain a connection to others" (Music and Memory). I found this organization to be very interesting to research. If I listen to music while I study for tests I can retain the information for the test more easily. Because of this phenomenon, I can easily see how music could also help dementia patients retain and retrieve memories more easily.
Music has also been proved to decrease pain and stress: "university of Alberta researchers found that patients who listened to relaxing music while getting an IV inserted reported significantly less pain, and some demonstrated significantly less distress, compared with patients who did not listen to music" (Novotney). I, personally, have never experienced the power of music to soothe physical pain. But, whenever I am especially stressed out and I just lay down and listen to soothing music, I can definitely feel my tensions relax.

While I don’t fully understand the scientific reason why music works so powerfully in the human brain, I am very interested in the ways that music can change a person’s life. Whether you listen to music to bring back memories of your favorite place, or to try to heal your deep depression, it is clear that music has extreme powers to heal and help people.

Works Cited
"Music and Memory." Music and Memory. Music & Memory, 2014. Web. 19 Aug. 2014.
Novotney, Amy. "Music as Medicine." Http:// American Psychological Association, Nov. 2013. Web. 20 Aug. 2014.