That moment when a tune becomes music therapy.
Whenever I hear somebody sing “Puttin’ on the Ritz” I vividly remember how this song was like music therapy for me a couple of years ago. I can actually feel the emotion of that evening when I was completely lost in sadness until I heard the music. Then my mood changed instantly.
Back then I was just happy to be in a restaurant where a great band was performing. Now I find it fascinating how a few moments of listening to music made me forget about my worries and completely enjoy the evening.
Humans Are Designed to Positively React to Music
Imagine yourself after a long day at work, having your favorite meal with the people you love.
Now imagine that again, but this time add live music to the picture. Though you’re with the same people, eating the same meal, it’s a much different experience, isn’t it?
Music is emotion, and both the musician and the listener can feel it. It’s everywhere, in every culture and in every corner of the world.
Music has enriched our existence since prehistory, though our ancestors may not have known beautiful sounds relaxed their minds and boosted their creativity. However, they surely understood it filled their souls with intense feelings and brought them closer to each other. Their lives were touched by music therapy, and they didn’t even know it.
Music Stimulates Our Minds and Fuels Our Creativity
In a way, I learned about the importance of music when I was three years old. Of course, at that time, I thought my grandparents and mother were singing just to entertain me. At that age, after all, being entertained is immensely important. How was I supposed to know they were using music as a tool for memorization? Now I know why I still sing the alphabet song!
Babies are influenced by voices and sounds even before birth. It is interesting how one form of art plays such an important role throughout life, fueling our minds and creativity and making an incredible impact on our existence.
The Emotional Art That Gives Soul to the Universe
Music is an expression of emotion felt by both the musician and the listener. Just as Orpheus’s chords could make stones dance, the magic energy of music makes our hearts beat in a happy rhythm even if our minds may be weary from everyday worries. Turn on your favorite holiday song or your wedding song, for example, and potent feelings and memories will come alive.
When I listen to “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” I have a strange but thrilling “going back in time” feeling. Your time-traveling songs and feelings are completely different from mine, but do you have tunes that do the same for you?
Bringing People Together through Universal Language
Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images
I recently learned how powerfully music can bring people together. Moving to Tenerife gave me the chance to experience the famous annual Carnival of Santa Cruz. Considered the second most popular Carnival after the one in Rio, it gathers thousands of people from all Canary Islands and all over the world. They gather in Santa Cruz to sing and dance for more than a week.
Though I was aware of the effects music had on people, nothing compared to being in the middle of thousands of people of all ages from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds who just wanted to dance, laugh and forget about worries, differences, material riches or poverty.
Yes, concerts and music festivals offer an incredible mixture of emotions that can fuel all empathic people like myself. But this was different. There wasn’t a “type” of people and definitely no limited age range. Absolutely everybody, from the youngest to the oldest, was dragged out of the house by the positive vibe, the happy atmosphere and, of course, the loud, engaging music.
Without music, would there be a Carnival? I have a pretty rich imagination, but I can’t imagine people partying without music. Would you want to go to that Carnival?
Music Therapy Is Like Medicine
Our physical state is easily affected by our mental state. Music therapy can heal both mental and physical fatigues, just as a good massage has the power to relax our minds by unwinding our muscles.
Listening to Bob Marley may not instantly make everything all right in your life, but it has been demonstrated that soft music can make sick people calmer and respond positively to treatment. I know someone who tried music therapy, and it helped a lot with reducing insomnia and depression.
Music therapy makes the brain release a feel-good chemical called dopamine, which affects both motivation and addiction and is important in functions like movement and memory. This is how “miracles” happen when music therapy is used to treat elderly people who have movement or memory issues. The songs that were special to them can bring awareness, enabling them to move and talk even though they may typically spend hours and even days without responding to anything or anybody. Music therapy can revive people who are sick or who have lost their hope.
What Would Life Be without Music?
As you can see, music is not only an art that pleases our ears and makes us move our bodies. Like many forms of art, it brings joy to our lives and crucial benefits to the way we develop as individual human beings and as a community.
Music therapy enhances our existence from before we are born, turning what could be a dull, empty life into an emotional journey. It transforms the fight for survival into an exhilarating form of art.
Imagine spending every day of your life without any kind of music — with no holiday tunes, no birthday songs, no wedding music.
Imagine a life without dancing, without proms, with no clubs or pubs, without concerts or festivals.
Can you picture that? A life with no memory of Mozart, Freddy Mercury, John Lennon or Bob Dylan…
Just close your eyes, imagine an uncommonly quiet life, and correct me if I’m wrong when I say a world without music would be a world missing an essential part of our culture and humanity.