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What is music therapy?

"Music is indeed the middle between the life of the senses and the life of the spirit."
(Ludwig van Beethoven)

Music therapy is a therapy that uses harmonious sound influences. Music therapy has been known since antiquity when it was used to revive those depressed and to encourage those who went to battle. Scientific studies in the field have shown that music alters brain waves and heart rate. It is known in the world's traditions as part of a magical field of activities.
Music is a wonder of the world because it awakens the spirit of freedom, consciousness, removes pessimism and melancholy, improves the quality of sleep and creativity, reducing stress and depression.
Music therapy can have a powerful effect against pain and fatigue because it stimulates the release of endorphins, the so-called hormones of happiness. Patients can choose between passive therapy, which involves simply listening to songs, and the active one, during which they are put to various instruments.
With the help of music therapy, hidden aggression, mental or affective disorders, certain blockages, and some psychosomatic diseases such as asthma or eating problems can be treated.

Treatment of various diseases by music therapy:

- to calm the nervous system: Concerto no. 5 for the piano and the orchestra by Beethoven and the Overture of Parsifal by Wagner.
- for psychic relaxation and relaxation: Sonata for flute, alto and harp and Clear of the Moon by Debussy, Chopin's Nocturnals.
- to combat fatigue and surfeit: The symphonic poem Vltava of Smetana and Morning of Grieg.
- to treat depressive states: Dvorak Carnival.
- for the calming of the agitating states: The Ode to Joy of Beethoven and the Wagner Pilgrim's Choir.
- for treating asthenic neurosis and vegetative disorders: Small serenade and Symphony no. 41 by Mozart.
- for the relief of the great suffering that follows tragic events: Cello Concerto by Dvorak and Patetica of Tchaikovsky.

The comparative history of music and medicine is of great wealth, revealing a true unity of musical and medical thinking, their origins are those of humanity themselves, and their evolution is limited to the evolution of human spirituality. Both are at the center of any civilization and always related to human activity.

Documents on the use of healing music come from ancient Egypt and later from Jews, Greeks, Romans, and Arabs. The Greek physicians advised the sick to walk or stay for a long time in pleasant places, especially on the shores of the water or in the woods, and listen to music, the most valued instruments for improving the evolution of diseases were the flute and the pound. It is itself a form of medicine, which has the role of "giving" the body and the human psyche with the macrocosmic rhythms.
At the beginning of our millennium, music therapy was so much appreciated and demanded that the famous schools of medicine in Salerno, Padova, and Montpellier were forced to introduce it into the curricula of future doctors.

Music therapy is a powerful therapy that can create a good mood, physically reconfigure, and, in particular, mentally, it has as its main objective to reduce anxiety, to remove inhibitions, to help reorganize inner life, music being an important factor in harmonizing and animating the human being.

Music therapy currently extends its area of action, being considered as a complementary treatment method, the results of which join other natural methods that help to restore health.

Following research by various scientific conferences, it has been found that music acts on the human body on three major plans:
- muscles, nerves and blood vessels;
- mental;
- vegetative nervous system.

On muscles, nerves and blood vessels, music acts through the sound, which is the same in all the variety of musical forms, whether it is the vibrations of a diapason, the violins of an instrumentist's violin, whether we are dealing with an orchestrated. Musical sound acts on muscles producing energy, especially when it is rhythm.
In terms of nerves, musical sound leads to a dilation of the nourishing arteriole and an increase in its potency; the same effects have been observed on the brain and intellectual activities, as the introduction of music in some institutions has considerably improved overall work and even inter-human relationships.

Detailed studies conducted in the US, England, and Japan on the role of music to stimulate production activity have led to extremely important conclusions, namely:

- the use of functional music leads to increased work productivity and reduced absences from work;
- the rhythmic music is particularly appreciated by the younger segment of the population, both sexes, having a beneficial and stimulating action on it;
older people prefer classical, calm, less rhythmic music;
- the use of a certain type of music depends on the education and training of staff in this field, as well as on the workplace where music therapy is applied.

The healing effects of music find its origin in its influence on the psyche and through it on the whole body, as any organic affection occurs or worsens because of the presence of a psych disorder.

Music therapy specialists make the following recommendations:
- the musical pieces with rhythmic dominance by stimulating sensory life and biological rhythm contribute to the dynamism of the body (dance music, Stravinski's music);
- melodic musical pieces stimulate romantic life (Beethoven's music, Schumann, Brahms);
- musical pieces with harmonic dominance stimulate intellectual life and thinking (Mozart, Vivaldi, Bach).

The effects of music on the human body depend to a large extent on the following factors:
- musicality, the degree of musical culture and temperament of each individual;
- tone: high, sharp sounds are exciting, while the low, serious are soothing and tranquilizing;
- tempo: a fast, alert tempo animates and invigorates, while a slow one creates an atmosphere of calm, reverie and passivity;
- the type of instrument or instruments (in the case of an orchestra) in which a musical score is played.

In general, it is recommended that everyone listens to the music he or she likes best regardless of whether it is cultured, light or popular.
Even if we do not cure all of our affections but just disconnect, the quality of "medicine" of music is incontestable provided it is of quality, at a normal intensity and to suit our taste.

Indications of music therapy:
- Treating insomnia; it is recommended to use it together with aromatherapy and chromotherapy;
- Analgesic adjuvant by the psychological relaxation it produces (in the case of headaches, muscle spasms, neuralgia);
- In dentistry, in order to prevent anxiety and deepen the relaxation required in dental surgery;
- In the field of medical psychology;
- Treatment of physical fatigue and asthenic neurosis;
- Adjuvant in the treatment of arterial hypertension, bronchitis, respiratory diseases;
- Remedies of immune deficient, metabolic problems, purification, and removal of toxic products in the body.

Research in hospitals and nursing homes has shown that music, especially classical, can be a good "drug." Verdi or Liszt works are recommended in cases of anxiety and prolonged depression.
Music therapy has as its main objective to reduce anxiety, to remove inhibitions, to tone up, to help reorganize inner life, to restore or improve communication.

In music therapy cabinets, the method is only applied after preliminary tests on the culture and musical preferences of the patients, and the musical pieces are chosen according to the affections and test results.
The interpretation of several musical pieces by several people (chorus, orchestras) is a very useful social factor for isolated patients who find their way into the community, which is active music therapy. It is an important means of medical recovery, developing focus, attention, and discipline.
The scientific use of psycho-music techniques involves the realization of a therapeutical team, rigorously selected from neurological and neurophysiological, psychological, psychiatric and musical aspects.
Ms. Edith Lecourt, professor of psychology at the Louis Pasteur University of Strasbourg, secretary general of the French Music Therapy Association, mentioned in an interview several aspects of patient interaction - music therapy, namely:
"Music therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses sound and music in all its forms as a means of expression, communication, structuring and analysis of relationships, is practiced in groups or individually, addresses both children and adults; psycho-music techniques are numerous, very often music is present as a sound background, but also as an adjunct in relaxing sessions, during massages, as an incentive for bioenergy or in psycho-muscular relaxation "

As far as the pedagogical role of music therapy is concerned, the prevention of pathological manifestations was achieved by introducing music into schools and choirs in different communities.
Currently, music therapy is understood as a set of psychotherapeutic methods involving the active participation of the patient by using the sound-human complex for diagnostic and treatment purposes. It is, on the one hand, a form of art therapy, on the other hand, a scientific technique based on discoveries in psychology, neurophysiology, electroacoustics. All somatic disorders with psychological interference can benefit from music therapy and, in particular, psychosomatic ones; music can adjust pulse frequency, lower blood pressure, and improve peripheral irrigation.

Most authors admit that there are two areas in music therapy:
- receptive music therapy based on musical audiences;
- active music therapy based on musical expression and creativity.

Their common goal is to provoke emotional reactions that offer us: well-being, tranquility, plenitude, comfort, joy, stimulation, dreaming. The human being needs music, but each one of us matches a certain kind of music that depends on our state of mind, the health of the body, and other personal factors.

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