My-My-My-My Sharona – The Healing Power of Music

Music is a big part of my life; it motivates me, comforts me, angers me, and loves me. There are times it is like the artist is singing directly to me. I had the privilege of meeting many artists throughout my life, including producing concerts for hundreds of bands and managing two artists. I have produced shows for everyone from Billy Currington to Toby Keith and Night Ranger to Three Dog Night and Grand Funk Railroad. And yes, I had to throw sweet sweet Connie out of a backstage meet and greet. I have loved every one of them. Each one of them gave me a different perspective on music. It is one part of my life that I miss very much. I have some pretty entertaining stories from some of these bands.

I am a lapsed musician myself, but recently I have started playing guitar and writing again. I have started taking some lessons from a guy from our church who got his degree in guitar. I find that music, playing, or listening is very cathartic. According to the American Psychological Association, while music has long been recognized as an effective form of therapy to provide an outlet for emotions, the notion of using song, sound frequencies, and rhythm to treat physical ailments is a relatively new domain, says psychologist Daniel J. Levitin, Ph.D., who studies the neuroscience of music at McGill University in Montreal. A wealth of new studies is touting the benefits of music on mental and physical health. For example, in a meta-analysis of 400 studies, Levitin and his postgraduate research fellow, Mona Lisa Chanda, Ph.D., 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).

“We’ve found compelling evidence that musical interventions can play a health-care role in settings ranging from operating rooms to family clinics,” says Levitin, author of the book “This Is Your Brain on Music” (Plume/Penguin, 2007). The analysis also points to just how music influences health. The researchers found that listening to and playing music increase the body’s production of the antibody immunoglobulin A and natural killer cells — the cells that attack invading viruses and boost the immune system’s effectiveness. Music also reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol.  

When I have suffered from significant stress or severe pain or bad days from Parkinson’s, I have found that listening to music has had a substantial impact on my symptoms. I love all kinds of music. There are very few kinds of music of which I don’t listen. When I was running every day, and when I was running half marathons, I always had to play music. It helped me keep my pace, which helped me ignore the pain from which I was suffering. I have found that the studies are accurate ad that it does reduce pain, reduces stress, and helps with emotional wellbeing. Let me encourage you to get a subscription to a music service like Google Play or Apple Music. They are relatively inexpensive but provide unlimited downloads of your favorite music. I have music for meditation, for exercise and even to help me sleep, 

My love of music started over three and a half decades ago when I was in the Birmingham Boys Choir. Our director, who is still the director today, introduced me to music from around the world. I sang the Hallelujah Chorus with the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and performed in the opera La Bohem. I attended the Royal School of Church Music and studied years of music theory. These developmental years, I believe, is what gave me my love of music. I don’t think I realized until I was much older the amazing healing qualities that music has. Why do you think many surgeons play music in the operating room? Studies have shown that it reduces the level of stress in the operating room and increases healing time for the patient. At a very early age, I tried to introduce my children to music. My oldest son played tuba and sousaphone through college, and my youngest son now sings in the Birmingham Boys Choir and wants to be a music teacher when he graduates college. According to Dr. Ibrahim Baltagi, It is proven that music has a role in brain development before birth. Listening to music during pregnancy will not only have a soothing and uplifting effect on the pregnant woman, but also a positive influence on the unborn baby.

Around 16─18 weeks of pregnancy, the little one hears its very first sound. By 24 weeks, the little ears start to develop rapidly, and babies have been shown to turn their heads in response to voices and noise in the last few months of pregnancy; an unborn baby can recognize her mother’s voice, her native language, word patterns, and rhymes.

So, the bottom line is, embrace music. It can provide a source of heeling that you don’t have to inject or swallow. If you are living with a chronic illness, why not try it. The worst-case scenario is you get some enjoyment out of listening to something new, but I think you will find that you get many more benefits from it than you thought you would. I also recommend making sure you download Shazam. When you here a song you like on a TV show or a movie, press the Shazam buttton and it immediately identifies the song and artist and adds it to your playlist. It’s a god way to get introduced to new artists. So go out and discover new music. Enjoy

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