I received an email from a listener to my YouTube channel this morning that gave me a direction for this article. Over the years I have had many people comment on the calming effects of the harp music that I offer on my channel: Calming Harp
This message was especially noteworthy as the contrast between “with the music” and “without the music” was so remarkable. It was also clear that there was no opportunity for conscious influence as the person was “not rousable.” The effects were purely physiological. I will share the email with you and then look at some research that helps explain this wonderful effect.
I wrote on your YouTube channel under David Harp and Psalms (almost 3 hours of harp music) back in June regarding how this really blessed my family when my father was dying. Prior to your music playing, my father was barely conscious and not rousable but very agitated. It was very distressing for everyone to watch. Almost immediately when I started playing your music he settled right down and became relaxed. Whilst the music played, he relaxed and when it stopped, he became agitated again. It was such a blessing that I was able to play your music for him so that it was peaceful at the end. I thank YHWH (God) for your music during this difficult time.”
Under this music – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFEvDDHLonE
I will take some information from an article published in Medical News Today: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/music-therapy
This article looks at the discipline of music therapy and the different ways it affects the mind and body of the listener. Music therapy is now being used in many different settings including mental health, Alzheimer’s units, senior care centers, nurseries, birthing centers – and many other applications.
In dealing with anxiety, the article states, “Many studies suggest that music therapy can reduce feelings of anxiety, including in people with cancer, those undergoing surgery, and individuals going into intensive care units. Some studies also suggest that music can reduce blood pressure and the heartbeat, which can have a direct impact on how stressed a person feels.
There is also evidence to suggest that those undergoing music therapy experience reduced anxiety immediately after the session, which indicates that music therapy could be a convenient way to reduce symptoms quickly.
Music affects the amount of stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, that the body releases, and reducing these hormones can help relieve symptoms of anxiety.”
It was also noted in the article that music therapy offers a non-verbal pathway to reach a person who may not be able to verbalize. The brain processes the sounds of the music without the need for verbal cues.
Quoting again, “The way that music affects the brain is very complex. All aspects of music — including pitch, tempo, and melody — are processed by different areas of the brain.
For instance, the cerebellum processes rhythm, the frontal lobes decode the emotional signals created by the music, and a small portion of the right temporal lobe helps understand pitch.
The reward center of the brain, called the nucleus accumbens, can even produce strong physical signs of pleasure, such as goosebumps when it hears powerful music.”
It is important to note that it does not necessarily require a Certified Music Therapist to achieve these benefits. If one is available, that is all the better. But many times, one is not available and that should not stop a family from using recorded music to realize some of these benefits. The family referred to in the email was using music that was available on the internet.
The key here is that there is a wonderful effect that music can offer in helping an agitated person to calm down. I even have people tell me frequently that they use it to calm their children down so they will go to sleep for a nap or keep them calmer during a road trip in the car.
Others tell me they use it for their pets. One person told me that as soon as the music started, their family dog went over by the speaker and laid down to go to sleep. Another testimony was of a woman who used my music while she milked her goats to keep them from kicking over the milk bucket.
Other articles I have written have shown that the rhythm of the music helps to “entrain” the heart into a slower pace and bring the blood pressure down. The slower pace helps the whole body and its functions to slow as well. My sister keeps a CD in her car that she calls her “go to CD” for whenever she feels herself ramping up with anxiety.
Next time you find yourself, or a family member or friend in need of slowing down, remember that music is a very effective way to slow down the rhythm and bring some sanity into an otherwise chaotic situation. Try it next time. You might be pleasantly surprised!