Music Therapy

Richard J. Falcon Jr.

Instrumental music

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Music Therapy


Richard J. Falcon Jr.

Great Articles for Music Therapy!

Music and agitation

Music is a powerful tool for maintaining and restoring health; it can be used to induce relaxation, alter moods, and create distraction (Aldridge, 2000; Aldridge & Aldridge, 1992) and has been used successfully to reduce agitation in dining settings (Hicks-Moore, 2005). While Kramer suggests that nurses have a responsibility to understand and use music in their practice (Kramer, 2001), perhaps we could extend that to say that nurses need to understand the sound environment in which they work.

Relaxing music buffers the general noise level typically found in dining rooms of nursing homes, exerts a calming effect, and reduces agitated behaviors among residents with severe cognitive impairment. Significant reductions are observed on the cumulative incidence of total agitated behaviors (63.4%); as well as the cumulative incidence of physically nonaggressive behaviors (56.3%) and verbally agitated behaviors (74.5%) (Goddaer & Abraham, 1994).

In a study of people in a nursing home ward, dinner music was played during three periods of 2 weeks. The residents were particularly affected by soothing music from the 1920's and 1930's. Residents spent more time at dinner when music was played. and eat more calmly (Ragneskog, Kihlgren, Karlsson, & Norberg, 1996). A calm atmosphere and a slow pace are important strategies to control agitation. One way to achieve this is through fixed routines. Music calms individual agitated patients and provides a flexible structure in time in which people can orientate themselves. Uncontrolled sounds can cause agitation in residents and stress in the nursing staff (Ragneskog & Kihlgren, 1997) (Ragneskog, Brane, Karlsson, & Kihlgren, 1996).

The word "music" covers a broad range of possibilities and it is necessary to fit the music to the listener. Individualised music interventions are preferable to generalised interventions (Gerdner, 2000). When music was administered daily and as needed to eight elderly individuals with dementia who resided in a long-term care facility there was a significant reduction in agitation during the presentation of music and an overall reduction in agitation was found on day shift during weeks 1 to 8 and on evening shift during weeks 5 to 8. Music also promoted a meaningful interaction between the resident and others. (Gerdner, 2005) ((c) 2007


     Psychology in music has been around for a long time. The study itself holds theories that can’t be explained in the scientific world. In the time of Beethoven, it was forbid for young women to listen to his music. The instrumentals alone caused young women to become promiscuous. Years later Social Workers and Psychologist are using music for their patients as a form of music therapy.

     As a musician and a theorist I have studied a system that was developed before Bach’s time. Church modes were created to have scales within scales. Church modes also created moods in music. Musicians were able to use melody as well as movement to create a mood in music. Since that time every music lover has wondered why when playing a minor scale it makes you feel sad, or in a “blue” mood. Why when playing a major scale one feels uplifting or happy. Of course in that time it was believed that music was a gift from God and should only be used in praising God. Music was also feared that it could become too powerful, too influenced.

     Mozart Effect: Everyone had heard of the Mozart effect. Music so greatly written that it can enhance intelligence. For most people that is a hard concept. Everyday there are studies to try to prove the theory that "listening to Mozart will make you smarter". In a study with unborn children, scientist questioned if listening to Mozart would make your unborn child smarter. We know that the first sense that a fetus develops is hearing. We also believe that is why he knows who his mother is. If a fetus develops hearing and is able to hear melodies in music, wouldn’t that cause his brain activity to try and follow melody?  

     Bach vs.. Madonna: Music is believed to be very powerful! It has created and changed the way we think, live and even our morals on life. A question that was asked to musicians is why is it easier to listen to Madonna that it is to Bach? The answer is that Madonna and most mainstream artist use a repeated, three or more note melody to keep us “hooked”. If you hear the same three notes over and over you can grasp the melody. Bach however, very seldom repeats the same melody, which causes it harder to grasp the melody. How influential is music? Elvis is blamed for the end of innocents in our culture. Hip Hop is blamed for all of our street violence and Madonna is blames for our over sexual stimulated society. I am not casting blame by no means, what I am saying is music is very powerful!

     In several placements around the state people have been using my music to calm “problematic” children down. The first time I witness this was a school graduation I performed. The school was a behavior disorder school of students that could not function in a normal school setting. This was a social event, which, had the staff mesmerized when all of the students acted polite, behaved and socially accepted. I believed a lot of factors came into play. One the music was soft and instrumental by me. Two, the occasion called for formal wear among the students and staff, this creating an atmosphere for the students to behave. What would happen if they went with a Death Metal D. J?

     Now the music I write is used to de-escalate children and to teach children how calm down. The program uses both CD’s “Moon Dance” and “Send Angels” and they pick slow tempo songs. The children are asked to breath to the music. Feel the energy from the music and let the music take over your mind, heart and soul. The staff states that it really works and hopefully teaches the students how to calm down using the right type of music. Another program uses it in their day care, soft melodic music while children eat or rest. This helps in calming the children down and helping the staff. Realize of course that the music has to be a slow tempo and an easy melody. Some of my songs with faster tempo’s and aggressive melodic movements would not work as well. Those faster songs are for when you are cleaning house. How many of us need “techno” music to clean house!

     School teachers and day cares have now ordered the CDs for their classrooms. Teacher believe that it creates a smoothing background the keeps the classroom calm and manageable. Most of the students report that they enjoy the music. 

    So in closing understand the power of music. I believe it is very powerful and we as artist are responsible for that power. However, if my music causes two people to fall in love then I will take full responsibility. If it causes you take break up then that was your fault. Music is a gift to us to help us through this crazy world of ours. Explore melodic music. Understand that instrumentals also have words; the problem is can you hear what the instruments are saying without saying it?



Richard J. Falcon Jr.


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