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We chose music...

Music, English playwright, William Congreve observed, “has charms to soothe a savage breast.”

Meanwhile cellist, Yo-Yo Ma once commented, “Healing? I think that is what music is all about. Don’t you?”
The Power of Music (Hanson, 2004)

Music has two advantages. Firstly, music can create community. Secondly, music has therapeutic value. Let us look at it in more detail.

Music can create community:

  • Music has great opportunities to promote general health and mental well-being (USA for Africa, 2006; VicHealth, 2005b; Williams, McCreanor, & Barnes, 2003). We know that social connection is important for health. Music provides an opportunity for many voices to be heard, not just a few, so that it is good for everyone’s mental health.
  • Music can reach people by way of expression of the values and concerns that are communicated powerfully across the world. The result is the sense of meaning, which is a crucial element in positive mental health (VicHealth, 2004a).
  • The Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) claims, “Have you ever listened to a song that rocked your world, read a book that changed you forever, seen a play or a film that made you walk out into a different world than the one you left behind just hours before? Most of us have. That’s why VicHealth’s investment in the arts is so powerful.
  • Not only does it work for the participants, transforming lives in ways that can only be beneficial to health, but it can also, when done well, affect the audience: potentially altering perceptions; increasing understanding and respect for other views; and, in the process, improving a community’s health” (VicHealth, 2004a).

Benefits of Music:

“...Music is the language of the spirit. It opens the secret of life, bringing peace, abolishing strife...”
-Kahil Gibran

  • Participants in community activities have better health outcomes than non-participants; especially those participants in creative activity who can develop supportive social networks, stronger communities, better health and increased well-being.
  • For young people, involvement in creative activity can improve academic achievement, school retention rates, self-esteem and reduced drug and alcohol consumption and juvenile offending (VicHealth, 2005a).
  • Community-based arts activity makes considerable contribution to community health (VicHealth, 2003). The results from the VicHealth’s Community Arts Participation Scheme showed positive achievements in health outcomes such as enhanced social connectedness, valuing diversity and freedom from discrimination and violence, and economic participation and meaningful engagement (Williams, McCreanor, & Barnes, 2003).
  • “Community Singing Across Victoria” in Australia and “Singing with Conviction” in New Zealand are committed to furthering and disseminating the evidence of the link between music and health (Arts Access Aotearoa, 2005; VicHealth, 2004b).
  • Music is a universal language across all cultural groups.
  • The power of music is its ability to bring diverse people together regardless of disability, ethnicity, age, gender, religion and political beliefs around a common interest and sense of purpose.
  • Music naturally reverberates, permeates, and goes through boundaries and walls. It calls to others, attracts, gathers, connects people together. It creates community. That is called, “ripple effect” (Pavlicevic & Ansdell, 2004).
  • Music is also culturally-appropriate, because music is the heart of the culture (VicHealth, 2004a).

Music has the power of community development and so is the power of mental health promotion. Therefore, music is an excellent tool to promote mental well-being of multicultural societies.
 

Music has Therapeutic Value:

Music has more than entertainment value:

  • Melding of music and medicine that have been conjoined since the Greek god Zeus appointed his son Apollo as god of both. Apollo was a gifted musician and taught humans the art of healing and bestowed the gift of prophecy on those mortals he loved (Sammon, 1997). Music has therapeutic value on both individuals and communities, especially in its creative component (Hanson, 2004; Turry, 2005). That is why, physicians have approached music as therapy for generations.
  • Music is the leading arts therapy discipline, because music can heal individuals and communities (Hanson, 2004). Music, an aural stimulant, can evoke psycho-physiological response (Kneafsey, 1997). Music can reduce agitation and situational anxiety. Music can create significant mood changes. Music can facilitate communication and mobility. Music unlocks both body and soul. Music creates a healing environment that encourages meaningful emotional expression, free from confines of language and words. Music creates an atmosphere of beauty, peace, and reverence for all participants in the therapeutic settings (Young-Mason, 2002). Its goal as therapy is the reduction of stress, pain, anxiety and isolation. Music can improve the wellbeing of people. Music is sometimes better than any medicine for those purposes. Stige (1998), the prominent author from the music therapy world, summarised as music is a social thing, it is interaction, communication and community (Stige, 1998). The most recent progress in the music therapy is “community music therapy”, which extends the practice of music therapists well beyond the confines of therapy rooms. The community music therapy seems to be very promising for mental health promotion.
  • Music is also used in workplaces to promote mental well-being and to improve productivity. Big corporations such as the oil giant BP and leading law firm Lovells pay for special singing workshops for their staff (Hanson, 2004). So, music has the power of healing and the power of community development.
     

The Power of Music:

The Power of Healing:

  • “It makes sense. If you’re part of a singing group you’re connecting with other people, you feel a sense of achievement and most importantly, you’re having fun. Every neighbourhood should have a singing group”
    Rob Moodie, VicHealth Chief Executive Officer and singer (VicHealth, 2004b)
  • A United Kingdom study of members of a university college choral society found that participants had benefited socially and emotionally by being involved in the choir. A second study found six dimensions of benefit associated with singing such as better wellbeing and relaxation, improved breathing and posture, social, spiritual and emotional benefits and boosts to both the heart and the immune system (VicHealth, 2004b).
  • In summary, music has the power of healing, the power of community development and the power of mental health promotion. Therefore, we chose music to promote mental health.

References:

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Last Updated 20/06/2008

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