When William Shakespeare wrote this famous line ‘If music be the food of love, play on, Give me excess of it,’ he probably didn’t factor other possible uses of music.
Then came Lionel Richie with his monstrous hit ‘All night long… let the music play on,’ and that kind of redefined the way music is seen on other spheres of life.
Over the years, Nigerian artistes have inundated us with various genres of music and gifted us with new words or rebrand previously known words. The list is extensive; from ‘skelewu’, to ‘bank alert’, ‘assurance’, ‘shaku-shaku’ and the likes, have been variously explored.
While some songs compel aggressive dance steps, others just elicit head nodding or leg tapping maneuvers but all the same, they go to show that music has a lot of power to move one anyhow.
Music, one way or the other, generates emotions. Lately, too, one Nigerian Senator has been in the news for musical reasons.
The human brain has different pathways for processing different parts of music like the pitch, melody, rhythm, and tempo. While fast music can increase the heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure, slower music tends to have the opposite effect.
When one hears the music he or she likes, the brain releases a chemical called dopamine that has positive effects on the mood. It is therefore not surprising that music can invoke strong emotions such as joy, sadness, or even fear.
Music is now steadily and surely waltzing its way into medicine as a form of therapy. Music therapy is the use of music to address physical, psychological, cognitive and/or social problems in patients.
Music therapy does not replace medications but it is used together with them to enhance their effects. The therapy works at changing moods and creating a feeling of support for the patient. This, music does by connecting the patient with pleasant memories, associations, and thoughts.
Listening to music has been known to benefit overall well-being, help regulate emotions, and create happiness and relaxation in everyday life. It is stress-relieving especially the slow tempo instrumentals with no lyrics. Currently in some hospitals, this type of music is played in the operating theatre during long and extensive surgeries.
In studies of people with cancer, listening to music combined with standard care reduced anxiety compared to those who received standard care alone. Music also enhances aerobic exercises, boosts mental and physical stimulation, and increase overall performance.
Music also helps boost the immune system, partly because it de-stresses people. In addition, classical music has recently been used increasingly in the management of epilepsy and some other brain pathologies. Music by Mozart’s is the most beneficial in this sphere.
Music therapy has further been used to help enhance communication, coping and management of feelings such as fear, loneliness, and anger in patients who have a serious or terminal illness, and who are in end-of-life care.
Studies of children with autism spectrum disorder who received music therapy showed improvement in social responses, communication skills, and attention skills.
Even in the care of premature babies, music has been quite helpful. Just one hour of music every day help babies eat more, sleep more and gain more weight. It is now becoming standard procedure in some hospitals to help premature babies grow and music goes a long way to aid this.
When next you hear music, any kind of music at that, think again. It’s not just pleasant noise; it could be used for treatment purposes.