I have often been asked, “Why do we play music during your radio interviews?” This week two new articles appeared that reminded me again of this question. The first informed us that, “The rhythms of certain parts of renowned (Beethoven) works may in fact reflect the irregular rhythms of Beethoven’s own heart caused by cardiac arrhythmia. ‘His music may have been both figuratively and physically heartfelt,’ says co-author Joel Howell, M.D., Ph. D, a professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School and member of the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation” writing in an essay that appears in Perspectives in Biology and Medicine. 1
Music by the Heart
Imagine, writing music to your own heartbeat. When you think about it, that’s not all that hard to imagine. Music has this incredible ability to lift the mood, to prepare us for terror, to make us feel sad, and so much more. Music seems to literally pull on our heartstrings.
Now I mentioned that there were two new articles this week. The second says it all in the title, The Integration of Classical Music Composition Theory In the Facilitation of Expanded Trust, Appreciation, and Utilization of Opposites in Treatment by Bruce Gregory, Ph. D. Yes, that’s right, in this scholarly article published in Annals of Psychotherapy, Gregory makes a very good case for why music should be integrated into health care. 2
Well every week we ask our guests for up to three musical selections that have real meaning to them. We usually play a portion of the chosen music following brakes and give our guests the opportunity to share just how this music has influenced them—and why it is important to them. I typically introduce this idea during the radio show as another means to learn something more about our guests.
We have found dissonance in some guests, based on their musical choices. For example, someone who preaches oneness, peace, balance and harmony who chooses music with lyrics such as that found in the song, You Done Me Wrong, is not exactly walking their talk. Indeed, we have even had guests deny choosing the music their office sent us once they learned how we interpreted their choices. I mean, what’s tough about understanding that three of your most important pieces of music make a statement about you, albeit often a form of self-disclosure some don’t really think through.
Now, as far as I’m concerned, I like it when a guest is spontaneous with their musical selections and then realizes why we asked. In this way, we truly do get a sort of Rorschach insight into our guests’ innermost being, a glimpse of some portion of their subconscious associations. We have had at least one guest who indicated there wasn’t any music they liked. That too says something important.
Many people fail to realize just how important music is to all of us. Music is one of the few activities that involve using our whole brain—both hemispheres simultaneously. The evidence clearly shows that music has healing powers, can lower blood pressure, strengthen the immunes system, can provide relief from pain, is good for the heart, increases the speed of recovery from strokes, is a great headache cure, possesses anti-seizure properties, enhances intelligence and memory, is a great fatigue fighter and improves performance—cognitive as well as physical performance. Obviously music is important—so important that we also know how powerful it can be in restoring memories and cognitive abilities where diminished faculties such as with Alzheimer and dementia patients. 3
In a headline on Medline, we read, Music Therapy Brings Dementia Patients ‘Back to Life’. The article goes on to inform us of the restorative nature music holds. Quoting:
The surprising popularity of a 6-minute video uploaded to YouTube last spring is bringing enthusiastic attention to music therapy programs as a possible way to improve symptoms in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and dementia.
A program known as Music and Memory was created by former social worker Dan Cohen as a way to “awaken” memories in these patients through the use of personalized music selections played on mp3 players. A documentary about him and the program, entitled Alive Inside, is currently in production; it is a video clip from this documentary that garnered unbelievable attention. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyZQf0p73QM)
With more than 6 million views, the clip features Henry, an elderly man with dementia who is first shown slumped over in his chair, barely acknowledging those around him. But after headphones are slipped on him, he instantly lights up and becomes more animated, even humming along with the music. More dramatically, after the headphones are taken off, he is shown being able to answer questions and even sings snippets of his favorite songs. 4
What Music Would You Have a Loved One PLay
Think about that for a moment. What music is it that you would have a loved one play for you that could restore cognitive abilities if that was ever needed? This is the sort of thing we might discover when we ask folks for their most important three pieces of music. We are after the music that strikes the beat of life within each of us, that is so full of life itself that almost magically, the sound of it restores the life that has been lost.
So, if you wondered, now you know why we ask for those three pieces of music and why we weave them into our interviews. Be sure to tune in to Provocative Enlightenment Radio, airing on many stations around the world. (http://www.provocativeenlightenment.com/)
Thanks for the read and as always, I truly appreciate your comments and feedback.
NY Time Bestselling Author of Choices and Illusions
1 Daily, S. (2015). Was Beethoven’s music literally heartfelt?, Science Daily.
2 Gregory, B. (2015). The Integration of Classical Music Composition Theory
In the Facilitation of Expanded Trust, Appreciation, and
Utilization of Opposites in Treatment. Annals of American Psychotherapy, Annals of American Psychotherapy. January, 2015.
3 eMedExpert (August, 2014). How Music Affects Us and Promotes Health. eMedExpert. eMedExpert, eMedExpert.
4 Brauser, D. (2012). Music Therapy Brings Dementia Patients ‘Back to Life. Medscape Multispecialty