"Prevent Holiday Stress: USE Music"
by Judith Pinkerton
Las Vegas Magazine, Las Vegas, Nevada
"The positive and invigorating effects of music . [make] me a true believer in . the unlimited possibilities of music's therapeutic use."
- Senator Harry Reid
As the holidays approach, how can you foster resiliency in your health to decrease stress or pain, lose the blues or increase energy? Music medicine is the way. At one time it was believed that only classical music could cure these maladies. Now there is a way that all types of music can improve health - including the music you love.
Today's music, in all its diverse styles, is used in health programs that provide benefits supported by clinical experience and research studies such as the following:
- Improve relationships, self-esteem and school grades.
- Reduce behavior problems.
- Increase endorphin levels that dull pain and produce a general feeling of well-being.
- Increase brain functioning and the positive effect of exercise when challenged with arthritis, Alzheimer's disease, stroke, cancer or cardiac conditions.
- Relieve overwhelming feelings of grief, anger, anxiety, depression or frustration.
- Decrease hospital stays and the need for anesthesia or pain relievers at the dentist office, during surgical procedures, or post-surgery.
- Heal emotional damage from the trauma of abuse.
- Reduce sleep problems and migraines.
Health care professionals, which include music therapists, can be valuable assistance to those in need. Music therapists are trained professionals who apply music with scientific application to achieve therapeutic goals. Music therapy helps restore physical balance and emotional resolution, and when used as an adjunct to other therapies, shortened lengths of treatment may be possible.
When music is used within a specific medicinal prescription, the healing potential is heightened. For instance, a single piece of music - Mozart is used to heal migraines or improve spatial reasoning - may increase effectiveness for more people when included within a music medicine prescription. According to The Sound of Healing: Create Your Own Music Program for Better Health (Pinkerton, Alliance Publishing, 1996), health is greatly improved when basic music medicine (a.k.a. music therapy) concepts are integrated within a prescription that uses the method of what to listen to first, next and last.
This innovative, easy MEE method, described in The Sound of Healing, touches emotions with Unsettling, Soothing and Energizing music to satiate and neutralize negative feelings such as sadness, anxiety or fear, and then it moves onto increase to peace and joy. The method recommends several pieces hooked together, one after the other, in a predetermined sequence. Hundreds of appropriate music selections for prescriptions are referenced in The Sound of Healing, which was hailed by Billboard Magazine: "This fascinating book. can be an invaluable resource."
Based upon music therapy concepts and medical research, music medicine goes far beyond choosing relaxation music to "soothe the savage breast" (yes, it is "breast", not "beast"!). The USE music method considers all of our moods and categorizes them as Unsettling, Soothing or Energizing. Medical and music therapy research cited in the book identifies our broad range of moods as a crucial physiological component. To deny anger, peace or joy compromises our health. Those denials, or repressed emotions, may create dysfunction in our lives, producing dis-ease that may be experienced in all facets of our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. USEing music daily in a new way may relieve dis-ease and disease.
Notice how you match music to you mood.
Notice what music you listen to when you're angry or stressed. You may instinctively choose the right piece as you listen to music in a new way: knowing what to listen to first, next and last. For instance, it may not be right for you to listen first to soothing music when you're really agitated.
Why not? Well, that's very interesting: The music you choose and the order you listen to it becomes a health program, or music prescription for you. When you're angry or unsettled, put on music that makes you feel angry for at least three minutes. But don't allow yourself to stay there. Listen immediately to the next piece of music from the Soothing category, also at least three minutes, to neutralize the anger. And, if you don't want to stay relaxed or fall asleep, listen to the final mood/music category of Energizing for another minimum of three minutes. Moving through these three mood/music categories sets up cathartic release to dissipate anxiety, anger, grief or depression, and improve health by increasing peace and joy.
This simple USE method has had dramatic effect with thousands of people. The following are two related experiences: "As I listen to the depression-matching music on the tape, something seems to come into my chest, grab the depression, and pull it out physically. The second portion of the tape makes me think of love . I feel much better, at peace."
- Manuel B.
"Extreme family problems used to create intense anger and sadness in me . I never felt as deeply as with a prescription tape. The most powerful changes happened during the fourth week. I moved into a new dimension of peace. When I surrendered to the music . sadness and anger just flow through me and move right out. I now realize that feelings are a gift to experience life, rather than holding them back. It's a glorious experience."
- VanDyne W.
The USE method is highly effective in custom prescription tapes, or through a special music prescription called MEE - Music Exercising Emotions - Concert (Pinkerton, 1991, 1996). The MEE Concert sequences music was found to significantly reduce anxiety in a preliminary cancer study. Available in tape and CD formats, you can USE the MEE Concert or select other music to create custom prescription tapes.
Rely on your instincts about what music to use first, next and last, and foster resiliency in your health this holiday season.
Over 2,500 music therapists are employed nationally serving nearly 70 different work settings, In a population area of 1.1 million people, Las Vegas employs three music therapists that currently serve geriatric, mental health, at-risk youth and a general population of high-functioning adults, who access music therapy through performances, introductory, short-term or long-term program and accredited workshops. For further information, contact the Center for Creative Therapeutic Arts (CCTA), a nonprofit education and research center for the creative arts therapies, at (702) 363-8166. Programs provided by CCTA have been funded by United Way, Catholic Charities of So. Nevada, Lied Discovery Children's Museum, Clark County Social Services, Clark County School District, and Valley Hospital Medical Center.
Judith Pinkerton, author of The Sound of Healing: Create Your Own Music Program for Better Health (Alliance Publishing, 1996), is a music therapist and motivational speaker, conducting seminars, individual and group sessions for stress and pain management, and working with at-risk youth. As a recording artist (violin), she offers a product line of music therapy CDs and tapes, Since 1990, Pinkerton has facilitated accredited workshops for five health care boards and founded the Center for Creative Therapeutic Arts (CCTA), a nonprofit education and research center for the creative arts therapies. She can be reached through CCTA at (702) 363-8166.