Music is supposed to soothe the savage beast, but the latest greatest research on multiple diseases has shown it can do more than tame a beast. Some findings seem counterintuitive to what many of us would imagine. Late stage Alzheimer’s patients are able to recall the lyrics to songs, yet are not able to speak. As a result researchers are testing the possibility that patients may be able to learn vital information like taking their medications through song.
There are over 10 million people worldwide with the progressive movement disorder Parkinson’s disease. They struggle with stiff limbs, tremors and poor balance. A study performed by Dr. Patricia McKinley of McGill University in Montreal demonstrated that when seniors danced the tango, there were benefits not only to the body, but also to the brain. Participants had increased muscle tone and balance, but what’s more interesting is that their memories improved, and they also showed a greater ability to multitask — on or off the dance floor.
Jazz musicians use improvisation which reduces self-censoring and enhances the region that allows for self-expression. My partner is a jazz musician and I am often in awe of his abilities. He is able to take a song and play it differently each time with such variety. Whenever his group gets together, it consistently amazes me how they can play so intuitively without rehearsal.
Meditation is enhanced with music and so are massages. Music can reduce anxiety during dental procedures as long as it doesn’t sound like someone is playing a jackhammer as an instrument. During one of my surgeries I listened to music that had been chosen to enhance healing. It definitely helped me to relax, and if the mind/body are relaxed, then healing becomes easier.
There are places where I wish more thought would go into the kind of music that’s played. I want to run out of the supermarket sometimes when they are relentlessly playing songs which I feel are only OK for going to a Jay Z concert. The one place that I find to be incredibly bothersome are restaurants that blast music that might be better for a nightclub. When I’m eating and trying to digest my meal do I really need to listen to music that is giving me heartburn? Yes, I’m from a different generation, but our hearing and our digestion can be compromised at any age, and there are more young people losing their hearing than previous generations.
I would strongly suggest if you have children to encourage them to play an instrument or do it yourself. Age doesn’t matter. It can be a wonderful source of entertainment for them or you through the years. Sports are all well and good, but when you’re older it’s easier to sit down and play the piano rather than getting a soccer team together.
— Author, humorist, PBS star and Fortune 500 trainer Loretta LaRoche lives in Plymouth, Massachusetts. To share your pet peeves, questions or comments, write to The Humor Potential, 50 Court St., Plymouth, MA 02360. Visit her website at stressed.com.