Exciting News about Music in Health and Medicine

“Music therapy has been an invaluable tool with many of our rehabilitation patients. There is no question that the relationship of music and medicine will blossom because of the advent of previously unavailable techniques that can now show the effects of music.”  ~ Mathew Lee (Acting Director, Rusk Institute, New York)

On November 29, 2011 I attended a second colloquy at the University of Toronto on Music in Health and Medicine.  Here I learned about current research on such topics as enabling people to enjoy music, the health of musicians, and music in the treatment of illness.  It is exciting to know that different fields will collaborate to generate music research, and to consider Toronto’s role in creating a centre for music and health research.  A recent article in the Toronto Star describes, among other things, how research generated by this centre can lead to the improvement of such conditions as strokes, Alzheimer’s, chronic pain and Parkinson’s. 


A related article in the Globe and Mail links readers to further stories about music therapy, how music is being used therapeutically with children in hospitals, and how music can improve our mood or aid in the recovery of stroke victims.


The world’s awareness of the benefits of music therapy has been raised, as we have followed the recovery of U.S. congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the left hemisphere last January.  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2011/11/18/f-vp-bambury.html .  My eyes filled with tears when I watched a therapy session on YouTube in which Congresswoman Giffords worked so hard to regain her voice through music.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiJ9X_wLSWM .  I could only feel inspired by her courage, and motivated to try to learn more about how music can have such an amazing impact on our health, well-being and our lives.

It follows then to want to learn more about the health benefits of music in early childhood.  My own studies in early childhood music education allowed me to see the positive effects on children when music is enjoyed in the classroom on a daily basis (e.g., increased confidence and happiness).  Music therapy can be used in early childhood classrooms to help children with special needs to learn concepts and be more engaged in activities, to express emotions or to feel calmer.  A very interesting article discusses how educators can integrate music into their classrooms and curriculum to enhance learning and development and to improve behaviour.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ronna-kaplan-ma/music-therapy-children_b_1188226.html.

There is so much current research worth exploring, that can inform our practices as educators and care providers.  Take a moment to look at information that is attracting media attention, influencing our thinking – both as citizens and as educators – and making us more aware of some of the healthful benefits of music.

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