Family and relationships

The healing power of music

Have you ever found yourself listening to music and feeling better? Music has that kind of power and usefulness for everyone—especially children with special needs and the elderly.

FWD Life Philippines

March 1 is World Music Therapy Day and we’re here to celebrate with the rest of the world the healing power of music. We all know that music, classical music especially, helps increase your focus, helps babies and adults sleep better, lifts your mood and alleviate pain. And it can do so much more!

It’s not just anecdotal how music helps your physical and mental wellbeing, it’s recognized as legit therapy. The National Cancer Institute recognizes music therapy as a type of complementary medicine as it can be used “to help relieve stress, pain, anxiety and depression caused by a disease, such as cancer, and its treatment.”

Music therapy intervention is for everyone, especially children with developmental disabilities  and the elderly with Alzheimer's disease and other aging-related conditions. It is also used to help people with “substance abuse problems, brain injuries, physical disabilities, and acute and chronic pain, including mothers in labor.”

In fact, after World Wars I and II, when musicians played music to injured veterans in hospitals, doctors noticed the patients’ positive physical and emotional responses. It became clear that hospital musicians “needed some prior training before entering the facility and so the demand grew for a college curriculum.” The first music therapy degree program in the world was offered by Michigan State University in 1944.

In the Philippines, Saint Paul University Manila offers a Bachelor of Music in Music Therapy and Master of Arts in Music major in Music Therapy. SPU Manila’s College of Music and the Performing Arts holds webinars in Music Therapy for Special Education teachers and therapists. Other organizations such as the Divine Mercy Mobile Center also conducts music therapy sessions for children with special needs, and provide special education, training and intervention therapy through music and the arts.

Music and children with special needs

Music therapy can help children with special needs who have a difficult time expressing their emotions or thoughts through words. Music therapy can help them to communicate without using words and aid in their learning because it can be a multi-sensory experience by using auditory and visual aids. “Music therapy actually allows people who may find it difficult to communicate through words to communicate through music instead,” according to MusicTherapy.org.

“Research has proven that while language and social abilities in children with ASD show impairment, children with ASD process music in the same ways as those who do not have autism,” says the UK’s The Music Room Leeds. “For many children with disabilities, words present an enormous challenge. Some children have difficulty expressing themselves or their feelings, while others have a hard time communicating or processing their words. Music plays a key role in bridging the gap of communication and eliminates the barrier of turning their inner feelings into verbal expression. It offers freedom of expression and relief by allowing children to speak without using any words at all.”

Raising a family, especially one with a special-needs child, needs financial planning from the get-go. FWD Life Insurance’s Babyproof is an investment-linked insurance that’s designed for your baby’s needs: from life protection and investment to hospital and ICU allowance, should you need it. Babyproof comes with either Set for Life or Manifest with RecoveryPro and SurePro for the policy owner. Talk to an FWD financial advisor today to discuss how it can help you secure your child’s future.  

Music and the elderly

According to MusicTherapy.org, music therapists first assess the emotional wellbeing, physical health, social functioning, communication abilities, and cognitive skills of a person through their musical responses. Then “they design music sessions based on their needs using music improvisation, receptive music listening, song writing, lyric discussion, music and imagery, music performance, and learning through music.”

For the elderly, the aim of music therapy is to improve their memory, reduce their anxiety and enhance their communication skills. “Music therapy for seniors involves memorizing words, patterns, rhythms, and instructions. To participate and ‘make music,’ participants must practice focusing enjoyably. Engaging with a group motivates participants to stay the course and perform for the team,” according to the Miami Jewish Health. “Music therapists use songs with distinctive themes, lyrics, instruments, and rhythms to help participants relax. This slows down the heart rate and lowers the level of the stress hormone cortisol. The effect causes seniors to feel calmer and physically more capable of relaxing.”

Music can make us feel that we are not alone. When you’re listening to music and you think of all the people involved in writing a song and playing the instruments, we never really are. Add music to your life and be amazed how it can sooth the soul and help you improve your mood and wellbeing.