Music During Quarantine

May 28, 2020

Music During Quarantine
The therapeutic effects of music have been well known since the beginnings of human history. Greek philosophers like Aristotle and Pythagoras, and influential Chinese philosophers such as Confucius, have mentioned the relationship between music and health, social cohesion, and the vast machinery of the universe. We have scientific evidence of how music works, and how it affects us physically and psychologically. The development of Neuroscience shows us that music is processed throughout the brain and not just in one region, as previously thought, affecting our whole body and mind. Music also affects us consciously and unconsciously and well used, it can benefit our mental and physical health. During the Covid-19 pandemic, we have seen how many families have suffered from the quarantine, confinement, hospitalizations, stress for job loss, and even from the loss of life. In these difficult times, we must remember that music is our ally and knowing how to use it can help us go through this crisis with ease, dignity, and hope.

One of the most important aspects of music is that music is a universal experience. It is felt and enjoyed by all ages and health conditions. Healthy or sick people can use music for their benefit. Thanks to the development of Music Therapy in the world, today, we have scientific research showing that music can help improve breathing, lower blood pressure, improve heart rate, and relax muscle tension, among other benefits. Dr. Susan Hanser, music therapist, author, and professor in the music therapy department at Berklee College of Music mentions that there are established protocols for pain management through music for example. “[It] is based on a cognitive behavioral model of therapy, which posits that new thoughts, feelings and body states may be conditioned to replace dysfunctional patterns. Specifically, a relaxed body and pleasant visual images may replace tension and worry when they are conditioned as a response to familiar, calming music.” The music therapy protocol is designed to perform various 1 functions including diverting attention from pain or anxiety, distracting the listener with comforting music, providing a musical stimulus for rhythmic breathing, and offering a rhythmic structure for release systematic body tension. Music also serves to indicate positive visual images, it can condition a deep relaxation response, it can change humor, and can help us focus on positive thoughts and feelings and celebrate life.

In times of quarantine, we can use the therapeutic effects of music for our benefit, starting with recognizing what music we like, and what helps us exercise, study, sleep, dance. When we wake up, depending on how we want to start the day, we can make breakfast with our favorite recording of Chopin to keep us calm and focused, starting the day thoughtful and meditating on how to be productive on this day of quarantine. When you wake up with vitality, thinking of the better moments coming, you can get up with a John Coltrane solo or some music that makes you reflect, question or push you to be creative. If you wake up with a headache, maybe you prefer to close the windows and let silence (an important musical factor) make its effect. During the day you can use different songs to spend your day and make it productive. If you want to exercise, a faster tempo will help you keep the rhythm of the exercise, a song of salsa, merengue, bachata or rumba, along with a good dance, can be the physical activity of the day. At night, when you want children and adults to lower their energy levels and prepare to have a good night sleep, the music changes again. You can put music as a quiet background, slower tempos, and end the day with recordings of meditative music, or sounds of nature. The rhythms, melodies, harmonies, will remain engraved in our brain forever. Today we have a lot of access to music on the internet, apps, phones, radios, and other electronic platforms. Let’s take this quarantine time to reflect on our relationship with music. What music we enjoy, what are the messages of their songs, how it affects us, how we want to use it for the benefit of our well-being. Let’s make a schedule of the day and think about what music should go with what activity. What emotions does certain music cause me and why, what are the songs that raise my spirits. Perhaps this is the time to learn an instrument or take up the instrument we left years ago. Perhaps it is the music that we lacked to pass the quarantine.

About the author: Patricia Zárate de Pérez Professor in the Department of Music Therapy at Berklee College of Music, Boston, USA and Founder of the Panama Music Therapy Center Photo:

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