Friday, August 8, 2008

Music for Life

Dentist surgery
Dr. Ng asked me what sort of music I would like to listen to prior to commencement of dental surgery at his clinic Hoi Ping Road some 22 years ago. He selected the music I requested and turned up the volume control on his Mark Levinson and it was then time to commence with the removal of my badly positioned growing wisdom teeth. He later told me that playing a piece of the patients favorite music during dental surgery was an effective way to reduce the pain and associated symptoms with the operation.
There have been extensive studies undertaken on how music can improve milk yields in dairy cattle; and possibly improve the quality of beef by broadcasting music in the cattle sheds. It has also been suggested that music can increase the size and quality of fruit crops.
So how can music affect the human body? According to research reported at the American Society of Hypertension meeting in New Orleans; listening to half hour of music each day may significantly lower your blood pressure.

To test this hypothesis, a selected group of 48 adults aged between 45-70, who were taking medication to control mild hypertension, took part in the study. Of these, 28 listened to 30 minutes of “rhythmically homogenous” classical, Celtic or raga music daily while practicing slow, controlled breathing exercises, the remaining 20 participants, serving as the control group, made no changes to their daily routine.
Blood pressure readings taken after one and four weeks from the start of the study showed that systolic blood pressure- the top number in the blood pressure reading; had dropped significantly to those participants listen to music. In contrast, the control group exhibited only small, non-significant reduction in blood pressure.

There is no prejudice in the type of music chosen as different people have different taste in music appreciation.

An unconfirmed report states that the heavy metal and rock and roll music can actually kill a plantation; whereas music of the classical category can actually help to stimulate bigger and more beautiful flowers.

The Effects of Music
Even though the term music therapy is fairly new in modern society, the concept and practice of using music to assist the healing process can be traced back to antiquity. One particularly interesting example, from our earlier history has been written about the Russian Envoy Count Kayserling. The Count suffered with miserable insomnia and to help him with his problem, he asked Johann Goldberg, a local musician to play for him at night.

The Count had informed Bach about his terrible problems with sleeplessness and had asked Bach to compose some music that might help him relax and get to sleep. Goldberg seized his harpsichord and played the music composed for the Count by Johann Sebastian Bach..

Soon Goldberg was playing the music Bach had composed for the Count’s to help him with his insomnia. The Count arranged for Goldberg to have rooms nearby so that he could call on his services when required. The Count was so happy with the beneficial effects of this music that he rewarded Bach generously . Today this music is known as the Goldberg Variations.

Music and Mood
Think about any scary movie that you have ever seen i.e jaws! And consider the most frightening part of that movie. Try to imagine the same scene without music. What happens to the movie? Suddenly it becomes far less frightening. The dramatic music creates the mood of fear. Music creates the mood for many settings. People who create the “atmosphere” of a movie are very aware of the powerful effect of music.

Music also sets the tone for sporting events, parades, restaurants, shopping centers, television shows, advertisements, dances, sleeping and many other places and activities. Music selection is usually precise and purposeful and selected to help create the correct ambience for that particular setting, In many cases i.e. whilst out shopping at a major department store, you may not be aware of the music that is playing. However, but the music has usually been specially selected for shoppers to encourage them to spend more time enjoying their shopping experience. If you go to an all-you-can-eat restaurant, you will observe different music than if you went to a very nice restaurant. In the all-you-can-eat place, the music is usually louder and peppier because the owner wants you to hurry up, eat, and get out of there. In the nice restaurant, the music is generally soft and peaceful encouraging you to stay and order more food because you don’t pay for it until you are finished.

MacDonalds have done their own research, which shows that we eat according to the speed of the music being played. Therefore, when a restaurant is busy, with a queue building up, McDonalds plays fast music, thus ensuring that the customers will eat quickly, and leave the restaurant sooner, freeing up more tables for incoming t customers.

Bed time music
Whilst sleeping I try to listen to some classical music at low volume levels. One of my favorites includes selections from “ Your hundred best tunes” which was compiled following a national audience poll on Alan Keiths BBC Radio 2 on Sunday nights. The top ten all time classics include: No.1 Sibelius: Finlandia, No. 2 Johann Strauss: Casanove- Nuns’ Chorus, No.3 Mascagni:cavalleria Rusticana- Intermezzo, No. 4. Zeller Der Obsersteiger- Don’t be cross, No. 5 Beethoven Symphony No.”6” Pastoral Shepherds’ Thanksgiving after the storm…
I dubbed these pieces onto cassette tapes and let it play continuously until I fall asleep as I believe it helps repair my brain cells while I am sleeping…and doing some defragmentation on my brain hard disk!

I feel very passionately about the power of music to affect us, our mood certainly, but also physiologically. The rhythm in music can affect our pulse and respiration, improve relaxation and improve our general state of “well-being”. By “Performing” music an individual can have a very effective means of expression. It’s also great for our self-esteem and confidence. One CEO in a USA MNC had also his own special way to reduce “stage fright “prior to giving a presentation on the company’s annual report to the media. He listened to his best favourite music loud in that morning and this had the effect of helping him deliver his presentation.

Music can be listened to, used as a means of expression, or performed.

You don’t have to be a “musician” to enjoy playing a musical instrument. We use percussion instruments from all over the world, and can improvise with many common house hold items i.e hammer handles make great claves, broom handles and dustbins (and lids), saucepans, small branches from a tree, plastic bottle filled with rice, hardboard as a “wobble board” – just a few examples! Sing! How many of us sing in the bath/shower – wonderfully uninhibited and expressive. From many media statistics and stress management studies it is generally agreed Classical music is one of the best forms of music to calm us, invigorate us and comfort us…

I would highly recommend that everybody should spend some time listening to great music whilst we are sleeping, dinning, or typing our weekly report, it helps to improve health, slow down our heart rate, reduce our blood pressure… and most of all, helps to prepare us a for another long day at works. Go for it!
Compiled by Fever, Edited by Alf Progman.

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