Today, more and more seniors are watching their diet and implementing exercise programs in an effort to remain more healthful, manage stress, and participate in a lifestyle that is rewarding and enjoyable. Many are aware of the benefits of diet and exercise in helping to keep our bodies and minds operating a peak levels of performance, but what is not known is the role music can play in helping older citizens (and I believe younger ones, too) to manage stress, become a part of an enjoyable learning experience, and acquire a new tool in their efforts to stay healthy.
What many people don’t realize is the role music could play in their life, throughout the course of their life. Music is our connection between the everyday spoken word, and the power of our spirituality. Music operates on sound waves that fall in the range between vocal sounds, or our voice, and spiritual prayer, or meditative brain wave lengths. What does all that say? It is a link, an avenue to connect with our higher conscious on a moment to moment basis, to relive stress, comfort us, or simply lift our spirit.
Professors and other leaders of the education environment have long known the benefits of musical talent. Learning to make music and play musical instruments increases our mathematical and scientific analysis abilities. In the course of the learning process, the musical notations and reading of musical notes, works within the vastness of our brain to stimulate the processes associated with working mathematical problems, solving analytical problems, and excelling in the sciences.
What have we learned from watching our young people, as they learn to perform and play musical instruments? There is a direct association with the hopeful mindset of youth, and the pouring out of musical creation. Both the young mind and the musical note bring about joy and hope, in an untainted, unlearned environment. The young mind is oblivious to the constraints of life that the middle-aged person has learned well, and the musical note serves as a constant invitation to belief in the impossible.
What have studies revealed about the power of music? In studies performed on older citizens, the effect of learning to play music, and participate in music performances, lowered stress and anxiety levels, feelings of isolation and loneliness decreased, and here’s the real surprise, participants actually showed increases in the production of the human growth hormone. The human growth hormone positively affects aging phenomena such as energy levels, wrinkling, osteoporosis, sexual function, muscle mass and general aches and pains.
What important information does this impart to health practitioners? It brings to the forefront the need for increased exposure to group activity and social interaction. The benefit of learning musical instruments and enjoyment of the music they generate only sees its true potential when applied in a group setting, where laughter, music and fellowship can take place. Studies of this nature serve to reinforce the long-held belief that music is a way to connect with our higher selves, our peers, and to bring about increased enjoyment of our lives.