One of the universal characteristics of humanity is music. Every culture from around the world has some version of music; whether it is accompanied by instruments or is solely made by vocal chords. Is music just sound? Sound is already an applied science, as sonograms. We know through sonograms, specifically ultra sounds, the sex of our unborn child, whether that child is healthy and growing, and we are able to see their hearts beat. SWL (sonic wave lithotripsy), another type of sonogram, is how doctors primarily treat kidney stones in the United States. But what are the broader applications of music? Can it be used as medicine? What does music do for us?
Music can make you more intelligent.
While it is common knowledge that music can be used as therapy. Studies also show that music makes you more intelligent. The so-called “Mozart effect” showed that participants had higher IQs when they listened to Mozart for ten minutes prior to taking the exam. These results were not replicated with just sound (ocean noises) or with other genres of music. A study conducted in 2010 showed that children who learn how to read music and play an instrument had higher test scores than their non-musical peers. Music helps dementia and alzheimer's patients manage stress, and has shown some signs of memory recovery, emotional and sensory awareness.
Doctors can use music when patients undergo surgery.
Music is used in operating rooms across the country because studies show that under anesthesia, patients do “better” (i.e.- have steadier heart beats, and lower blood pressure) when listening to their choice of music. Patients who listened to music did not require additional sedatives while undergoing a procedure; these results were replicated with different surgeries. Patients in recovery also did better when they listened to their choice in music in the recovery room and upon being moved to a step down unit.
Studies show that music can help the body to heal.
Furthermore, additional studies show that music can aid in alleviating pain, both emotional and physical pain. Studies show that patients who listened to classical music were less depressed after listening. However, it must be noted that the same study also detailed that if the music was techno or metal, the symptoms worsened.
Music has multiple medical applications, from the surgery room to the therapy room. It serves as a multitude of treatment options for everything from calming, to pain management. Now that there’s medical proof of the application of music, I bet we’ll see even wider applications in the future.