It is all about music and the brain

Making music and movement has no time or age limit.

Fetuses in the womb, infants, toddlers, youths, adolescents, young adult to old age can finger play, do hand games. hopscotch, do upper body or head movements, sway to the music, do total body movement, tap feet, or pat the lap or knee; or just nod their heads or move their shoulders.

Music and rhythm have been found to cause fetuses to kick in the womb. It is effective in engaging infants and non-verbal children and adults and even those with Alzheimer’s. Persons with Parkinson’s have been known to walk gracefully and dance smoothly without a shuffle to “Walking my baby back home”.

In my practice with adult hospital patients or older adults there was always a risk for falls due to mental, physical, or cognitive issues or medication. Therefore, I started all my groups with seated position. Breathing and breathing awareness was always so important. All movement activities require oxygen. Deep breathing helps the lungs to take in more oxygen, helps activate the diaphragm, stretches the body to better posture to take in more oxygen. Thus, the lungs get rid of carbon dioxide and the body gets prepared to release other body waste; and the intestines get ready to eliminate waste from the body, and the heart beat regulates and blood flows through the veins.

Music can help regulate all the rhythms of the body, the heart beat and the cerebral circulation. The normal functions of the brain depend upon adequate supply of oxygen and nutrients through the network of blood vessels. That cerebral circulation is the blood flow in the brain. Healthy brain function is most important.  Circulating blood supplies your brain with the oxygen and nutrients to function and sufficiently deliver oxygen and glucose to the brain.  All bodily functions have rhythm, timing and a sound and any of these off, or abnormal can signal or help describe an illness or malfunction. The application of music therapy in conjunction with other modalities of treatment or observations can help regulate the heartbeat, blood flow; and can energize and activate the neuron areas with oxygen. Adding body movement to an activity can stimulate more proficiency in the whole neural process like a kick off in a football game.

Music can turn a scowl or frown into a smile. Music evokes interaction, engagement and intimacy. Too often in some treatment facilities for the aged, people are just lined up sitting looking at the wall or in wheel chairs nodding. A musical activity as simple as each one reciting their names to a rhythm makes for engagement, exchange, laughter, reinforcement and some form of memory and intimacy. For patients most cognitively impaired, eye contact is so important; and those are the most neglected in terms of intimacy. Those are the ones to which care givers do something to, instead of doing something with.  Music therapy is always between the therapist and the person receiving the therapy. It is by nature an intimate environment for engagement and interaction and intimacy.

In my movement groups, I found it wonderfully useful to allow each participant to lead the group in a movement. Maybe the first round some would pass, but by the second or third round all have participated fully in the group activity in its entirety, and all were moving together uninhibited and smoothly; and were sparked with motivation for sharing, expressing feelings, emotions, tears, or joy and laughter.

Music in any form requires movement.  Movement therapy came out of music therapy and movement may bring up feelings, whether deep, dark reflections, regret, tears of sorrow, or tears of joy.  Music can help facilitate it all. There is movement to music, movement in music and movement with music or just movement. All have rhythm, timing, sequence, and sound or silence (sound of silence). It is all there. It is color, blemishes, veins, scars, memories of the past or just the beginning. Music therapists can help you unchain your melody, blend your harmonies and get in beat to your rhythm of life; that vital expression of life. True life like true music is all about sharing. Get living, get into the music, get your blood flowing, march to the rhythm your heartbeat, fire up your neurons with oxygen and get energized. It is all about music and the brain.

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