Music’s origin has not yet been dated as it has been said to have occurred long before recorded history. Some historians say it may have come from naturally occurring sounds and rhythms like the sound of thunder or the sound of a running stream. Human music may have come from trying to echo these sounds using patterns, repetition and tonality. Even at present time, some cultures use music that imitates natural sounds. Aside from the usual bird song, and animals tapping on hollow logs to mark territory, the human voice is said to be the first music instrument.
Music was said to have been used in relation to shamanistic beliefs or practice, for entertainment, and/or for practical functions. Music has been used in feast celebration, as a form of praise and worship. It has also been used to while away vacant time. The men have used it for hunting by using the music to lure animals into traps or cornered areas.
The main use of music back then was for communication to the spirit world. Back then people believed that spirits, be it of nature, animals or other men, play a vital role on human lives. People also used to believe that their physical well-being is connected to the spirit, that illnesses and diseases were related to an imbalance in the harmony of the body and soul. Shamans, or what we call witch doctors in present times, are the healers, gurus and magicians of their tribe. They are responsible for getting rid of illnesses by uttering chants, singing, dancing, meditating and drumming.
At present times, music is still being used as a form of therapy to provide stress relief and treat people with anxiety disorder among other mental conditions. Nowadays, it is more formally known as music therapy. The idea of this form of therapy is at least as old as the writings of Aristotle. It was administered back during World War 1 and 2 where community musicians visit hospitals to play for physically and emotionally traumatized soldiers. Simply put, music therapy is the use of music by a trained professional to achieve therapeutic goals. These therapeutic goals may include: promoting wellness, managing stress, alleviating pain, expressing feelings, enhancing memory, improving communication and promoting physical rehabilitation.
Studies have shown that listening to music during an anxiety attack may calm the person down and relax the sufferer. This is most true with patients experiencing anxiety prior to undergoing surgery. It is the most easily administered, inexpensive, non-invasive, non-threatening tool to calm preoperative anxiety.
Music is an incredibly powerful form of expression. It brings together words and melody to get a message across. Some songs may trigger memories, happy or sad, in your mind. This is the strongest proof that music and human emotions are interconnected. Giving depressive patients an outlet such as music is the best way for sufferers to, little by little, let out the source of their depression and alleviates patients’ moods.
Healthy individuals may use music therapy as a form of stress relief through active music making. This includes drumming, using the guitar to make music. The passive approach requires listening for relaxation. Music can also be used as accompaniment during exercise.
Music has also been proven helpful to improve memory and motor skills for children in special classes. This also helps strengthens non-musical functions such as communication skills and physical coordination skills required for daily life.
Music, then and now, has been very helpful for everyday living. From the primitive caveman to the modern scientists, everybody would agree in saying music is indeed the food for the soul, and in this therapy, for the body as well.
Helene Goldnadel is a musician and a music teacher. She provides lessons on various activities ranging from acting, singing, dancing to life coaching and personal development to her young students. For many years Helene is working with children in voice placement, voice projection.