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The Magical Medicine of Music

Boy with Down Syndrome playing violin

Music and its many benefits have been woven into the fabric of my life. Sunday mornings from my childhood overflow with memories of my mom's sweet humming as she prepared our after-church meal. I believe this was my first "music appreciation" class!

In fourth grade our summer school class learned to play the song flute. The plastic instrument produced harsh notes at first while eventually blending into soft, chirping songs. I was hooked on music.

I was fortunate to be blessed with piano lessons from a neighbor, learning to plunk out tunes with two hands and learn the position of musical notes. My lessons didn't last long, but gave me a life-long ability to read music. At age fifteen, I was singing as an alto in the church choir. Music was now one of my passions.

After our son, Sean, was diagnosed with Dyslexia in fourth grade, we sought help through music therapy. Stowell Learning Center was an answer to our prayer. Their auditory stimulation training paired with educational therapy brought Sean's reading ability from Grade Three to Grade Four in three short months.

To have a deeper appreciation for music, I studied its effects on the brain. I was truly amazed at the results music can have on improving your overall health. We've all experienced how music calms us down or inspires us to get up and dance. Did you know that music also helps you be more creative and productive? Playing an instrument is even more effective. Musicians have bigger brains with more neural connections. "They have superior working memory, auditory skills, and cognitive flexibility. Areas of the brain responsible for motor control, auditory processing, and spatial coordination are larger." (

Of course there are many benefits to simply listening to music. We know from science that music can improve your mood and reduce your stress. Your body will produce less cortisol, the stress hormone. Music increases dopamine, the "feel-good" chemical in our brain. It also stimulates the hormone oxytocin, which helps us bond to other people. Music improves cross-brain activity, increasing and activating neurons across the corpus collosum (the area connecting the two sides of the brain).

Because music increases oxygen circulation in the brain, your blood pressure is reduced. Studies have also shown an improvement in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's with the introduction of regular music. (

An article published from Harvard Medical School provided some fascinating results. For patients receiving chemotherapy, music reduced their anxiety and helped stop nausea and vomiting. Music therapy also decreased pain perception and reduced the amount of pain medication needed. It helped relieve depression in patients as well. For patients recovering from a stroke, music therapy helped usher in language when used with singing. (

God has advice for us regarding music (Colossians 3:16), "Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts."

God created music for our pure enjoyment as well as for our physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. He designed it to be used as a way to express our love for each other, and as a way to praise and glorify Him. My prayer for you is that you will be blessed and transformed by the many benefits of the medicine of music!

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