Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Art of Music Therapy

As an art therapist and a musician, I completely understand the power of music therapy. (I've even thought about going back to school for a music therapy degree, but the opportunity hasn't presented itself yet.) Here's some great reports about our cousin in the creative arts therapies.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) Listening to music can put you in a good mood, but on-going research proves it can literally improve a person's overall health.

On-going research has shown that playing live, structured and uncomplicated music for infants can decrease heart rates, increase oxygen intake, lower cortisol levels and facilitate development. Certified practitioners say music therapy can sometimes reach patients in ways other therapies cannot.

The University of Alabama is the only school in the state offering a degree in Music Therapy and as CBS 42's Leigh Garner reports, the benefits of a good song could be life changing.

The University of Alabama is the only school in the state with a program and degree for Musical Therapy. Department heads and professors run clinicals at various facilities as part of the degree requirements and to further their research. In recent studies they have discovered playing live, simple, and structured music can actually lower stress levels in adults and children. In premature babies, musical therapy also decreases the amount of time many infants must stay in the hospital. Practicioners say the difference musical therapy can make in a patient's life is visible and recognizable, while it can also provide financial benefits for hospitals and insurance providers.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Every day in the United States, 46 children are diagnosed with cancer. One
out of five don't survive treatment, but music is helping young patients heal emotionally and physically.

Eleven-year-old Alex Harkins has been coming to Texas Children's Hospital since before she could talk.

"I had a tumor on my liver," Harkins told Ivanhoe.

Doctors removed it, but during follow up visits, she discovered a special place here -- a recording studio where kids write down their feelings and put them to music.

"Anything that kids can do that brings them joy helps to boost their immune system," Anita Kruse, founder of Purple Songs Can Fly at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, Texas, explained.

Research shows music helps calm patients during procedures, promotes relaxation and sleep, and reduces pain and treatment side effects. Harkins has been cancer free for ten years. Her message to other kids

"Don't give up now matter how hard it gets," Harkins said.

Children from around the world have recorded in this studio. Their songs are heard played on Continental Airlines flights. The music recorded at the studio has also flown into space. One of the NASA astronauts took two of the CDs on a shuttle mission to the international space station.



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