According to Psychology Today’s William R. Klemm Ph. D, simply listening to music can have memory enhancing effects in a tested group of older adults. In other words, we should consider using music as therapy. The fact that listening to Mozart elicits a more productive memory response in adults, when compared to the other controlled conditions of “no music control” along with “white noise control” really puts things into perspective. If music can effectively help one’s memory retention, the time to consider the benefits is closing in when our nation is facing an increasing statistic of Alzheimer’s disease: “The number of Americans 65 and older with Alzheimer’s is expected to triple nearly by 2050 — 13.8 million from 5 million now.”

In fact, the overall therapeutic effects go beyond merely listening to classical music. And these effects are not limited to any single age group. The act of actually picking up an instrument and making music transcends the basic benefits of passively hearing. The act of singing can also be included in the process of making music. Here are some ways to use music as therapy:

1. Use Music as a Release from Anger:

Throughout our lives, we are taught to respond to extreme emotions in different ways– for example: counting to 10 before having a temper tantrum, or maybe taking long deep breaths to control anxiety. When I have access to my drum set, all I need to do is channel my feelings into percussive sounds and I end up feeling much better after just a few minutes.

Music as Therapy

2. Increase Motor Functions

  • The ability to use muscles that you have never used before
  • Staying agile, retaining posture
  • Literal muscle memory
  • Physical therapy

3. Learning Patience

Learning the basis of rhythm and metering allows one to feel a natural sense of balance. Timing becomes important. Along with the skills acquired from understanding the way either musical notation or tablature works, one must acknowledge rests or periods of silence in a piece of music which also coincides with point number 7, Learn to Collaborate.

4. Stress Relief

When you’ve had a hard day at work, problems with family or paying the bills, or you just feel like you’re stretched thin into every direction– sometimes sitting down and playing some chords or perhaps even just listening to some smooth R&B, classical, or if you’re like me, hard rock, can lift a weight off of your shoulders. Music can therefore be utilized as stress therapy.

5. Communicate to Loved Ones

We’ve all seen the cheesy scene in Say Anything where John Cusack stands outside of his lover’s window and blasts Peter Gabriel’s song “In Your Eyes.” He’s proclaiming his love for this girl who’s way out of his league in the simplest way possible– through a song. Sometimes, music can reach the deepest emotions, ones that aren’t always in our vocabularies.

Music as Therapy

6. Avoiding Despair

Just having a distraction from the things in life that we can’t change such as losing loved ones, broken marriages, or financial burdens can give one the clarity to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

7. Learn to Collaborate

  • Making friends in new places
  • Coming to fully understand others

8. Feel a Sense of Self Confidence

When it comes to devoting yourself to something like playing an instrument, the abilities that you will gain will be so rewarding. You’ll look at yourself differently: as some one who can. Your skills will set you aside from other people, yet make you available to them. With these newfound abilities, you will have a new sense of self confidence.

9. Make Money

Being a musician might not be the most lucrative way to get by in life, however, it is being done by people everywhere. Even in the digital age, it is completely possible to reach the public with your name and your music. If you devote yourself to being the best musician you can be, why not take it to the next step and market yourself?

10. Teach Others

Knowing how to do anything is only worth the trouble if we can pass our skills on.

Music as Therapy

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