Music is everywhere. Even from the womb, humans experience sound: a mother's heartbeat, breathing and muffled voice. Growing up humans sing songs, hear music being played and they may even make their own music. Irritating noise of traffic in the street to the soft, soothing music played in the elevator and at shopping malls, music surrounds humans and, may impact them without their knowledge. The constant honking of a car horn will tend to irritate someone; whereas, a string quartet playing classical music has the tendency to calm. As music's calming powers are astoundingly noticeable , it would prove worthwhile to explore the benefits of listening to music as a means of relaxation as well as a therapeutic technique. Music has been used as a healing force for centuries. Apollo is the ancient Greek god of music and of medicine, Aesculapius was said to cure diseases of the mind by using song and music, and music therapy was also used in Egyptian temples. Plato said that music affected the emotions and could influence the character of an individual. Aristotle taught that music affects the soul and described music as a force that purified the emotions. As early as 400 B.C., Hippocrates played music for his mental patients. In the thirteenth century, Arab hospitals contained music-rooms for the benefit of the patients. In the United States, Native Americans often used chants and dances as a method of healing patients. Music therapy as the world knows it began in the aftermath of World Wars I and II, when musicians would travel to hospitals and play music for soldiers suffering from war-related emotional and physical trauma.
Numerous doctors and nurses witnessed the effect music had on the veterans' psychological, cognitive, physiological, and emotional state. Since then, colleges and universities developed programs to train musicians how to use music for therapeutic purposes. In 1950 an organization was formed by a collaboration of music therapists that worked with veterans, mentally impared, and hearing/visually impaired. This was the birth of the National Association for Music Therapy (NAMT). In 1998, NAMT joined forces with another music therapy organization to become what is now known as the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA). Music therapists work with a variety of physical, emotional, and psychological symptoms. Music therapy is often used in cancer treatment to help reduce pain, anxiety, and nausea caused by chemotherapy. Some people believe music therapy may be a beneficial addition to the health care of children with cancer by promoting social interaction and cooperation. There is evidence that music therapy can reduce high blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, depression, and sleeplessness. There are no claims music therapy can cure cancer or other diseases, but medical experts do believe it can reduce some symptoms, aid healing, improve physical movement, and enrich a patient’s quality of life. What does music therapy involve, some may ask? Well, Music therapists design music sessions for individuals based on their needs. Some aspects of music therapy include making music, listening to music, writing songs, and talking about lyrics. Music therapy may also involve imagery and learning through music. It can be done in different places such as hospitals, at home, or anywhere people can benefit from its calming effects. “Any good therapist begins where a client is, and all behavior (once again) is communication. I may not know why my client jumps or screams but what I do know is that they are communicating something about themselves. I mirror musically anything they do. I do this to play back to them, giving them a musical portrait of themselves. It may not be by typical standards what you would consider “beautiful” music.” Said music therapist Antoinette Morrison; Music therapists often use music to communicate. With its beat, melody, and lyrics, music is a kind of language in itself.