WHAT NOW?

| June 4, 2018 | 0 Comments

Music Saves

Here are all the things you can’t think about while you’re playing music: Did I pay my mortgage? I know I put the payment on automatic, but does it begin this month? Next month? Should I wear the floral skirt? Maybe basic black’s better. Are Syria’s wars ever going to end?

Nope. Even if you’ve played from childhood –“Baa-baa Black Sheep” – several thousand times by now, you can’t play it even mildly well if you’re thinking about anything else – at all.

And that’s what I like. I’d guess that music – to play for sure, to sing together – has fostered more unity and peace in the world than any other single activity. My drummer brother Michael says, simply, “It gets us out of our heads!” Music therapists, including Sharp’s new program, agree. That’s they’ve turned music into a healing treatment. It’s been well documented to relieve pain, reduce distress, lower blood pressure, boost immunity, enhance intelligence, and improve memory.

Moreover, plenty of research has shown that preemies, children of all ages, and dogs (well, I knew that, judging from our entitled Fen’s collapsing, immobile at my feet at my first flute note!) find peace in being presented with music.

Next to we humans, actually, perhaps dogs benefit the most from music. Sue Wagner, who wrote, “Through a Dog’s Ear,” reports that music can soothe and relax your hyperactive pooch. At a test of 150 dogs, she discovered that certain classical pieces could cure separation anxiety, say, and other issues that provoke drooling, panting and incessant barking.

With my musician companions, these days we whirl ‘round senior facilities, playing the music we love, and that we know resonates with our audiences: the Gershwin brothers, Cole Porter, Hank Williams (well, poor Hank pretty much always lost his lover, but he did manage to cheer up now and then (Jambalaya – “Goodbye Joe, me gotta go, me-oh-my-oh..” etc. And he was only depressed in-between songs). Jerome Kern, Harold Arlen, and, of course, the music from the shows that go with them: Rogers & Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma,” and just in town, “South Pacific,” Gershwin’s ”Porgy & Bess,” or Harold Arlen’s “Wizard of Oz.” We’re constantly impressed by the recall of elderly and/or infirm seniors, who rouse to melodies and lyrics. (Once you know ol’ “baa-baa black sheep, “ you never, ever, forget it!)

Oliver Sacks, in a discussion of his book, “Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain,” said, “I’m actually amazed at how much of the brain is recruited for musical experience. The ability to appreciate music is a defining quality of our humanity.” (O.K. he didn’t know Fen.)

Here are your instructions: revive your childhood piano lessons. Pick up a guitar, cello, or sax. Any instrument will do. (No, I didn’t “recommend” the flute. For one thing, that mouthpiece, it’s too difficult! For another, I don’t need the competition.)

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Category: Entertainment, Life Style

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