Saturday 18 January 2020

Body rhythms

• Stephen Adams's report (Irish Independent, March 28), highlights a recent 'surgical-music' hospital project in Oxford, which suggests a clear relaxation quotient for patients preparing for and undergoing 'the knife'. Hardly startling news, in a way, since music of various modes and styles has been employed through the ages -- for many 'healthcare' procedures, both before and after the scientific era.

Music has been employed in every culture and community known to mankind for a vast spectrum of emotional, physical and relaxation benefits. From shamanistic healing rituals to wailing bereavement patterns, from music therapy in its many modern clinical applications within intensive care units, rehabilitation programmes, disability services, (both physical and intellectual) and mental healthcare to music thanatology, a music-therapeutic approach within care programmes for the dying.

The inherent flexibilities and endless options available for engaging with music/sound, make it a natural and valuable intervention which can suit most healthcare scenarios. The 'scientification' of healthcare delivery frequently tends to overshadow and relegate the innate, personalised power of music/sound to assist in healing and/or ameliorate distress or dysfunction of all kinds.

The fact that music is ubiquitous, universal and anything but univalent, makes it an ideal accompanier through the vicissitudes of any personal healthcare journeys, procedures and challenges. Music therapy works very well indeed when framed in correctly matching 'dosage and format'.

'Soothing pieces by Beethoven, Vivaldi and Bach' may, of course, help some people, but they will probably not be everyone's 'little knife music'. Music/sound is very much a personalised, subjective experience as well as (possibly) offering a potential 'aesthetic-anaesthetic' objective. Idiosyncracy is all.

Jim Cosgrove
Senior music therapist,
Lismore, Co Waterford

Irish Independent

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