By Marilyn Delk
DARKE COUNTY—Our local public radio station, WDPR/WDPG, launched its biannual membership drive last Sunday, and while continuing to play classical music, has consistently bombarded listeners with reasons to support the station which, uninterrupted, sends music to listeners across the country and around the world 24 hours a day, seven days a week. consideration of the value of music for my life and for society.
One of my favorite writers, Kurt Vonnegut, once wrote that all art – music, dancing, acting painting, writing – helps grow your soul. The ancient philosopher Plato said, “Music gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.” Rock star Bono sums up his belief in the power of music by saying, “Music can change the world because it can change people.” Powerful words indeed!
Academic studies have provided real scientific evidence that music benefits health and well-being. Starting with the now controversial “Mozart Effect” study that was supposed to show that listening to classical music actually improves brain function, a finding that the original researchers pointed to as a positive but temporary phenomenon, scientists and health eventually undertook a variety of studies. showing multiple positive impacts. Neuroscientists have found that listening to music affects many areas of the brain, increasing positive emotions, which makes people feel good.
There is evidence showing that the positive impact of music on health may be more powerful than medication. Biological markers of stress – increased heart rate, high blood pressure – were prevented or reduced by listening to music. In fact, one study showed that the effects of music were more powerful than oral medication in managing pain in surgical patients. The reasons for this positive reaction are unclear, but the researchers concluded that the pain-relieving properties of music are real and not related to patient expectations. Other preliminary research has led to the conclusion that music has the potential to stimulate immune response systems; The analysis shows the positive promise of music as a natural medicine, cheap and completely free of unwanted side effects.
Music can also help memory, a thesis leading to the study of its impact on people suffering from memory loss due to medical conditions such as strokes and dementia. Such studies have shown that stroke patients who listened to music showed greater improvement in verbal memory and focused attention, as well as less depression and confusion than those in a control group. Similarly, mood, orientation and memory were improved in patients with dementia who sang and/or listened to music.
Anyone who’s ever rolled down the windows of a car and turned on the radio understands that music can be energizing, and there’s solid science backing up that experience. Researchers have found that music helps reduce fatigue and maintain muscle endurance, confirming the belief that music can improve physical performance and explaining how music enables longer physical training sessions.
In 2009, archaeologists excavating a cave in Germany discovered a flute carved 40,000 years ago from the wing bone of a vulture, indicating that music has been a factor in human life for… well, very long. Music connects us to others, past and present, and remains a powerful tool to unite us. Protest songs inspire a sense of common purpose, while the national anthem connects crowds attending sporting events and other gatherings. Hymns bring people together in places of worship, while love songs and lullabies simply bring people together.
As WDPR/WDPG sends music to listeners around the world, the Darke County Center for the Arts brings live music to our community; both exert a positive influence on life. As Jon Meacham wrote in Songs Of America, “The song has a universal message, is musically uplifting, and sends messages of hopes and dreams. . .. America’s song is not over; the last notes have not yet been played. In this spirit, in this cause, now and always, let us raise every voice and sing.