Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Healing Sounds of Music

When I was about 6, my mom enrolled me in piano lessons. At the time, I hated them. Mostly because I didn't like practicing. But with practice, I became okay (not great, but okay) and I stopped disliking my lessons. I think I took piano lessons until the end of 8th grade. I also sang in the church choir from 3rd grade through the end of 8th grade. I enjoyed that a lot. Finally, I took up playing the flute in 5th grade and continued until mid-way through sophomore year of high school. I enjoyed that a lot too.

Looking back, I think my enjoyment of choir and playing the flute came in part from the fact that I had a music foundation because of playing the piano. I knew how to read music - once you know all the notes, they are the same across all instruments. I understood what being "in tune" meant. I understood harmony and melody. I could keep time. The only thing I had to master was singing or actually playing the flute because I knew the theory.

Musicians have always fascinated me. I have a great deal of respect for people who have the discipline I lacked and have fully developed their musical talents. In fact, I melt for a man who plays the guitar and will sing to me. Humming works too.

Since our earliest ages, we respond to music. Most of us drifted off to sleep as babies to the soothing sounds of our parents' songs. It didn't matter if they were good or could even carry a tune. We learned our ABC's thanks to the Alphabet Song. We learned to spell thanks to music - B-I-N-G-O anyone? And where would we be without School House Rock, Sesame Street, or Mr. Rodgers? Today's kids know Barney and the Teletubbies. Yes, music was at the core of our early education and most of us not only look back fondly on these lessons, but still have the tunes stuck in our brains.

Not only is music educational, it's also therapeutic. According to the American Music Therapy Association, music therapy can promote wellness, manage stress, alleviate pain, express feelings, enhance memory, improve communication, and promote physical rehabilitation.

Without question, music is fundamental.

The Music Room in Palatine is helping promote wellness and development by refurbishing and donating instruments for the developmentally disabled clients of Clearbrook in Arlington Heights. These instruments will help with improving behavior, socialization, and reducing aggression.

So if you've got some instruments in your closet gathering dust from another lifetime, give them new life by donating them to The Music Room. Your gift may just open new doors for people with few doors open to them and change their lives.


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