Rita Young Allen, Ms. Alabama Sr. America 2017!
The Melody of Hope
Women in Labor
Music as Prevention
Deep Breathing Healing
Nervous System Patients
Music Color Therapy techniques can ease pain, calm hearts and strengthen spirits! This
workshop can focus on any aspect of these areas, or touch on all of them. The Melody of Hope is designed to give hope
to these areas of life which can be very daunting. It is meant to give new information and great encouragement in dealing
with life. Contact Rita to discuss your workshop or keynote on The Melody of Hope.
"The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man's determination."
Over 2,000 years ago, the ancient Greeks assigned a musician as well as a physician to those who were sick.
They believed the musician could bring back the harmony of the body which would allow the healing to take place. This
idea was given a strong boost of credibility in 1980 when Dr. Helen Bonny, a musician, psychologist and music therapist used
music to recover from persistent angina and triple bypass surgery. She felt certain that music could heal more than
just the mind. She believed that music could help patients recover from serious physical illnesses. She used her
own illness to test her theory. After surgery, while in the coronary care unit, Dr. Bonny used her favorite classical
music to relax and tune out everything else. After recovery, she convinced two hospitals to participate in a pilot study.
For six months they played her tapes in the coronary and intensive care units. Heart rates and blood pressure were monitored
before and after listening to music. "Everyone, even our staff, was amazed by the results," said cardiologist Raymond
Bahr, director of St. Agnes' coronary care unit. "We saw a marked reduction in anxiety and extra heart beats and (recorded)
lower blood pressures and pulse rates." The music worked so well that the anesthetist asked if the tapes could
be played during surgery to reduce anxiety. After playing the music through the public address system, it was reported
that anesthesia requirement dropped by as much as 50%!
Researchers do not fully understand music's magic. Dr. Bonny believes music is so powerful because it
has the ability to touch the emotions. "Music is the language of emotion," she says. Rhythm is a factor in the
effect music has physiologically. When using music therapy to aid those who are sick or depressed, therapists use music
with a regular rhythm (close to that of the resting heart rate) with no extremes in pitch or dynamics. "Sedative music,"
as this is called, makes no demands on the patient. It totally supports them.
On September 11, 2001, Congress united a nation by singing, "God Bless America" on the front steps of the
Capitol Building. The act spoke many things: "unite, heal, remember, hope, look to the future, don't be afraid,
find strength, and endure." Through the history of the world, music has held a powerful position. In 1939 Britain
declared war with Germany and all the theaters and concert halls were closed. Dame Myra Hess, a pianist, organized lunchtime
concerts by Britain's best musicians. For the next four years, amidst heavy bombing, 1,300 concerts were held uniting
the city and calming the people. In 1992 Yugoslavia was at war. Food was scarce and people were hungry.
Late one afternoon, a shell fell on a long bread line killing 22 people. For the next 22 days, Vedran Smailovic, a cellist
who had played for the Sarajevo Opera before the war, left his apartment, dressed in formal attire. He seated himself
beside the hole left by the mortar shell and played music in memory of the dead while the war raged all around him.
He was never injured. For all those souls hiding in the city's cellars, he became a symbol of hope, courage and life!
Most people do not realize how great an impact music has on our everyday lives. Doris Soibelman, author
of Therapeutic and Industrial Uses of Music, says that almost every organ in the body responds to music. It can
create changes in metabolism, circulation, blood volume, pulse, blood pressure, and moods. It can cause us to cry, laugh
and worship God. The most noted example in the Bible was when Saul would have an evil spirit come upon him, he would
call for David to play upon his harp. The evil spirit would then depart.
Dr. Mitchell L. Gaynor, author of The Healing Power of Sound: Recovery from Life-Threatening Illness Using
Sound, Voice, and Music writes how he no longer sees a contradiction between music and chemotherapy, or between
visualization and radiation. He is a strong advocate for holistic medicine which also includes therapies, nutritional
supplements and energy. Dr. Gaynor earned one of the best educational foundations in western medicine, but he realized
something was missing, the psychology and spirituality that was needed for his patients to be treated as whole human
beings. He was taught, as were all other students of medical school, that you "can't get too involved with the patients."
No one ever encouraged him to empathize with his patients. It was of no great concern that many of these patients brought
with them their anguish and joy, their fear and hope, past traumas and future ambitions. The frustration was too great
for him as he watched the more seasoned oncologists where he did his post-residency training deliver the diagnosis of, "You'll
very likely experience hair loss, nausea, vomiting, and/or fatigue. You will also probably need a blood transfusion.
The statistics tell us that most people live three to four months with your type of cancer. I'll see you in two weeks
to start chemotherapy." It was amazing to Dr. Gaynor how these highly skilled doctors could simply screen out the patient's
devastation after such news.
Dr. Gaynor found that by including music therapy, in just a few sessions he could see a shift in patient perspective
that usually took a year to two to accomplish without sound. He had previously come to understand that sickness is a
manifestation of the body out of harmony. It could be an imbalance in the cells or in a given organ.
The use of music to heal is a rapidly growing discipline. Although there is not a clear understanding
as to how music works, the healing effects of music have been found and documented throughout our history. It can be
the channel to heal physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. In my opinion, we have not even scratched the
surface of the power of music!
Click here for some sweet music for health!!
Cancer patients at the University of Rochester Medical Center... a study was done with 42 patients who had undergone bone
marrow transplants. 23 of the patients were provided music after their transplants while a control group of 19 received
standard follow-up treatment. The patients ranged from age 5 to 65. The 23 patients met twice a week for music
relaxation and imagery. They reported that their pain was significantly reduced. Not only did their new bone marrow
take hold faster, but they suffered significantly less nausea than the group without music. The music group also began
producing their own white blood cells in 13.5 days while it took the other group 15.5 days. Even though this is only
two days, it is a very crucial time and is most significant because this time period is when the patients are most vulnerable
to infection. Music for these cancer patients made a significant difference.
Music plays a very important part throughout life, but it plays a vital part with the terminally ill. When death
is imminent, it often seems that the intactness or wholeness begins to slip away. Patients sometimes feel abandoned,
helpless and powerless. When this stage approaches, the focus of treatment shifts from simply meeting their physical
needs to a much broader care which includes the physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Music therapy has been investigated
for use with terminally ill patients and found that the patients do experience it emotionally, physically and spiritually.
Music therapy stimulates multisensory recollections of memories. These memories can be momentary or last over time.
Ultimately, the goal of music therapy with the terminally ill is to guide them to a place of peace in seeking for their rite
Patients are encouraged to participate in individual sessions primarily. When appropriate, they are also encouraged
to include families, close friends and even other patients in their sessions. A family music therapy session can facilitate
the stages of acceptance of death using music as a vehicle to verbalize emotions that may be difficult otherwise. For
example, Kevin, a 50-year-old male was married with three daughters, ages 17, 19 and 23. The entire family eagerly participated
in the music therapy sessions using music which evoked memories with excitement, enthusiasm, and sometimes sad emotion.
As Kevin's conditioned worsened, he became unable to express verbally. During one of his sessions, Kevin had asked that
"Danny Boy" be played at his death. Music therapy sessions continued several times a week until Kevin's death.
At death's imminence, the music therapist played "Danny Boy." Kevin passed away during the song. As Kevin's family
reflected on his death during subsequent bereavement visits, they expressed how grateful they were for the musical time with
Kevin and how it allowed Kevin to express deep inner feelings that may have otherwise remained silent. Bereavement Music
can give everyone concerned a centered peace that gently accommodates the passing of a loved one.
Women in Labor...
Over the last fifteen years, the positive effects of music therapy for women before and during labor has been established.
According to research done at an Austin, Texas medical center, 50% of women who listened to music during childbirth didn't
need any anesthesia. "Music stimulation increases endorphin release and this decreases the need for medication.
It also provides a distraction from pain and relieves anxiety." noted an author of the study. Women in labor who
listen to music significantly reduce the sensation of pain and emotional distress.
"The famous story is told about French physician Alfred Tomatis, M.D., who has been recognized by the French Academies
of Science and Medicine for his revolutionary research and clinical work in the area of hearing and sound. In the late
1960's, at a Benedictine monastery in the South of France, many of the monks were suffering from what appeared to be a rare
and undiagnosable illness. They were inexplicably exhausted, unable to perform their normal tasks. Yet none of
the doctors who had previously been consulted could shed any light on what might be the cause of this mysterious epidemic
Tomatis was invited to the monastery, and his opinion was sought regarding their ailment. As he described it, 'seventy
of the ninety monks were slumping in their cells like wet dishrags.' After examining the men and taking their histories,
he discovered what he believed to be the source of the problem. In the wake of the Vatican II reforms authorized
by the Catholic Church in the mid-60's, a young abbot, newly arrived at the monastery, had decreed that the brothers should
abandon their traditional practice of singing Gregorian chants six to eight hours each day and instead use the time for more
meaningful pursuits. Tomatis, who has been called "the Einstein of sound, " immediately surmised that the chanting had
functioned as a way to energize the monks by "awakening their field of consciousness." He suggested that they recommence
chanting; within five months the brothers were fully recovered from their lassitude and had resumed their regular routine,
which included only a very few hours of sleep."
Many authorities believe music can be used as preventive medicine, especially involving heart disease. Music can
keep us emotionally balanced. If we can keep ourselves emotionally balanced, that will certainly contribute to keeping
us physically healthy. Southern Methodist University's Dr. Mark Rider says heart patients can gain great benefit from
toning (a form of singing) for 15 to 20 minutes a day. He says, "It activates deep breathing patterns that are good
for the heart, opens up the vasculature, lowers the heart rate and blood pressure, and it's wonderfully relaxing." Dr.
Bahr also believes that music can prevent heart disease because it reduces stress. He says music will give you
"clarity of thought." Daily facing the world in which we live, I would say we need clarity of thought, wouldn't you?
In music therapy, as well as singing, deep breathing is a vital technique rendering both physical health benefits as well
as the ability to produce sounds necessary in vocal music therapy. In shallow breathing, the diaphragm doesn't move
downward sufficiently so that the lungs are never completely filled. As a result, the lower portion of the lungs, which
are filled with tiny blood vessels that carry oxygen to our cells, receive very little oxygen. Our heart rate increases
and our blood pressure is elevated to compensate. Shallow breathing is also a signal to the body that it is in the "fight-or-flight"
state. This state is a natural reaction to stress which signals the body to go into overdrive. A daily lack of
oxygen can cause our bodies to become frozen in this chronic state. Over a period of time, this will create many disharmonies
in the body. The "fight-or-flight" state is very necessary when we are confronted with a real threat, but the body cannot
function efficiently when stuck in this state. Deep breathing is the key to breaking this cycle. When we begin
deep breathing, we signal our bodies that the danger is passed and body rhythms can normalize.
Drummer Dale Marcell has a group of 30 residents seated in a circle at the Winston Park nursing home. They are motionless.
Marcell places a drum, tambourine, bell or African gourd filled with beans, in their laps. He then beats out a lively
rhythm on his drum and the group comes alive! With big smiles on their faces, they are contributing band members.
After the music stops, the Alzheimer's patients sink back into the black hole of their disease.
The Harvard Health Letter dated December 2001 states that, "The singing Alzheimer's patient is both a commonplace and a
mystery." There is no solid explanation for how the patient who is in the severe, late stages of the disease is able
to sing, perform, keep time and stay in tune with a familiar song is played. At any other moment these patients are
totally unresponsive and unable to speak! After the music stops, the person disappears back into the dark hole of the
disease. There is also evidence that for those patients with mild-to-moderate dementia, there is greater recall when
background music is played.
For patients who have been neurologically damaged by strokes or by Parkinson's' disease, music has the ability to jog their
memories. Dr. Samuel Wong says, "It carries them like a bridge over devastated landscapes of the mind...and like stepping
stones into the territory lost." He attributes the wonderful power of sound to the fact that when in the womb there
is nothing but sound. Hearing is the only sense being perfected. Research has even shown that within 72 hours
of birth, an infant will recognize the voice of the mother. One of Dr. Wong's "musical miracles" is a man who was paralyzed
on one side by a stroke. His speech is very broken at best and many days he cannot form words at all. Yet, when
he sings, the lyrics come with almost no effort. When the music stops, he wrings his hands with frustration, because
the spoken words will not come. He is stuck again. He has come a long way since his stroke. Music for this
Parkinson's patient helped him regain his fluency, dignity and meaning to his compromised life.
Music acts as a catalyst for those who have motor problems. Even patients who can't walk have been known to stand
up from their wheelchairs and dance to a tune! A Parkinson's patient named Rosalie remained completely immobile for
hours, but when seated at the piano she would play beautifully. The disease seems to disappear as she plays with fluency
In a study conducted at the Woman's Hospital in Baton rouge in 1995, music was given to ten premature infants in an effort
to help soothe their labored breathing. These babies were 24 to 30 weeks from conception and resting in the intensive-care
unit. Researchers found that the ten infants who listened to music instead of only the hum of the medical room motors
not only had higher levels of oxygen in their blood but their heart rates and breathing rates were much closer to normal than
the ten infants with no music. Research indicated that newborns who were sung to and spoken to while in the neonatal
intensive care unit actually left the hospital three days earlier, digested more calories and gained more weight than a group
of infants who were not exposed to adult song or speech.