Eight Healing Effects of Dance & Music Therapy

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“One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain” Bob Marley

music therapy


Music and dancing play a big part in everyone’s lives. This is because they help to release endorphins in our brain that make us feel happy and relaxed. How many times has your face lit up when your favourite song comes on the radio?

There is a science behind the perfect beat. Pharrell’s smash hit “Happy” is a prime example. The song is at 128BPM, which is proven to be just the right tempo to get people out of their chairs and onto the dance floor that goes to show that “motion is lotion.”music therapy

Music is also used as a way to combat the effects of various medical conditions. Group music therapy is an effective way to stimulate neurological activity in patients who are suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

This might sound like wishful thinking, but it really is true. The music stimulates the production of dopamine and serotonin endorphins – which are diminished in the brains of people suffering from Parkinson’s.


Eight Examples Of Where Music Can Heal Or Promote Health


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1) Music and the Mind


Have you ever noticed how music can remind you of a specific time and place? It can induce feelings of happiness and nostalgia as well as many other positive or negative emotions.

David C. Rubin is a specialist in autobiographical memory and oral traditions. In his ground-breaking book Memory in Oral Traditions, he explains how epic stories like Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey were passed down verbally using poetic devices. Before the narratives could be written down, they were chanted or sung. Oral tradition depended on memory.


2) Music And The Body – Dance Is Therapy


We all know “motion is lotion” and that there is a rise of sedentary behaviours. This trend is caused by technology and a decline in manual jobs. Dance can combat the effects of a sedentary lifestyle. Dance movement therapy is the therapeutic use of movement to improve your emotional, physical, and cognitive well-being.

Bear that in mind the next time you are strutting your stuff around the house or in a club! Dance has been fundamental to human life and culture since the time of our earliest ancestors. It is a form of expression and way to bring people together. By the turn of the 20th century, the potential for dance to promote healthy growth and change was also recognised.

This recognition occurred thanks to the popularity of expressive forms of dancing, plus the acceptance that mental and physical well-being are linked. Dance movement therapy emerged as a profession in the U.S. in the 1960’s. By the 1970’s, it had reached Australia and is now practiced all over the world.


3) Sound Healing


Sound has been utilized in various cultures for thousands of years as a tool for healing. Whether through the use of mantras as with the Hindis, the medicine melodies of various Indigenous peoples from Central and South America, or Pythagoras’ use of interval and frequency, these various techniques all have the same intention: to move us from a place of imbalance to a place of balance.


4) There Is Science to the Songs We Love


Consider how you feel after a good boogie on the dance floor or dropping into a heartfelt song? Scientific research has attempted to find the ultimate ear worm.

music therapyScientists behind the study said “If you look at the songs which emerged from the research, such as “We Will Rock You” by Queen and “Happy” by Pharrell, they all have a distinctive rhythmic fingerprint. If we remove the melody, they’re still recognisable by their rhythm alone.”

The formula is expressed as Receptiveness + (predictability-surprise) + (melodic potency) + (rhythmic repetition x 1.5) = ear worm. The most addictive ear worm was named as the aforementioned ‘We Will Rock You’ with Queen having three songs in the Top 20 alongside ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and ‘We Are The Champions.’ ‘Jingle Bells’ was the oldest song in the list.


5) How Can DJ’s Manipulate Our Body To Move Through Sound?


People are very good at moving in time to a beat. When you listen to your favourite song, you will probably find yourself nodding your head or tapping your foot along almost instinctively. DJs rely on a formula that causes the music to ebb and flow, building to a peak before winding down as the night comes to a close. In clubs, people will move in time to the music, which creates uniform patterns of movement.

In football stadiums, the crowd will often become excited and start to bounce up and down together. A crowd moving together has developed a common beat between them. In this case, however, rather than just sound, they are also taking visual cues from the people behind them.


6) Dancing Is Tribal Togetherness


That feeling of togetherness then leads people to lose their inhibitions. This is exactly what a lot of young people look for in dance music. That combines with the music to focus a group of people on a common stimulus. The Atlantic cites media theorist Dr. Douglas Rushkoff, who explains in his book E: The Incredibly Strange History Of Ecstasy. He says that “the music, lighting and ambiance [of a club] are all fine-tuned to elicit and augment altered states of consciousness.
The rhythm of the music is precisely 120 beats per minute, the frequency of the fetal heart rate, and the same beat believed to be used by South American shamans to bring their tribes into a trance state.”
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7) Dance The Pain Away


“While acute pain appears in areas of the brain that are connected to tissue damage, chronic pain lives in other areas of the brain—the prefrontal cortex and limbic system, which the brain uses for memories, especially emotional ones,” says Martin Rossman, M.D., director of The Healing Mind and a pioneer in mind-body medicine.

“In some cases, the pain lives on long past the time when the body tissues have healed.”

“Everything is ultimately vibration, so anything that’s physical is basically made up of these fundamental wave forms,” says David Simon, MD, co-founder and CEO of the Deepak Chopra Center for Well-being and author of numerous books on integrated medicine.

“If there’s something creating distress in that form, on some level we can see it as dissonance in the vibration. So all healing is really the restoration of harmony, and there are various ways to re-establish harmony.” Ayurvedic medicine, an ancient holistic system originating in India, teaches that if we introduce a healing vibration, it will set up a certain resonance or harmonic effect on whatever is disharmonious or dissonant.

This resonance in turn provides the memory of harmony, which helps the imbalanced or disharmonious state to recall its previously harmonious state.

With that, ayurvedic medicine teaches, comes the restoration of wholeness and health, thus the ancient chanting traditions of many cultures around the world. Dance is an especially powerful form of healing vibrations, Simon emphasizes, “because it’s not just sound; it’s actually rhythmic movement. So it has an effect not only on the gross level of the muscles, nerves, skeletal system, and neuromuscular system, but also at a cellular level. Dancing creates a kind of heartbeat. If it’s a resonant heartbeat, it harmonizes every cell in the body.”

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8) Music Therapy And Degenerative Neurological Diseases


Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurological disorder involving the progressive degeneration of the dopaminergic system. This gives rise to movement-related dysfunctions (such as bradykinesia, tremor, and rigidity) as well as other symptoms, mainly of cognitive and psychological nature.

As we discussed earlier, movement-based therapy is emerging as an effective tool in the fight against Parkinson’s. Therefore, interventions that involve music can offer important starting points in PD rehabilitation, combating motor and non-motor symptoms.

What do you think about how dance and music can impact our health? Head over to our Facebook page and tell us!


128: The Magic Number

Neurological Music Therapy Helps People With Parkinson’s Disease

Memory In Oral Traditions

What Is Dance Movement Therapy?

Pythagorean Scale

Smart DJs Use Maths To Mix The Perfect Beat

Martin Rossman, M.D., on Scientific Reasons for Natural Pain Relief through Dance

Altered Mental State

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