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Music: Mind and Movement

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Music: Mind and Movement

If only there were a way to make life easier. Parents who mean well are telling us to “think for ourselves,” but often have little or no idea how to keep our minds from recycling constant concerns, unnecessary worries, destructive ideas, and negative images. Teachers are excellent at teaching us algebra and conjugating French verbs, but there has yet to be any class in the curriculum to teach us how to handle depression, let go of anger, or how to communicate with others effectively. A lot of people are quick to tell us how we “should” behave, what we “ought” to think, and which attitudes we “must” have, as if we had no choices. They put the emphasis on avoiding their mistakes or they want us to relive their triumphs. Society wants us to plan for the future instead of living here and now, today, at this moment. Our society values “hanging on” to troubles and frowns on “letting go” of them. It reinforces “trying” and “doing” and totally ignores simply “being.” We learn to complicate simplicity and fear silence. There are few things in our world that direct our minds to increased comfort. Music, however, allows people to “tune in” to their hearts and achieve harmony in their lives. It is so powerful that it can affect us physically and therefore emotionally and mentally.

When I was twelve, the Blues took control of my mind and heart. From that moment on, music provided a place where I could go to share feelings or to escape from reality. Soon, it was my best friend, another world of happiness. The tunes I listened to would relieve stress, make me feel happy, and allow me to let go and be myself. Maybe it was that the person who wrote or recorded those songs had similar feelings or shared similar concerns. Problems became less overwhelming when I knew other people were there with similar experiences. Those people, whom I never met, have made and communicated a sense of purpose through rhythm and harmony, that most adults I know would never be able to get across through lectures and rituals. Music had awakened my awareness. It never pushed from behind, but rather pulled me forward and it challenged me without threatening. Color and meaning were added to my world. Music, in my eyes, had become a powerful source of influence and I could see how it altered people, even the pace of their lives.

When dropping by the store for the weekly necessities, people pass the irresistible smell of fresh bread and the aisle with all the yummy snack foods. Dozens of small conversations support the atmosphere’s laid-back vibe. The footsteps synchronize to the pulse of the music playing in the background. Some people think music as background noise, is something that just takes place while they respond to the more important responsibilities. Many people do not realize how the powerful effects of music and sound engage our thoughts, moods, and behaviors. For example, who realizes that there is music playing while they are wandering around grocery stores? Not too many realize that, usually, the faster the tempo of the music that is playing, the faster we tend to walk through the store, choose our groceries, and head for the check-out counter (Ortiz). The music that “just happens” to be playing in the background is carefully selected by experts, who specialize in regulating these environments for the purpose of influencing our moods (Ortiz). Grocery store music is soothing and gives us a sense of comfort and relaxation. Furthermore, music provides the store with a positive atmosphere and a set tempo that slows us down, allowing us to take our time, and maybe purchase more than we expected.

The power some music has to persuade us into a deep state of relaxation has been strongly supported by research studies dating back from the early 1900’s. I.M. Hyde, in 1924, studied pulse rate and blood pressure in response to music. From her experiments, she found that people are affected psychologically and physiologically by music that is harmonic and rich in tone. She suggests that relaxing music benefits the cardiovascular system, endurance, and muscle tone. By aiding all these, a state of peace, calm and relaxation is obtained.

“Nature seeks the most efficient energy state, and it takes less energy to pulse in cooperation than in opposition.” George Leonard describes the theory of entrainment, a way of synchronizing two rhythms, beats, even people, to a comfortable state of mind and relaxation. The two rhythms become in tune or in sync and come to a comfortable relationship. In other words, the closer we allow ourselves to bond with someone else’s rhythm, the better we will be able to understand the individual. Entrainment is a pacing and a progressing harmony of a combination of individuals. Musically, entrainment is a joining, mentally, to the pulse of the music and to the essential

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