Music and Healing: Progress Towards Elysium
Wilson, Catherine Elizabeth
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This dissertation explores some of the many roles music, as a healing and nurturing art, plays in support of health and wellness. The fundamental question is how does music nurture, revive, animate, and inspire us to lead healthier and richer lives? Historical and modern sources, ranging from ancient philosophical works to reports of laboratory-based investigations, suggests that music is a remarkably positive and therapeutic element in the development of happier, healthier individuals, and well-adjusted societies. This study is the outcome of three deeply personal impulses: a) the experience of one who has personally benefited from music as a healing balm; b) the performer's desire to better understand the positive reactions, both emotional and physical, of audiences to specific musical selections and genres; and c) growing evidence that society is weakened and dulled (nor can foot feel, being shod) by the loss of the collective experience of live music due to the proliferation of digital technologies that facilitate access to a complexity of recorded music choices. There is compelling scientific documentation that experience listening to and creating live music when very young is especially beneficial. If the positive seeds of music are not planted in youth, the continued disintegration of the long-standing cultural musical institutions that serve a vital role in maintaining the social fabric is threatened. The dissertation documents the authors own response to the diminution of opportunities for participation in live music: the establishment of Euterpe, a non-profit charitable organization that presents live interactive classical and jazz performance programs for children in the public school system. The work is captured and analyzed in several ways: video recordings; art work produced by the children during Euterpe programs, and analysis extracted from previously published Qualitative Research Studies which were designed by leading scientific researchers in the field.