The ear and our sense of sound is a powerful medium to connect us to our inner self and world. It is the first sense we get when we are young, and the last to go when we enter altered states of consciousness. Think of your alarm going off in the morning, or hearing the nurses’ voice when you wake up in recovery. How do you feel when you hear your favourite song, or the one that reminds you of a loved one? Music can drum up very strong positive and negative emotions, and this complementary therapy taps into that power.
Sound healing may still be in the realm of alternative medicine, but today the use of music therapy is recognised by the academic community. Music therapy courses are offered at many mainstream universities and continuing research in the field demonstrates its feasibility as a complementary therapy.
Sound healing – wait isn’t that Shamanism?
Yes – and no. Sound healing had developed from Shamanism and many different cultures traditional healing systems. Sound healing has been used in a myriad of cultural practices and belief systems, and the concept that the sound of music, vibration and singing can bring us closer to wellbeing can be found in many settings. Sound is everywhere: think of mantras, chanting, hymns, songs, rhythms and even a cat’s purr.
Is there a difference between Sound Healing and Music Therapy?
There is a difference between sound healing and music therapy. Sound healing uses specific frequencies and harmonics that are said to heal the body. Music therapy uses a cacophony of frequencies and harmonies that trigger an emotional response. There is a hierarchy of different sound types:
Sound healing is taught as a component of some tertiary music therapy courses. Music therapy has been legitimated by academic research and continues to be integrated into many different clinical areas. The benefits of both music and sound therapy are that they are enjoyable, can often be done in the comfort of the home and can be easily accessed by individuals.
Can persons with a hearing impairment benefit?
For persons with hearing impairment, music therapy is said to train and expand the use of residual hearing. Music therapy can also become a social experience for people who may be socially isolated because of their communication disability. Sound therapy has been described as a workout for your ears and could increase hearing capabilities. Both of these fields as used in healing arts are relatively new and more research is being conducted into their effectiveness as complementary therapies.
This article was written by Alexandra Matkevich, RN. Alex has an interest in complementary therapies and new developments in patient care.
If you have a concern about your hearing or your childs’ hearing, make an appointment to see an ear nose and throat specialist.