A Power Never Lost
By Angela Shaw
When this article posts, Hurricane Irma may be a distant memory. But I have a hunch that for most Floridians, the ordeal will not be soon forgotten–especially the prolonged loss of power for 65% of us.
While I was among the fortunate 35% who never lost electricity, I’m quick to remember Hurricanes Jeanne, Francis and Wilma which brought lengthy outages (over 10 days). Our house became a sauna, and ‘camping’ routines immediately commenced. We cooked on the grill, hung laundry outside, and took cold tubs to beat the heat.
There’s no question that electricity is a necessity in this hothouse of a state. Not only do our bodies melt, but the interiors of our dwellings are damaged by constant moisture–and this is a fact for eight months out of the year.
Irma reminded us how important power is. How distressing the loss of it can be.
As a musician and art lover, I’ve noticed another power that is equally essential to our well being–and if lost, would deprive us of a wide spectrum of comfort and relief. The week after the hurricane, I was working at home teaching piano, when I noticed otherwise cranky family members emerge from their rooms with faces absolutely transformed. There was a brightness–a look of peace. I observed then and there how the mere sound of melody can soothe jagged nerves and calm agitated tempers. Hence, the power of music.
This is no surprise to most, but bears repeating. An entire field of study is dedicated to this phenomenon. Medical institutions harness Music Therapy regularly in their emotional and psychological recovery regimens.
Musicandmemory.org says: “…music…brings out the good in everybody. Favorite songs have the power to uplift the spirit, tap into lost memories and foster meaningful relationships.
President and CEO of Cobble Hill Health Center in Brooklyn, New York, Tony Lewis points out that music is much more effective than expensive mood altering medications. In addition, there’s no need for pages of side effect disclaimers.
We’ve experienced firsthand what life is like without electricity. But what would it be like without music? It would be a beige, treeless desert, a one dimensional existence. There would be no earbuds pumping favorite vibes, nothing to work or dance to. No songs, bands or orchestras. Self-expression would lose its aural creative vehicle. That would be a true disaster and real sustained loss.
Besides losing a major mood enhancer, without music our minds would suffer too.
Studies show that musicians have more symmetrical brains than non-musicians. The areas that are responsible for motor control, auditory processing and spatial coordination function better. Musicians also have a more developed corpus callosum, which is the band of nerve fibers that enables the two hemispheres to interact with each other.
With all those smarts waiting to be had, we should each go out and take up an instrument. And why not? Now that we have power, a hot shower and cool air, why not get down to the business of living and improving our quality of life; of taking advantage of the opportunity to make music?
The benefits are as close as a strum on a guitar, a stroke on piano keys or a puff into a recorder. The healing power of music is—literally—at our fingertips.