A Musical Break
By Judy Andreas

Music takes us out of the actual and whispers to us dim secrets that startle our wonder as to who we are, and for what,whence and whereto         - Ralph Waldo Emerson
The world is filled with injustice.  The world is filled with heartache.   Amidst the constant cries of crises, there are few places that offer respite.  Music is one such place.   The intervals between the notes provide rest for the weary soul.
Music therapist, Jean Maas has said:
"Music is the greatest power I have ever experienced.
I doubt if anything else equals its power to act upon
the human organism.
Even for those who take the trouble to think about it, music remains fairly much of a mystery.  You see, when we are dealing with music, we are not merely dealing with the energies of science nor with the art of mortal beings, we are dealing with a force greater than our finite minds can comprehend. Brahms said that when composing, he felt inspired by a power external to himself.  . This incredible mystery has exerted its influence throughout the ages. 
The civilizations of antiquity knew the value of music.  Both Plato and Socrates gained distinction as musicians and regarded the art as indispensable to the health of the soul.  It was used as a therapeutic tool by the ancient Chinese, Hindus, Persians, Egyptians and Greeks.  In the first book of Samuel, it is related that David freed Saul from an obsessive depression using music.  The Arabs of the 13th century had music rooms in their hospitals.
Paracelaus practiced what he called "musical medicine."   He used specific compositions for specific maladies, mental, moral and physical. .
In the healing Temples of Asclepius, the afflicted slept listening to the curative powers of music.
And today, music is till being used for its healing properties.  Don Campbell, author of "The Mozart Effect", a definitive work on the power of music to heal the body, strengthen the mind and unlock the creative spirit, has compiled some of the best of Mozart's music, specially selected to stimulate, inspire and harness maximum benefits for children.
Studies have shown that the music of Mozart has a powerful effect on the intellectual and creative development of children to:
·  increase verbal, emotional and spatial intelligence
·  improve concentration and memory
·  enhance right-brain, creative processes
·  strengthen intuitive thinking skills
Investigation has shown that music affects every part of the human being.  Even the neural networks of the brain have been found to be sensitive to harmonic principles.
The implications of these findings are vast.  Young people spend many hours plugged into rock music, rap music, heavy metal or whatever their drug of choice may be.  What are the possible effects on the heart, digestion, respiration, and emotional nature of this unsuspecting audience?  Soft eggs were taken to rock concerts and placed at the foot of the stage.   Midway through the concert, the eggs could be eaten hard-boiled !!!!  Do rock fans and their parents wonder what this same music might be doing to their bodies?  The Environmental Protection Agency in America has discovered that current generations of youth suffer from hearing problems associated with fifty and sixty year olds.
Many experiments have been conducted as to the effects of music upon non-human life.  In one experiment, conducted by psychologists, rats were able to run freely between two separate but connected boxes    Bach was piped into one box, while rock was piped into the other.  The rats all spent their time in the Bach box.  To test the purity of the experiment, the music was reversed.  Gradually, the rats relocated to the new Bach box.   (kind of a variation on "leaving the sinking ship, eh?)
Plant-music research has also been conducted.   Two independent series of experiments, one in the Soviet Union and the other in Canada, have discovered that seeds of wheat can be made to grow faster when treated with tones.   Another series of experiments showed that Bach's Brandenburg concertos made geraniums grow faster. 
Dr T. C. Singh, head of the Botany Department at Annamalia University, India, has also conducted research into the effects of music on plants. He discovered not only that constant exposure to classical music caused plants to grow at twice their normal speed, but also went on to find what seemed to be one of the main causes of this accelerated growth. The sound waves of a musical instrument, Dr Singh found, cause increased motion in cellular protoplasm. (Protoplasm is the basic material of which all plant - and animal and human - life is made up.) ....In Dr Singh's experiments, the violin was found to be one of the most life-enhancing instruments of all. Altogether, life-enhancing characteristics as a result of music were shown in balsam, sugar cane, onions, garlic, sweet potatoes and other plants besides. Yet, perhaps the most interesting and significant of all of Dr Singh's findings was that later generations of the seeds of musically stimulated plants carried on the improved traits of greater size, more leaves, and other characteristics. Music had changed the plants' chromosomes!
Confucius said "Music molds character".  It has the ability to build up or tear down.  According to the evidence presented by contemporary music therapy, good music does indeed appear to harmonize man's being and bring him into more healthy patterns of thought, feeling and action.
We live in a challenging universe and it grows more challenging each day. The world seems to be on the precipice of demise and one small push will send it over the edge.  We listen to the news and watch pictures of devastation in the Middle East.  The heartbreak is palpable. It is easy to succumb to despair.  Despair is not the answer.  And yet, if we do not pepper the darkness with spiritual upliftment, we are useless to ourselves and to others.  Music is my spiritual upliftment..  And, if only for a moment or an hour, I find myself soaring with the angels.
After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music - Aldous Huxley




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