The Mindful Use of Music
10 Mar 16
Background music is used in many settings. In many facilities, it is used to fill in the silences between meals and programs. Naomi Ziv of the College of Management Academic Studies in Rishon LeZion, Israel, and her colleagues showed, in a Journal of Music Therapy study, that background music is associated with an increase in positive behaviors — laughing, smiling, talking — a decrease in negative ones, including aggressiveness and crying. She says “What is the difference between background music and music chosen for specific programming?” “When we hear familiar and preferred music, we mentally follow it,” she said. “It seems that whereas general memory deteriorates in dementia, memory for music remains relatively intact.” There are several considerations to make in the choice of background music, because music often sets the tone for the environment we want to create. The following criteria do not name music selections; rather, they set an outline for considerations of a mindful choice of music.
- Check the Tempo
To create an environment that is calm, use slower music. To create a busier environment, choose faster music. Music which is 60 beats a minute, mimics the resting heart rate, and helps to lower blood pressure. Conversely, fast music raises blood pressure and the heart rate.
- Check Check Check – Genre, Volume, Frequency and Timbre
It is important to shape the musical environment carefully. Consider the genre of music, as well as volume, frequency and timbre. Familiar music often triggers people to follow along mentally. Unfamiliar music can catch the attention of the listener or be distracting. If the music starts out soft and builds in intensity or has a sudden burst of volume, it can be very hard on the ears of the listeners. Weigh the music’s frequencies as well. People with hearing loss may be aggravated if they cannot hear the music (frequency is too low), or may become agitated if the frequencies become too high. Pay attention to the timbre as well. Timbre refers to the quality of sound that distinguishes one voice or instrument from another. Timbre may range anywhere from dull to lush, from dark to bright (think drums vs flutes)
- Assess the Situation
Not all situations are conducive to playing background music. Check the circumstances before deciding whether or not to play music. Background music may add a sense of calm to a setting. Conversely, it can add to a feeling of overstimulation.
- Check the Memory Quotient
Music is a powerful tool. Sometimes it brings up powerful memories.Be aware, that not all memories music brings back are positive Be aware of peoples’ musical histories as well so that the music played will be relevant and manageable.
- Check the Content
Music can shift mood, manage stress-induced agitation, stimulate positive interactions, and facilitate cognitive function, when used appropriately. Once again, it is important to know the audience before the background music is chosen.
Clements-Cortes, A., Pearson, C., & Chang, K. (2015). Creating Effective Music Listening Opportunities. Toronto, Ontario: Baycrest, www.baycrest.org/care/culture-arts-innovation/therapeutic-arts/music-therapy/creating-effective-music-listeningopportunities