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Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.
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The Pleasure, Beauty and Power of Music

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: Nov 11th 2010

The Pleasure, Beauty and Power of MusicHow many times have you found yourself walking down a street humming a tune to yourself, or singing as loud as you can while you're in the shower? How many times has a tune played in your head so that you can "hear" it in your mind, and how often have you sat in your car, listening to music while your entire body moved with the beat of the music? These things happen to all of us. In fact, some of us feel somewhat embarrassed when we are caught tapping out a tune, but that only adds to the fun. Music is a natural part of being alive on our planet. In every society in every part of the world, from the distant past until the present, some form of music exists.

Research has shown that listening to music has the power to heal. Listening to calm, restful music relieves stress and pehaps even mild depression.

Music is an important tool in the hands of a music therapist working with severe Alzheimers patients. These demented patients who seem to be unreachable respond to music. Old, familiar tunes from their generation and from their cultural background stimulates something deep in the brains of these tragic people. One music therapist told me how elderly people, lost in their dementia, will start humming or even singing along when she plays music rooted in their background. Something so deeply nostalgic is aroused that it is able to slip through even Alzheimers disease.

It is important to keep in mind that there is no such thing as good or bad music. Noise to the ears of one person is an exciting and arousing experience to another. People have different tastes and interests in music. These tastes can range from classical cantatas to jazz, rock-n-roll, rap and whatever the latest happens to be.

Tastes in music is also a generational phenomenom. What parents find distasteful, teenagers find exciting. Part of this generation tension is partly rooted in the need for young people to rebel. What better way to rebel than by having different music and dances from their "old fashioned" parents. However, if parents are going to be really honest with themselves, they will admit that the new music has them humming along.

Music is not necessarily calming and soothing. It can arouse our deepest passions and erotic sensations. After all, military history all around the world has armies marching along to the sway of powerful and nationalistic chords and sounds. Music reaches into our very beings and evokes emotions such as pride, sorrow, tragedy, aggression, sweetness, romance and excitement. This is why Hollywood movies are always accompanied by music that fits the themes of the story.

When young and old go to a concert, club, hall, or just sit at home listening to their stereo systems, music transports them to another world and away from the worries and stresses of the present.

This is why its important for all of us to put aside some time to listen. Its a healthy escape and its wonderful. Don't let anyone tell you that what you are listening to is terrible. Just like my little four year old daughter told me many decades ago, "We all have different taste buds, daddy." What wisdom from one so very young. I remember it to this day. Turn on your music and enjoy.

Be sure, if you are listening with ear phones, to protect your hearing by keeping a reasonable volume of sound.

Your comments are strongly encouraged.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD


Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

Readers who live in the Boulder, Colorado metro area, or in Southwest Florida may contact Dr. Schwartz for face-to-face consultation. He is also available for psychotherapy through Skype video for those who are not in Florida or Colorado. He can be reached via email at for details.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

Absolutely agree - Athena - Nov 14th 2010


I totally agree with you.  And I wanted to share this clip of 10 year old Jackie Evancho, from America's got Talent.  It is truly inspirational.  The link:


loved the article - danni - Nov 13th 2010

I did research for my masters thesis in this area.   I get really excited when I see others also recognizing the power of music  :)  Thanks!

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