Grateful dead drummer Mickey hart was the featured guest of PBS NewsTime during the weekend. Rather than promoting their own tour with Death & Company, however, the Rhythm Devil appeared to be discussing their trio of drones and how they work to heal people with music.
In May, Hart and the Indian classical virtuoso Zakir Hussein have teamed up to create Sound awareness: drones for the sonic bath, a new drone music project. The two longtime collaborators also teamed up with the opera star. Renee flemming expand the set to proliferate cognitive music therapy.
“Music and medicine go back as far as history goes, you know, shamanism, people made a living from that,” Hart told the PBS correspondent. Mike Merce.
The trio is just one part of the ever expanding study of the healing powers of music. While the link between music and health has been explored for centuries, the past two decades have seen medical professionals finally take a serious look at the link with clinical studies seeking to quantify the data.
One of these institutions is the Its Health Network to University of California San Francisco. The network is a collaboration with scientists from National Institutes of Health, and artists of the National Foundation for the Arts, and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
“So one thing that I have noticed in all the musical experiences that I have had is that when you listen to a musical stimulus and you look at the brain while you listen to it, the whole brain is really engaged. Music is a powerful stimulus for the brain. Dr Charles Limb, co-director of the Sound Health Network, said.
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Daniel Levitin, neuroscientist from McGill and Stanford universities, music composer and bestselling author of This is your brain on the music, studies the effects of music therapy on cognitive brain function, with an emphasis on its benefits for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other degenerative brain diseases.
“In Parkinson’s disease, music is useful because it sets a beat or a tempo and often Parkinson’s patients cannot walk because they are frozen,” Levitin said. “And the music gives them a boost that makes the neurons in their brains in the basal ganglia, the cerebellum, the motor action centers, synchronize with the tempo. And it helps them to start walking and keep walking. You can’t fix broken neural connections, but you can make new ones. Every time you learn something new, there are new neural pathways. Practicing an instrument, learning an instrument, develops these paths.
Hart has seen firsthand the healing effects of music on patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
“My grandmother had Alzheimer’s disease, and she was fainting and she hadn’t spoken for three or four years, and I started playing the drums and she was smiling, you know, the best she could. ‘she could. And then she said my name, ”Hart said. “It was a surprising find and it kind of turned on my light.”
Hart’s work on the medical nature of music dates back to long before Healthy consciousness. The drummer worked with the UCSF neurologist Dr Adam Gazzaley use digital mapping techniques to determine what type of music is best for treating damaged parts of the brain, often using itself as a test subject.
“My brain, you know, has a central rhythm,” Hart said. “So to see how he reacted to certain rhythms, strong, soft, fast or slow was a revelation.”
Even with all of his medical research, Hart will always go ahead and keep his day job.
“So, ‘Dr. Hart, ‘Do you take Medicare payments at your performances for all of us,’ Cerre asked jokingly.
“Oh yeah. Well, you know, in many states, doctors can write a script for music therapy, so it’s not far from music that can be prescribed,” Hart observed.
Watch the full PBS NewsTime segment featuring Mickey Hart on the healing nature of music via the player below.
PBS NewsTime – Inside the effort to make music that heals
[Video: PBS NewsHour]