Impacts of Music and Music Therapy


Master guitar students practice on the steps during class.

Lydia Cusick, Staff Writer

“The point of music is for people to connect with themselves and others more; because of this, people become better individuals and they can learn more about themselves,” said Vincent Martini, music director of the Guitar & Contemporary Music Ensembles at Vista del Lago High School. “Music is the most powerful art form and it digs into human condition because you can create sound that expresses human emotions.”

But now we know that music not only helps people to learn more about themselves, it can also help them academically.

According to a study by Nina Kraus, director of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University School of Communication, “Musical training in high school can strengthen a teen’s hearing and language skills, and improve academic performance.”

Students in music class may not realize that music can improve these skills, but in order to benefit from music, students need to actively participate and be engaged in the music. “It is only through the active generation and manipulation of sound and music that can rewire the brain,” Kraus said. In other words, having music on in the background will not make you smarter.

Music therapy is also beneficial for brain development in special-needs students. “Music therapy is when there is one-on-one time with the therapist and the student. This helps to achieve goals with the student, such as communication goals,” said Elizabeth Sutami, the special education teacher at Vista.

There are music therapy classes offered at Vista, and Sutami has seen this help her students in a variety of ways including communication, learning, and stress relief. “It is easier for my students to do work after they listen to music, and it helps those that don’t talk to communicate,” said Sutami.

Music therapy is “often used with people who have disabilities or illness, but the healing benefits of music can be enjoyed by anyone and at any age,” according to an article by the University of New Hampshire. “The process of making and listening to music can provide a channel for communication and expression that may go beyond what is easily expressed in words.”

Music in general is used for many different issues. It helps with “stress relief to mental, emotional and behavioral problems. It has been shown to help treat depression and anxiety,” according to the article by the University of New Hampshire.

Many students at Vista play and listen to music for these reasons, but also because they personally enjoy it.

“Playing a musical instrument is important to me because it helps me relieve some of my stress,” said Rishab Chatty, a sophomore at Vista who has been playing violin for six years.

Students often use music to relieve stress and help with anxiety, but in addition, it is a great way for them to communicate with others in a way that is both better and in a different

“It’s easier for me to communicate with others through music than actually talking to people,” said Dylan Bello, a sophomore at Vista del Lago who takes Master Guitar.

“There are several languages throughout the world… and music is basically like a language that can be shared throughout every single place in the world. It doesn’t matter what you speak as long as you understand music–which basically almost everyone does–then you can speak it too,”  said Bello.

Music appeals to human emotion, benefits brain development and academic performance, and helps people to express themselves. Music also helps people to communicate with others because it is a universal language that everyone can enjoy and use.