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Home » How Music Can Heal Our Brain and Heart: Kathleen Howland (Transcript)

How Music Can Heal Our Brain and Heart: Kathleen Howland (Transcript)

Kathleen M Howland at TEDxBerkleeValencia

Full text of speech language and music therapist Kathleen Howland’s talk “How Music Can Heal Our Brain and Heart” at TEDxBerkleeValencia conference.


Kathleen Howland – Music therapist

Music therapy has ancient roots. It was Pythagoras who was first known to use music prescriptively for people’s emotional and physical maladies. Those ancient intuitions, which certainly would have been going on long before the time of the Greeks, had become the predecessors and the foundation for the modern practice of music therapy.

This practice has now been conjoined with neuroscience to help advance music-based interventions for diseases and disorders of a wide variety.

Have you ever stopped to wonder when we begin to respond to music?

It actually begins in the womb. Human responsiveness to music begins in the womb. In the last trimester of fetal life, baby is able to hear external sound. That sound comes through for speech and for music, and they’re able to detect the musical elements of both. So much so that they will respond differently to music and stories that they’ve heard previously than ones that are unfamiliar to them in novel.

This implies a memory capacity for the musical elements of speech and for music. In the first years of life, those musical distinctions will allow the child to learn speech and language.

For children who are born tone deaf, they are at a disadvantage in learning speech and language. And it actually will impair their reading abilities, down the road.

Currently in Boston, there are studies going on that identify the ability of three-year olds to tell the difference between (made two different sounds with her voice)

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