Are You Sensible? The Power of Touch, the Magic of Music

Did you know that touching zaps your immune system with positive energy? Similarly, your brain goes into party mode when you hear and/or play music – so say the researchers.

In this cropped photo, my sister Jan’s hand touches her Aunt Ruthie’s, who in turn is feeling the fake fur of a toy, who she may imagine to be her dog Fritzie.

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Touch is Powerful . . .

Dr. Dolores Krieger, professor of nursing at New York University, conducted numerous studies on the power of human touch. She discovered “that both the ‘toucher’ and the ‘touchee’ experience great physiological benefit from human contact. It works like this:

Red blood cells carry hemoglobin, a substance that transports oxygen to body tissue. And Dr. Krieger found that when one person lays hands on another, the hemoglobin levels in the blood stream of both people increase. And as they rise, body tissue receives increased oxygen, which invigorates you physically and can aid in the healing process. What you’re seeing is the literal power of love in action. Loving is good for you” There’s nothing as rewarding, satisfying, or encouraging as loving others through your words and actions.

Quoted in James Merritt, How to Impact and Influence Others

 

Touch is Powerful and so is Music!

 In a TED/Ed lesson, Anita Collins reports that listening to music engages multiple areas of one’s brain, but playing an instrument is “more like a full-body brain workout.”

She says if listening to music produces a party in the brain, picking up an instrument and playing it amounts to fireworks, a real jubilee!

What is it about producing music that totally lights up the brain? Collins mentions the physical activity of using fine motor skills (plucking a harp, blowing a trumpet) combined with the linguistic and mathematical skills in other brain areas, strengthens the connection between right and left hemispheres.

She even makes a connection between musicians and good search engines, an analogy she further explains in this 4+ minute YouTube presentation:

 

Music is Touching

Babies, newly minted from nature, love lullabies and nursery tunes. Likewise, music soothes the elderly and those of any age at the point of death. Haven’t you heard that hearing is the last sense to go?

My sister Jean, brother Mark, Mother’s pastor and wife sang my mother into glory with old gospel songs. I’m sorry I couldn’t make it in time to surround my mother’s bed with harmony.

Groups like Songs for the Journey, non-denominational and volunteer, provide a benevolent service to loved ones and patients alike as they make the transition from this life to whatever lies beyond. Quoting from their website, “Our live music ministries provide comfort and guidance to those who are near death, as well as to those who love them.”

 


 

Light up my brain with your comments please!

Thank you for checking in with thoughts on the power of touch or the value of music. What about your pets? How has touching furry friends benefitted you?

 

Something Silly

musicianwashedup1965

 

 

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Yodeling and Duets with Daddy

“Keep your hand upon the throttle and your eye upon the rail,” my Dad sings in his top-of–the-lungs baritone, the volume of his voice amplified by the force of his hands on the keyboard. Every Saturday night Daddy sits down at our mahogany Marshall and Wendell upright piano in the living room and reviews songs in his repertoire. Fresh air is blowing through the open windows. Probably the whole neighborhood can hear.

LifeIsLike

Now he’s moved on to other tunes: “Turn Your Radio On” and “On the Jericho Road, on the Jericho Road, there’s for just two—no more and no less, no more and no less, just Jesus and you, just Jesus and yooooo. . . .”

TurnRadioOnI’m in the dining room studying my ninth-grade Pennsylvania history. “Marian come in here and sing a little,” he begs.

“Oh maybe after a while,” I half-promise and flee to the kitchen where my mother is standing over the stove, making salmon casserole to put in the oven while we are at church tomorrow. Even washing gooey dishes looks more appealing to me than competing with my dad’s loud volume and heavy-handedness. He attacks the piano keys like he’s hammering a bent piece of metal at his shop.

YodelingDAD

Now Janice is walking in the door, and Dad pleads, “Come on, just sing the second verse.” He wants her to join him on the long piano bench that holds piles of family photos bulging from the compartment under its lid. She sits down with him for a little bit, and I hear a soprano with a lot of tremolo join in with Daddy’s lower notes on another song: “Under His wings, under His wings, Who from His love can se-ver? Under His wings my soul shall abide, Safely abide for-e-ver.”

There’s still another sister, and when Janice moves off the bench, Jean keeps the bench warm and Daddy happily singing “Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling.”

Now Daddy has moved away from the piano, gotten out his shiny Gibson guitar and starts yodeling. My sisters and I think he is acting goofy: “Yodel-ay-ee-oo, yodel-ay-ee-ooo,” he bellows out joyfully as he strikes the strings of his guitar.

flag  Click for yodeling audio

In spite of his noisy outbursts, I like the silky red cord attached to the instrument with its sunburst design veneer and the variety of colorful picks he’s accumulated. They remind me of funny-shaped tiddly-winks. Dad sure does like music. I don’t think he’d object to a piano at our church, which deems “it improper to employ instrumental music in worship and church activities.” (Article III, Section 2, Public Worship)

Last year at the beginning of eighth grade, Daddy came home and out of a clear blue sky presented me with a violin case. Looking as pleased as punch, he put the faux-leather textured black case on the dining room table, gesturing for me to open it.

“It’s for me?” I look puzzled but start to fiddle with the metal clasps on the case.

“What do you mean, is it for you? Of course, it’s for you. Why do ya think I put it here in front of you. I paid only $ 70.00 for it. Noah Klaus, up at the music store wanted more, but I told him that was my best offer. I wasn’t gonna let him horns-waggle me.”

Slowly I open the lid and see a gorgeous violin inside, a caramel-colored wooden instrument, its curvy shape tapering to a fancy scroll. I peer inside the S-shaped openings and see a paper tag with the label: Copy of Antonius Stradivarius / Handarbeit / Garmisch bei Mittenwald – Made in Germany.

“Now I want you to take lessons, so you can be in the orchestra at school. You play the piano pretty good. I don’t imagine a violin would be a whole lot harder.”

“Well, . . I don’t know about that,” I hear my voice trailing off.

I wonder why Daddy kept these plans and dreams for me to himself. I would have liked to go with him to the music store and have seen the other choices. Why does he always leave me out of decisions like this? He makes choices for me just like he plays the piano, loud and heavy-handed. Yet he seems so pleased with his purchase; I’m sure he imagines that I’m just as thrilled. Anyway, I start taking lessons from Mrs. Santeusanio.

violin

True to his inclination, mechanical themes ran through much of my Dad’s repertoire, songs of railroads, highways, and ships (Let the Lower Lights Be Burning). Why even the radio he sang about is a mechanism.

My musical preferences are more eclectic and include classical, pop and contemporary. Yet, I see that however clumsy his efforts, Daddy was transmitting to me his love for music. Often a melody or song floats through my head as easily as my Dad’s music did out our living room window. You might say the sound of music has masked some of my Dad’s missteps as a parent. For that I am thankful.

Statement of Christian Doctrine and Rules and Discipline of the Lancaster Conference of the Mennonite Church, 1968.

What interests or hobbies did a parent or close relative instill in your life? Was your experience a positive or negative one? Tell us about it.