The power of music and human connection….

So, this week I have been celebrating all the unexpected new friendships and connections I have made during lock-down. One of my new friendships is with the lovely Donna Newton who I have got to know over the past few weeks whilst doing my Health Coaching course.

Donna is amongst many other things, a brilliant singer and is one part of a band Tympaniks, and this week she shared her story about the impact of music on her health and well-being on our ‘Feel Better Together call’

It was a heart- warming and fascinating talk, as she shared both her own experiences with music, and the science behind the health benefits of music.

She remembers music being a big part of her childhood, and growing up listening to bands like Erasure and Simply Red. However, the pivotal moment was when she went to watch ‘Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat’ which ignited a passion for the musicals. She subsequently spent her teenage years performing in many school musicals, including playing the lead in Joseph herself. She described how music provided a release from the stress growing up and feels it was vital to her mental health. She experienced anxiety and depression in her late teens, and firmly believes that music saved her life.

It is not surprising that now many years later that music still plays an important role in her life. Singing in her band gives her so much pleasure and benefits her in so many ways. It gives her confidence and mental wellbeing. It gives her a huge sense of connection, with the band, but also with the audiences they play to. It also gives her a cardio workout, and an opportunity for creative expression through her song writing.

There are so many elements involved in music that we often don’t stop to think about. Music has rhythm, melody and pitch that can impact us all in different ways. A nice relaxing song has the ability to reduce our heart rate and our blood pressure, whilst a fast song can increase our heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate and improve exercise performance.

Listening to music can help to manage pain, and to improve mood by increasing levels of dopamine in the brain. It can help to improve cognitive performance, as seen with patients with Alzheimer’s disease, as it helps us to access memories in the brain. It can also to reduce stress, and help us sleep.

Playing music has even more benefits as it helps to develop connections in the brain so has a huge impact on our cognitive ability.

It was so wonderful to hear Donna explain all of these benefits but also the wonderful impact it has on her health to this day.

We were then very privileged to listen to one of her beautiful songs and learn the moving story behind the lyrics. Please click on the link to listen.. Tympaniks Come Home

However, she also uses her wonderful talent to help others, by performing benefit gigs, even in lock-down! So, I tuned in to listen to a live stream of her benefit gig for War Child UK on Friday night. What a wonderful start to the weekend. Please do click on the link for more information  and to donate to War Child UK’S coronavirus crisis appeal.

Since her talk I have brought music back into my bedtime routine and got that keyboard back out that I bought from the tip shop just before lockdown started. My son has mastered a few more notes than me at this stage so I have made a promise to start by practicing 10 minutes a day and see where I can get to. As a child I dreamt of living by the sea, writing books and playing the piano… I don’t think that will ever be my reality, but I did live by the sea for a while, and I do enjoy writing these blogs so perhaps I have brought a little of that to life in my own small way…

Which brings me nicely to next week’s topic. My dear friend Sam Eddleston will be sharing with us the benefits of creating small simple habits in our daily life to transform our health… We started this weekly call with the intention of keeping people connected, but also with the aim of supporting each other to maintain healthy habits. It was actually Sam who suggested we name it ‘Feel Better Together’ after Dr Chatterjee’s brilliant book ‘Feel Better in 5’. I am therefore very excited that Sam will be sharing all her knowledge and understanding in behaviour change as a chartered psychologist. It also central to everything Donna and I are learning as Health Coaches so I cannot wait! I really hope you will be able to join us. Please click on the link for more information. Feel Better Together call

But for now, I would just like to say a big thank you to Donna Newton for a brilliant call.

We cannot underestimate the value of both music and connection, and I am so grateful to you for both!

Take good care everyone, take some time to dance to your favourite tune, and please stay connected!

Harriet x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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