Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

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Make That Music

Story by V. Michelle Bernard

In her years as a musician and music therapist, Alicia Barksdale, professor and director of the Music Therapy program at Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Md.—the only Music Therapy program in the Seventh-day Adventist Church system and the state of Maryland—says she has seen some miraculous healing through music. She’s witnessed people come out of comas after hearing a favorite song; others belting into song after the inability to speak; a patient who worked through grief by playing music when no words could express their pain.

Barksdale says everyone should incorporate music-making into their lives for health reasons. “We all know anecdotally that music helps in daily life,” she says, noting that research shows music can help calm the vagus nerve—part of the system that controls digestion, heart rate and the immune system. She adds that when we’re in a stress response mode, “listening to music can really help to reset that vagus nerve.”

Other benefits of music-making include spiritual and community bonding, increased neuron connections in aging adults, and help in child development.

Find out more about Washington Adventist University's Music Therapy Program here.


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