An in-depth Eugene Weekly article on “music as medicine” in December 2015 featured two Marylhurst individuals: faculty Emily Ross and alum Danielle Oar.
Excerpt from an article by Rachael Carnes in Eugene Weekly, December 31, 2015.
Music connects to the very essence of what makes us human, Danielle Oar says.
Oar notes how memorizing lyrics encourages development in the language centers of our brains and how hearing a song engages memory through the prefrontal cortex. Music’s rhythmic patterns assist with cognitive processing and logic, and its emotional resonance touches our feeling center, the limbic system.
“Before we’re even conscious of what’s going on in the music, we’re aware of it — across all regions of our brains,” Oar says.
“When you have an emotional reaction to music,” Oar asks, “where do you feel it? How do you know you feel it?”
These are questions people like Oar have been asking for a long time.
Some of the earliest references to music therapy are several hundred years old, with its earliest proponents looking to music as a means to treat disease in institutional settings.
But the work gained traction in the last century, notes Emily Ross.
“In the 1940s, with the influx of soldiers returning from the war, musicians would go to veteran hospitals to play and found that music had a unique ability to help veterans open up, connect with others and begin to process their experience,” Ross says.
“However,” she continues, “the musicians were not equipped with the knowledge or training to contain all this emotion that the music unleashed. Hence the concept of cross-training people in psychology and music was born.”
Danielle Oar is a board-certified music therapist and owner of Refuge Music Therapy in Eugene. She earned her Bachelor of Music Therapy at Marylhurst University in 2014.