Organ scholars will be pleased to know that, besides being an art, besides being entertainment, besides being pleasure ... the music they're creating is medicine for the body.
Science is telling us that music activates many regions of the brain and has surprising effects on pain management, which IS surprising and almost difficult to believe, but it can help reduce chronic pain from several conditions; it can reduce the need for pain medication and complement the use of anesthesia.
Listening to relaxing music can help reduce blood pressure; when the music to which we're listening slows, so does our heart and breathing rates, which are faster when we listen to lively music.
The tempo, or pace, of the music rather than its style seems to have the greatest effect on relaxation.
According to the latest research a daily portion of one's favorite pop melodies, classical music, or jazz can speed recovery from debilitating strokes; it can also help people who suffer from migraines and reduce the frequency, intensity, and duration of chronic headaches.
Music is also known to boost the immune function by leading to the secretion of immune-boosting hormones and decrease the levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol; this is significant because higher levels of cortisol can lead to decreased immune response.
There is evidence that listening to certain types of classical music helps children suffering from epilepsy and can reduce in women the chances of experiencing postpartum anxiety and depression.
Instigating music therapy in an early stage of tinnitus (ringing in the ears) can also prevent development of a chronic form of tinnitus.
Research has confirmed that listening to music or playing a musical instrument, by enhancing some kinds of higher brain function, can actually make someone learn better; this involves reading and literacy skills, spatial reasoning, mathematical abilities, and even recall of autobiographical and episodic information.
The power of music to affect memory is also quite intriguing.
It activates and engages both sides of the brain at the same time, which causes the brain to be more capable of processing information.
There is clear evidence that children who take music lessons develop a better memory over time compared with children who have no musical training; this doesn't mean that music lessons are necessary for every child to develop a good memory, but when the two groups of children are compared a correlation with memory is observed.
It's also been shown that, for learning and memory performance improvement, it's important to listen to music without a vocal component ... otherwise we're more likely to remember the words of the background song than what we're supposed to be recalling.
It's well known that music can make exercise feel more like recreation and less like work, and it even enhances athletic performance by making the time pass more quickly; it can effectively reduce or eliminate exercise-induced fatigue and tiredness caused by monotonous work.
There is ample evidence that music in the workplace also improves productivity.
Listening to relaxing classical music is a safe, cheap, and easy way to beat insomnia; many people who suffer from insomnia find that the music of J.S. Bach helps them; research has shown that 45 minutes of relaxing music before bedtime can promote a restful night.
Listening to slow, quiet classical music has been proven to reduce stress; anyone can experience the relaxing effects of music, even newborns; it promotes optimistic and positive feelings and can even help people from getting as stressed over life's little frustrations in the future.
Listening to music has well known beneficial effects to reduce preoperative anxiety and can help overcome anxiety related to dental or medical procedures; this author spent 41 years personally observing this effect in his own workplace.
Bottom line: there is not just art, not just entertainment, not just pleasure, involved in the traditional music an organist makes; there's something else in it.
There's POWER in it ... power to relieve pain, to treat illness, to boost the immune system, to speed recovery, to ease the mind, to improve learning and memory, to enhance performance, to adjust the body's chemistry for the better ... power even to cause one's religious faith to rise (Rom. 10:17) ... power even to unite people in the face of tragedy [See blog, Organ Music Unites].