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The Medicine of Music

The Medicine of Music

Posted - May 1, 2003 at 10:22 p.m.



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Ed Yeates reporting The movements of a hyperactive child, may seem chaotic and uncontrolled. But a Utah composer sees rhythm where others might see turmoil. With the help of psychologists,he's experimenting with music, to calm children with hyperactivity or any other behavioral problems.

There are more than 17-hundred research papers documenting music as a form of relaxation therapy. But so far, it's all been traditional applications. Now a composer/therapist is opening a door no one has tried before.

At his studio in Provo, Wayne Musgrave tries to match the rhythm of music with the antics of kids bouncing all over the place.

WAYNE MUSGRAVE / COMPOSER: "AND THE WAY I'VE COME ABOUT THAT IS TESTING KID'S HEART RATE DURING THE TIME OF HYPERACTIVITY - WHICH IS AROUND 130 BEATS PER MINUTE."

He sets the pace on his equipment - using a metronome. Lots of rhythm - lots of noise - a composition you might hardly find suitable for a kid out of control. But Musgrave is experimenting with a new theory.

Wayne: "MEET THEM ON THEIR LEVEL AT FIRST AND THEN START GRADUALLY BRINGING THEM DOWN. EVERY THREE TO FOUR MINUTES, I WOULD CHANGE THE TEMPO."

The approach is rather unorthodox - using what composers sometimes call a "sneaky" interlude.

"THE RHYTHM JUST DOESN'T ALL OF A SUDDEN STOP AND THEN GO DOWN FOUR OR FIVE, TEN BEATS PER MINUTE. KIND OF BRING IT INTO AN ETHEREAL DREAM LIKE STATE AND SNEAK THE LOWER TEMPO INTO THEM. INTRODUCE IT NOT SO ABRUPTLY." ED YEATES: "WHILE IT WILL TAKE SOME REALLY CONTROLLED SCIENTIFIC STUDIES TO PROVE WHETHER THIS THEORY WORKS, THIS IS THE END GOAL - TO GET CHILDREN WHO WERE ONCE BOUNCING FROM WALL TO WALL - QUIETLY SITTING, COLORING IN A BOOK."

Art - not science - for now. But Musgrave is consulting with medical experts - hoping to take this to the next level - clinical trials possibly by the first of next year.

DR. KENNETH TUTTLE, PSYCHOLOGIST, IHC BEHAVIORAL HEALTH NETWORK: "I SUPPOSE WHAT COULD HAPPEN IS THE CHILD COULD USE A MEDICATION FOR SCHOOL - COME HOME IN THE EVENING AND THEN MAYBE USE THE MUSIC THERAPY FOR THE EVENING TIME RATHER THAN TAKING MORE MEDICATION. THAT'S A POSSIBILITY."

Possibilities! That's all they are for now. But these kids, exposed to the experiment for the first time appeared to follow the pattern. The hyperactive rhythm in Haley Black, if there is such a thing, matched the music at first.

HALEY BLACK: "BEING NOISY"

But then it brought her down to the coloring books. Her feeling...

"SOFT AND GENTLE"

HALEY BLACK, DIAGNOSED HYPERACTIVE: "MAKES ME FEEL - MAKES ME FEEL LIKE PEOPLE THAT CAN DO THE RIGHT THINGS."

If it works, Musgrave believes the music might mellow out not just hyperactive kids but children who just seem to be scattered - who can't settle down.

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