An important technology used in a preserving and improving students’ health is musical therapy.

Purpose of the article. We will speak about historical origins of musical therapy, will reveal the essence of the above type of therapy as a means of positive influence on a human being’s spiritual and physiological state; secondly. We will briefly analyze the possibilities of using traditional music of the Ukrainian Carpathians residents to improve children’s health.

The main material of research. The term “musical therapy” has a Greek-Latin origin and if translated means “treatment by music”.

Using music for treatment purposes has been practiced since ancient times. At that time music served as a part of “magic”, religious and healing rituals. The first mention of the influence of music on the human body was recorded in Egyptian papyruses, found in 1889 by the English archeologist Flinders Petrie. These papyruses date back to 1500 B.C. E. The music in the above papyruses is described as a means of healing the body, relaxing the mind and purifying the soul. Music was widely used in practice by philosophers, doctors, musicians of Ancient Greece, China, and India.  For instance, Pythagoras approved music as a science. Pythagoreans noted that music positively influenced intelligence and thus used music  while teaching math classes. They also used special tunes to cope with fury and anger. The great doctor of ancient times Avicenna called a tune a “non-medical” way of treatment. In the “Canon of Medical Science” he suggested that people suffering from melancholy listen to music and birds singing.

A lot of historic personalities used methods of musical therapy. For instance, King David amused and treated from depression King Saul by playing the harp.

Scientific explanations for the influence of music on a human being’s physiological and psychological state appeared only in the late 18th – early 19th centuries.

For instance, Russian-Georgian physiologist, translator, teacher and popularizer of science Ivan Tarkhanov (Tarkhan-Mouravov, Tarkhnishvili) (1846-1908) mentioned that a melody enjoed by a human-being can help slow down the pulse, expand the vessels and decrease blood pressure. Music, which a person does not like, causes the opposite effect.

Profound research about the healing effect of music on a human being’s body was done by American neurologist James Leonard Corning (1855-1923). In particular, he studied the influence of Wagner’s music on psychological disorders. Playing the above composer’s musical works to patients produced impressive results. That’s why at the end of the 19th century at the hospital where Corning was working, they started to hold “treatment” concerts. 

The influence of music on a human being’s health was also studied by a prominent Russian psychiatrist, neurologist and academic Volodymyr Bekhteryev (1857-1927). Bekhteryev noted that music positively influences breathing, blood circulation and removes fatigue. As a “musical treatment” for children he suggested that “To transfer a child from a melancholy state to a cheerful state, we should first keep the child upset by means of sad songs, and later, gradually, transfer the child into an optimistic state by means of playing rhythmical and cheerful songs”.

In the 20th century an intensive scientific research of preventive, treatment and healing possibilities of musical art began.

For instance, a Bulgarian teacher and psychologist, Doctor of Medical Sciences George Lozanov (1926-2012) noted that the so-called  passive music (which is music in Baroque style, suchas works of Bach, Hendel and Vivaldi) synchronizes the mind and the body. Active music (for instance, fast, high-quality Mozart’s music) gives a powerful energetic charge to the brain the whole body. Lozanov thought that playing passive and active music in turns speeds up learning by 2-10 times.

Italian psychologist and artist Antonio Menehetti (1936-2013) noted that with the help of combined functioning of sound, singing and dance, we can influence not only treatment but also the prevention of diseases.

Today researchers study the healing influence of certain works created by the world’s greatest composers. We have analyzed the works of different authors and generalized “the musical repertoire” which has a therapeutic effect:

  • irritability and neuroses are calmed down by Petro Chaykovskyy and Dmytro Shostakovych’s music;
  • to treat migraines it is recommended to listen to – “Spring song” by Felix Mendelson, “Humor stories” by Antonin Leopol’d Dvorzhak, and the music by George Hershvin;
  • “Polonaise” by Mikhal Oginskyy treats headache;
  • music by Frederic Shopen and Ludwig van Beethoven helps to understand your own feelings and get to know yourself better;
  • “Wedding March” by Felix Mendelssohn normalizes blood pressure and heart activity;
  • optimistic sensation of the world appears after listening to music by Johann Straus, Imre Calmann, Frantz Legar;
  • slow music works by Johann Sebastian Bach and the preludes by Ferentz List help to overcome shyness and unnecessary inhibition;
  • operas by Richard Wagner, operettas by Jacque Offenbach, “Bolero” by Maurice Ravel, “Caprice No.24” by Niccolo Paganini are especially effective when working with slow, weak, lifeless children;
  • music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart improves cognitive brain capacity, increases stress resistance and decreases anxiety.

Another scientific research studies the influence of certain musical instruments on a human being’s health, the healing effects of traditional music. On the basis of analyses of some Ukrainian researchers’ works such as L. Bludova, V. Yefremova, B. Kindratyuk we came to certain conclusions. Here they are.

A human being’s mental energy, spiritual strength, power of creative imagination in conjunction with the vibration influence of “native” and traditional for the place of birth music can serve as effective method for the prevention and treatment of most diseases.

Under the term “traditional music” of mountains we understand folk songs, the sound of traditional musical instruments, which have been transferred from generation to generation, spread all over the areas of highland residents; and the sounds of alive and not alive nature of highland regions.

Traditional melodies are organic for listening and simple and easy to understand. Researchers say that traditional music is able to activate a human being’s innate strengths, which stimulate a person’s self-recovery.

Sounds  of folk songs and folk instruments  positively affect skin receptors, decrease  muscle tension, help get rid of depression, stress andanxiety,  positively influence  the heart rhythm and pulse and improve coordination of movements.

How  can a  teacher  use  the  arsenal  of  traditional music  for  healing  children?

There are two types of musical therapy: active and passive.

During the use of active music therapy, children play the musical instruments; sing; dance; perform rhythmical games and breathing exercises, all while music is being played.

What musical instruments traditional to the Carpathians can children play and what healing effect does this process provide?

For instance, playing the sopylka (pipe) systematically heals the body and prevents a lot of deceases. The explanation lies in the fact that during the playing of the instrument, a man holds his breath and all bad cells die in human body (the idea of holding breath was suggested by the famous Russian-Ukrainian researcher Kostyantyn Buteiko (1923-2003). The musical pipe makes a person kinder: this idea is suggested by a craftsman Viktor Tereshchenko from the Carpathian village Litky; he has been making musical pipes for almost half a century. On the web page of  Lviv National University we found information that playing the pipe can make smoking and drinking alcohol disgusting for you. So, we call everyone who wants to get rid of harmful for your health habits to start playing the sopylka.

A traditional musical instrument of Ukrainian Carpathian residents is drymba (also known as – vargan, homus, “mouth drum”; doromb in Hungary; “guimbarde” – in France; “Maultrommel” – in Germany; trump – in Scotland).

It has been proved that the above instrument specifically affects a musician’s body. The biological aspect of playing the drymba lies in the fact that vibrations of myndyk – the source of sound in drymba (it is moved into action by musician’s finger) – creates powerful vibrations. A musician can select the sound which will create resonance with basic rhythms of body vibrations, and as a result, a person will notice things he or she has not noticed before and will experience feelings more thoroughly. Drymba awakens energy of nature and gives a human being special powers.

The basis of passive music therapy is listening and perception of music by children with further discussions of the feelings this music creates. This type of music therapy provides psycho-emotional and somatic relaxation.

In schools of  Ivano-Frankivsk and Rakhiv we organized listening classes of Ukrainian highland musical instruments. The musical instruments included:  trembita (the ancient trumpet of the Hutsuls), buhay, basolya (stringed musical instrument that looks like a violin, and has three strings), koza-duda, tsymbaly and Church bells.

Here are some of the reviews of children's feelings that were caused by the music of basolya, tsymbaly, and church bells: basolya seems to “treat the soul” and awaken sympathy in the soul; tsymbaly – brings peace to the heart; after listening to church bells – peace comes and a feeling of pain disappears.

A unique treatment method for many diseases is the church bell therapy: the use of church bell music in order to heal a human being. This issue has been studied by theorists and practitioners. One of them is the Associate Professor at the Division of Education Bogdan Kindratyuk. As a result of the above research he published a monograph “The spiritual health of students and the music of bells.”

Every Carpathian village and town has churches and cathedrals, where local residents go to pray. Many cathedrals have bells. Both adults and children can improve their health by listening to the church bells.

Why does this bell therapy happen?

Bells relax people and make them peaceful. They do not have any contraindications. When church bells ring they emit ultra and infra waves, which helps decrease the activity of bacteria and viruses in human body by 40-50 percent. Sounds of these bells help to improve blood structure, purify vessels, and rejuvenate the body. For instance, doctors of the tuberculosis hospital, which is located near Goshiv Monastery in Ivano-Frankivsk region, say that patients who listen to these bells everyday recover two times faster. Church bell sounds are used for treatment of neural and mental disorders.

If you have a chance, it is recommended to visit a cathedral and listen to the “live” sounds of these bells. But you may not have such an opportunity every time, that’s why if needed you can use a CD – this is a good option.

“Traditional music” does not only consist of the sounds of musical instruments but also includes folk songs and sounds of nature peculiar to a certain region.

To aid the psychological and emotional relaxation of children during classes or during breaks we suggest watching a brief video which includes basically all the sounds typical to “highland music” of the Ukrainian Carpathians: the pipe, small bells, trembita, bayan (kind of accordion), drymba and koza-duda. Here you can hear the voice of Nina Matviyenko, a great Ukrainian singer. In this video you will see primroses peculiar to the Carpathians; pine trees covered with snow; you will see how brynza (traditional Hutlusian cheese made from sheep’s milk) is produced; you will see lizhnyky (warm bedspreads made of sheep’s wool) and national costumes of highlanders of the Ukrainian Carpathians. Besides the healing music, here in the mountains you can feel the healing sounds of the wind, birds singing, the sounds of flocks of sheep, and the murmur of waterfalls. 

Conclusions. Today one of the most important tasks for a teacher is to help a child get aesthetic and emotional enjoyment from music, and also to feel its healing effect. We rely great hopes on the use of traditional music of the highlanders all over the world, as we think that every highland region has inexhaustible traditional music resources which can be used as a powerful means of positive influence on intellectual, psychological and physiological state of children.

Larysa Slyvka,

Associate Professor Division of Theory
and Methodology of Elementary Education

Precarpathian National Vasyl

Stefanyk University


Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine