Music Therapy: How genres, influential bands like The Beatles help heal substance abuse, mental health disorders
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10-20-12 Category: Mental Health

Former Liverpool resident, Sovereign Health writer reflects on The Beatles’ early years

It is a well-known fact that music is continuously expanding and always influential. Spanning from the first ballads, to classical music, rock n’ roll, modern pop and techno, music has always been around to speak to people in unique ways.

One of arguably the biggest movements in music actually occurred within the last 60 to 70 years. This movement started in the era of jazz and evolved into the early days of rock, mainly with a well-known band from Liverpool, England – The Beatles.

While The Beatles revolutionized music, so too, can music change people. Things like music therapy have developed from the idea that music is so influential to its listeners, as one can observe from the movement created by The Beatles.

To expand a bit on the musical influence that The Beatles created, Sovereign Health interviewed one of their writers that grew up in the same city as the band – Content Writer Veronica McNamara. She was asked about her experience in Liverpool from 1961 to 1963 watching The Beatles and other bands in The Cavern Club when The Beatles were still emerging. She explained just how influential music can be to an entire generation and even one individual.

Question: What do you remember from listening to music at The Cavern in the 60s?

Answer: The crowd, the heat, the volume, the excitement – you could feel it in the air. People [were] dancing everywhere. There were brick walls with moisture running down them and it smelled like Pine-sol. Everyone was having such a good time; there was never any trouble.

It was very crucial what you wore the clothing, the make-up and the 1960s hairstyle. We also wore a lot of black jeans and baggy sweaters, they were big then too.

Q: What did you feel like listening to at The Cavern Club?

A: It was a jazz club originally; it was called traditional jazz in those days. It was all live bands and it was great. A little tiny stage and the club choked with people.

When it was the rock n’ roll guys, it was the same thing. I just felt happy. You couldn’t listen to it and not be happy. You always had a feeling that it was the place to be. It was a different era.

Q: What was going internationally at that time?

A: [One thing was] Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. There were marches and every one wore the black and white peace signs. That was when Kennedy was president.

Q: What do you remember about seeing The Beatles in Liverpool from 1961 to 1963?

A: I was sitting in the front row with my feet on the stage. You just knew they were different because they didn’t sound like anyone else. They didn’t sound like any other band. They were very enthusiastic and full of energy. They were having a good time and were always making jokes. They started out as the Quarrymen, then the Silver Beetles and then The Beatles.

Q: What was it like seeing The Beatles before they became famous?

A: You could tell that they sounded rough around the edges, but still good. Very energetic and they just drew you in. They sang a wide variety of stuff. They did blues and Chuck Berry and “Twist and Shout.”

Q: Did The Beatles have any effect on people early on?

A: You could see the effect on the audience. When they were on, everyone who wasn’t dancing was watching them. You felt something coming from them where you had to participate.

Q: How did the music change? How did it affect society?

A: There was this great chasm between kids who listened to rock n’ roll and the parents who listened to Frank Sinatra; rock n’ roll was such radical new music. It affected clothing just like rock music does now.

We didn’t have the technology. We had EPs LPs and singles. It was more intimate. The thinking was 100 percent different. It was the total opposite of political correctness.

Politics were huge for us and we could talk politics. A Democrat and a Republican could have a talk and have an argument about facts, not opinions. It was very stimulating, even with a person who disagreed with me.

Q: How do you feel listening to that era of music now?

A: It takes you right back. You go back to where you were at that time. That’s why it works for Alzheimer’s patients because they play music from their era and it takes them back. I always feel happy when I listen to the music.

McNamara mentioned the atmosphere and the attitude that surrounded the patrons of The Cavern Club as they jammed to The Beatles. It was exciting, fun and the patrons were happy.

Just as music affected these young adults back in the 60s, music continues to influence today both in the casual and the therapeutic setting.

Music therapy is used to positively affect a person’s mental, physical and emotional health. Clients who partake in music therapy are asked to listen to, create, sign along with or move to music. In doing this, the client is able to relate to the music and use both body and mind to magnify their strengths and open up new forms of communication. It can promote a calm state of mind, a slower heart rate, lower blood pressure and higher immunity. Music can help to encourage creativity and an optimistic mindset; music can affect many areas of a person’s health in positive ways.

Music therapy has been used to help patients with Alzheimer’s disease. If the patient grew up in the 60s and loved rock music like the music The Beatles created, playing songs by The Beatles may allow the patient to connect the music to an older memory. It would help to strengthen their mind in the process. Popular Beatles hits like “Help!” or “I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends” could help a patient suffering with anxiety by promoting feelings of happiness and ease while singing at home.

Music can influence history, the way it did with The Beatles, and it can influence the individual in music therapy. Music therapy can be an important tool for the treatment of addiction or mental health and that’s one of the reasons Sovereign Health of California offers it to its clients, both adolescent and adult. Sovereign makes sure to offer the most up-to-date forms of music therapy to its clients because those at Sovereign know how important music can be to one’s mental and physical help.

For more information on Sovereign’s treatment programs and music therapy, feel free to visit

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