Yamaha Music and Wellness Institute: Researchers Show that Stress Reduction Through Recreational Music Making Impacts Biological Pathways on the DNA Level in Individuals with Coronary Heart Disease

Meadville, PA (PRWEB) March 08, 2013

A new genomics study published in Medical Science Monitor indicates that Recreational Music Making (RMM), a group music-based activity that focuses on personal expression and group support, rather than mastery and performance has been shown to have significant impact on the DNA level for individuals with cardiovascular disease.

This is the first scientific publication in the world that advances knowledge of the genomic impact of RMM as a stress reduction strategy for patients facing the challenges of heart disease through biological pathway analysis.

“A growing body of research suggests that stress may contribute substantially to the development of coronary vascular disease,” said principal investigator, Barry Bittman, MD, CEO of the Yamaha Music and Wellness Institute, and Meadville Medical Center’s Chief Innovations Officer. “While exercise and nutritional strategies abound for patients facing the challenges of heart disease, relatively few enjoyable, effective stress-reduction strategies are incorporated into therapeutic regimens. This unique study builds upon our prior research to suggest that creative musical expression (even in individuals who do not consider themselves musical) may play an important therapeutic role in the lives of our patients.”

As noted in the research investigation, psychosocial stress has been shown to increase the risk for cardiovascular disease. A growing body of evidence indicates that psychosocial stressors are associated with hypertension, progression of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular events, and thus contribute significantly to cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. This groundbreaking study suggests that RMM may be more clinically useful for stress reduction, and may confer greater benefit to cardiovascular patients than traditional modes of relaxation.

All subjects in this two-part controlled scientific investigation had a history of ischemic heart disease, the term indicating reduced blood flow to the heart due to narrowed heart arteries that can ultimately lead to a heart attack.

The study was performed with three distinct full blood genomic assessments on each subject: at baseline, after a one hour stress-inducing exercise, and after either a one hour Yamaha Clavinova Connection® session (a group music activity performed on Yamaha Clavinova digital pianos) or a one hour quiet reading session.

Rather than limiting this study to an analysis of single genes, the team explored RMM’s impact on biological pathways. The result? RMM clearly evoked biological activity in a substantially greater number of pathways when compared to the control group (12 vs. 2 pathways). This study suggests that stress reversal through RMM is more effective than quiet reading at altering the expression of specific immune responses and control pathways.

“From a biological perspective, this study shows that an hour-long recreational music making session can cause significant molecular change, and the nature of this change may be beneficial to patients with cardiovascular disease,” noted study co-author Darrell Ellsworth, PhD, Senior Director Cardiovascular Disease Reversal Project, Windber Research Institute.

“The potential clinical implications of this study support our balanced approach for patients with, or at risk for heart disease – exercise, nutrition, adequate sleep and stress-reduction,” added study co-author Marina Vernalis, DO FACC Col (Ret), Medical Director, Integrative Cardiac Health Program, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. “To my knowledge, this study is the first to provide molecular insight on the value of creative musical expression as an effective stress reduction technique in patients with heart disease. Further studies are needed to understand the scientific basis of the effectiveness of musical therapeutic interventions.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year—1 in every 4 deaths—making it the leading cause of death for both men and women.

“Our findings, while preliminary, have serious implications on many levels,” added Bittman. “With coronary heart disease accounting for more than $100 billion in annual healthcare costs, we recognize the benefits of engaging patients in the active pursuit of their own health and well-being through a rational selection of enjoyable effective therapeutic choices such as creative musical expression.”

For more information about the RMM study, please visit Medical Science Monitor at (http://www.medscimonit.com/abstract/index/idArt/883807)

Human Genome, Stress and Creative Musical Expression
Featured at Lincoln Center

-Live Performance and Keynote Presentation-

On October 30, 2009, Barry Bittman, MD, CEO of the Yamaha Music & Wellness Institute performed the keynote address at Lincoln Center's Music & the Brain symposium presented by the Cleveland Clinic Arts and Medicine Institute.   With integrated live performances by prodigious composer/pianist Jarrod Radnich and world-renowned soprano, Patti Cohenour, Bittman presented his research on stress and the human genome in the context of creative musical expression to demonstrate the phenomenal impact of disclosure on the healing process.

 "In ancient times music and medicine were integrally related," noted Bittman.  "Through this unique symposium and the collaborative initiatives of the Cleveland Clinic, guest faculty and artists, a resurgence of interest in music as a clinical tool in healthcare is setting the stage for the utilization of integrative expressive strategies that can enable people to maximize quality of life despite extraordinary health challenges."

Dr.Bittman's keynote theme was exemplified by Radnich's life and his original musical score, Macaw (co-arranged with Craig Knudsen), that reflects a life-threatening struggle the young musician faced over the course of several years.   Bittman, who also serves as Meadville Medical Center's Chief Innovations Officer, said, "Amidst phenomenal challenges and numerous hospitalizations, Jarrod's remarkable musicianship and sense of creative musical expression served as both a survival tool and a reason for living.   When I heard his musical score, I was moved to tears and immediately set forth to develop a heart-felt theme that captured the essence of what seemed so perfectly disclosed— both consciously and unconsciously.   As a neurologist, I've learned a great deal about the power of the human spirit from Jarrod.   As a scientist, I now more fully understand the importance of uncovering the mechanisms that enable creative musical expression to serve as a survival strategy.   As a musician, I have a far greater appreciation for the ultimate value of personal disclosure as a healing tool for each of us."

Bittman's research, as summarized in his keynote, presented psychosocial, biological and genomic evidence substantiating the impact of active music participation as a stress-reduction strategy even for people who do not consider themselvesmusical .  With a focus on altering stress biology at the DNA level with the Yamaha Clavinova Connection ,he reviewed key insights pertaining to individualized genomic stress-induction signatures —specific gene responses that reflect the uniqueness of each person.   "Frankly we were surprised not only by the distinctly individualized nature of the human stress response, but also by the positive impact playing a musical instrument had on the molecular level,"added Bittman.

Rick Young, Senior Vice-President of Yamaha Corporation of America said, "This fascinating program clearly showcased Yamaha Music & Wellness Institute's commitment to both research and education.   Dr. Bittman's innovative presentation on stress and the human genome evolved into a captivating discussion of the value of creative musical expression.   I was particularly pleased to hear Bittman's keynote and Jarrod Radnich's inspirational music performed with vocalist, Patti Cohenour (who played the original Christine in the Broadway Musical, Phantom of the Opera ), lead to a standing ovation."

When asked about this important event, Karl T. Bruhn, Yamaha Music & Wellness Institute Board Chairman, commented, "we're finally beginning to discover scientific support for what we've been aware of all along.   From a personal perspective, I will never forget how playing a wind instrument helped me recover from childhood asthma at a time many years ago when treatment options were practically non-existent.   The importance of sharing our Music & Wellness Institute's ground-breaking research should not be underestimated."

Dr.Bittman, reflecting upon music surviving the test of time, said, "the ubiquitous nature of music across multiple cultures warrants ongoing study from multiple perspectives.   I'm honored to state that the future of music-making rests in part on the breakthroughs we're experiencing at the Yamaha Music & Wellness Institute.   It's also important to realize that while scientific research at the molecular level is finally revealing many of the secrets of how we function, the unique integration of science and the actual musical experience offers a moving realization that extends beyond words.   The unforgettable experience of Radnich and Cohenour performing Love in Flight at Lincoln Center, left me mesmerized and certain that the DNA in every one of my cells was dancing!"

Trinity Center Empowers Children to Transform a Community
New Mentoring Program Offers Hope for a Better Tomorrow Through Creative Musical and Artistic Expression

Inner city neighborhoods across the country offer supportive programs to keep young children out of trouble, yet struggle to protect them during their teenage years when they are the most vulnerable to negative influences and criminal behavior. Youth after-school programs unfortunately experience a sharp decline in attendance around the age of fourteen when children tend to return to the streets. In an effort to reduce this devastating trend among teenagers in its own community, Trinity Center of Erie, PA is offering a new inspiring and magnetic mentoring program (click here to view video) designed to empower community youth and keep them actively and positively engaged throughout their teenage years. With an emphasis on creative musical and artistic expression and the cultivation of peer-to-peer relationships and role-modeling, this innovative program provides local teens with a sense of confidence and worth that has great potential to ultimately lead them on the path to success, rather than back to the streets.

Trinity Center’s new program will be officially launched on July 10, 2008 within a renovated tire warehouse that will offer everything from drumming and dancing to music recording studios and high-tech digital Yamaha Clavinova pianos. According to Barry Bittman, MD, CEO and President of the Yamaha Music & Wellness Institute, “this extraordinary first of its kind program offers innovative, attractive and sustainable music as well as creative arts-based activities designed to attract youth to the center and enable personal accomplishment on many levels. Rather than relying solely on adult role models, adolescents will progressively be trained to become recreational music-making facilitators in a manner designed to foster the kind of peer-to-peer mentoring that can truly make a positive difference during these vulnerable years.  I’m personally convinced that this unique strategy has great potential to transform not only the children, but also the neighborhood.”

“The goal of these expressive activities is not to simply inspire an interest in the arts or improve musical or artistic skills. For Trinity Center, the bar is set higher: our clear-cut expectations are for life-long success (college or trade school) and positive community contribution,” noted Gene Wisinski, CEO of Bethesda Children’s Home. “Also, rather than relying solely upon adult facilitators, this innovative approach based upon Dr. Bittman’s research will for the first time engage responsible youth facilitators. These adolescents are carefully recruited and progressively nurtured within a system that rewards one’s ability to maintain, demonstrate and model high standards and positive behavior.”

Based upon Bittman’s underlying evidence-based recreational music making strategy  that emphasizes creative expression as a catalyst for meaningful verbal disclosure, the program’s ultimate goal is to promote heightened understanding while fostering a needed sense of personal worth, values, responsibility and tolerance. This effective strategy is consistent with the philosophy stated by the late Fred Rogers, “whatever is mentionable is manageable.”

In an era of chronically high juvenile crime rates, the development of this program could not be more crucial. Children and teens are most vulnerable to either committing or becoming a victim of crime after the school day ends, between the hours of 2:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Trinity Center’s mentoring program has been designed as a reproducible template for developing programs in other neighborhoods that can empower young teens as mentors and reduce the likelihood of them returning to the streets.

 “When kids have nothing to do, they get in trouble.  I know I can be a positive role model.  I can listen to them.  It makes me feel good inside when I can help other kids leave the bad behind, “said 16-year-old Lakita Leggett, who looks forward to serving as a teen facilitator for the new program.  Donovan Quinn, a 16-year-old facilitator in training reflects upon his own experience in the neighborhood.  “Many kids don’t have a positive role model these days.  I did… it was my sister who worked hard and always did her work.  I’m a good example… a good student, I stay out of trouble and I can also be fun to be around.  I want to spend time helping kids at Trinity learn to concentrate on themselves and do good instead of thinking about their problems.”

Trinity Center has already initiated the process of renovating the third floor of an abandoned tire warehouse located on 349 West 18th Street to serve this project.  The program is expected to stand as a symbol of hope, support and commitment to the local community, keeping children off the streets and on a path to success. Supporters include world-renowned music products industry leaders such as Yamaha’s Music & Wellness Institute and Remo, Inc. as well as many of Erie’s community agencies including United Way and First National Bank.