About lorettalaroche

An international stress management and humor consultant whose wit, and irreverent humor, has, for over 30 years raised the humor potential in all of us. She is on the Mass General advisory council for anxiety and depression and was recently awarded the National Humor Treasure Award. Loretta writes a weekly newspaper column called, 'Get a Life'.

Music does more than soothe the savage beast.


Music is supposed to soothe the savage beast, but the latest greatest research on a multiple of diseases has shown it can do more than tame a beast. Some findings seem counterintuitive to what many of us would imagine. Late stage Alzheimer’s patients are able to recall the lyrics to songs, yet are not able to speak. As a result researchers are testing the possibility that patients may be able to learn vital information like taking their medications through song.
There are over 10 million people worldwide with the progressive movement disorder of Parkinsons. They struggle with stiff limbs, tremors and poor balance. A study preformed by Dr.Patricia McKinley of McGill University in Montreal demonstrated that when seniors danced the tango, there were benefits not only to the body, but also to the brain. Participants had increased muscle tone and balance, but what’s more interesting is that their memories improved, and they also showed a greater ability to multitask—on or off the dance floor.
Jazz musicians use improvisation which reduces self-censoring and enhances the region that allows for self-expression. My partner is a jazz musician and I am often in awe of his abilities. He is able to take a song and play it differently each time with such variety. Whenever his group gets together, it consistently amazes me how they can play so intuitively without rehearsal.
Meditation is enhanced with music and so are massages. Music can reduce anxiety during dental procedures as long as it doesn’t sound like someone is playing a jackhammer as an instrument. During one of my surgeries I listened to music that had been chosen to enhance healing. It definitely helped me to relax, and if the mind/body are relaxed, then healing becomes easier.
There are places where I wish more thought would go into the kind of music that’s played. I want to run out of the supermarket sometime when they are relentlessly playing songs which I feel are okay for going to a Jay Z concert. The one place that I find to be incredibly bothersome are restaurants that blast music that might work in a night club. But when I’m eating and trying to digest my meal do I really need to listen to music that is giving me heartburn? Yes, I’m from a different generation, but our hearing and our digestion can be compromised at any age, and there are more young people losing their hearing than previous generations.
I would strongly suggest if you have children to encourage them to play an instrument or do it for yourself. Age doesn’t matter.It can be a wonderful source of entertainment for them or you through the years. Sports are all well and good, but when your older it’s easier to sit down and play the piano rather then getting a soccer team together.

Do it with a sense of humor and above all try to make it fun.


My grandmother was a square, stout little woman. She wasn’t obese, she wasn’t even really fat. But she was soft. Every now and then she might have gotten on the scale and she’d say “Ahh! How’d those five pounds get there?” But that didn’t change the way she felt about herself. She kept going, and she made her macaroni, and stuffed everything in sight including peas. Maybe she’d eat a little less to make up for those five pounds. But she felt good about who she was and her place in the world. Five extra pounds on the scale was not a life or death issue.
It’s hard to believe, but her world was so different. Yes, that’s a big DUH! She did not aspire to look like anyone else since movies, magazines and television were not yet a huge part of the culture. She and her immediate community of friends and family were not barraged with constant information that led them to believe something was wrong with them. They weren’t assaulted with marketing techniques that made them feel deformed for having a little cellulite, or that they should check into therapy if they felt like having fried eggs for breakfast.
Now we are given the hard-core facts behind everything. We can find out what our body-fat ratio ought to be, we can discover what disorders we might be prone to, and we have gadgets that can inform us of every bodily function. Virtually every message sent to us by the media and by the marketing of almost every product for sale in America is that “you can improve yourself.”
Many people, in their quest for self-improvement, have become so dreadfully serious and stressed out and dull that they’re losing what’s most important about life. Fun! Connection! Pleasure! Excitement! How many times have you heard people go on and on about what they ate today? The fat police: “I ate a slice of pizza at lunch, I just can’t believe it?” Why can’t they believe it? Did they somehow suffer amnesia immediately after they swallowed their last bite? Then they have to tell you they’re going to have to work out twice as hard to rid themselves of the pizza slice. PLEASE! Just stop! I often want to respond by saying “ I ate everything in site and it made me so happy!”
We all have faults, neuroses, physical imperfections, and psychological quirks. That’s what makes you unique. If you want to change, try to consider that changing behaviors involves complex interactions between genes, chemistry and lifestyle. Self-improvement should not be a prison sentence, but one that builds toward a happier, healthy life. And please don’t become overly serious about it. Do it with a sense of humor and above all try to make it fun.