A picture of me

My name is Olga Velez, and I'm a journalism major at the University of Florida. My interest in music's ability to reduce stress started when my great aunt was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease about six years ago. When my great aunt would get upset or irritated, Olvina, the woman taking care of her, would sing a song with her to calm her down. Even though the power that music had to calm my great aunt's mood intrigued me, I only became fascinated with the power of music when my great aunt forgot my name. Even though she can't remember me, she still remembers songs that she used to sing when she was a girl in Cuba. When she is in a particularly good mood, she always bursts into song. The short moment of clarity that I have seen or imagined in her eyes, always stuns me when I stop to think about it.

Aside from seeing the power music has in the life of my great aunt, I have also seen it in my family. My father, brother and I all play piano, and my father and I both play a little bit of guitar. I have been playing piano for about 10 years and guitar for about three years. Whenever I am stressed about school or something going on in my life, I find that playing either guitar or piano is the best cure for my stress. When I'm involved in creating music, not only does the sound I create soothe me, but there is no room for distraction. If I stop concentrating for one moment, I find that I lose my place and the music stops. Playing an instrument is wonderful because it leaves no room to think about anything else. While at the end of a stressful weekday, I have seen my brother and my father taking turns with the piano. Observing them, I have noticed that their moods vastly improve after they have had time to play even just one song.

Having so many examples in my life of the power that music has to calm and relax, I wanted to use this website not only to share what I know and have experienced, but also to explore how music impacts the lives of those around me and provide a way for people to learn how to create their own music on my favorite instrument, the piano. I have found that every person I have come into contact with because of this project has a similar story to tell about the power that music has to reduce stress. I have also found that research shows music has the ability to reduce blood pressure and the power to temporarily get the brain to focus solely on the music playing. It has been a wonderful experience for me to be able to research this topic, and I hope you get as much out of the information provided here as I have. If you have any questions, would like more information about anything that I have posted or would like to share how music has impacted your life, feel free to email me.