Lt. James Reese Europe, band director, far left, poses the jazz band of the 369th Infantry Regiment on the way home from war. Many music historians credit the music of the 369th for laying the foundation for the popularity of jazz music in France after the end of World War I.

World War I and the Medication of Jazz Music

Life before World War I was more difficult than what it  was like after the war. Before the war women were mostly only seen as housewives, if something was to break, the ‘man’ of the house would fix it and men who were working were only working 53 hours a week while having difficulties to provide for their family; such as an annual salary of $500 per week. ‘Normal’ was considered as women not having jobs or being able to vote, people legally being able to drink, many teens going to work instead of going to school; to the point where only 2% graduated in 1900.

After the war everything changed. People wanted to return to normalcy, and during that time they wanted multiple aspects of their old lives back. For example, The United States as a nation wanted the peaceful life they had before the war had started; with a president who would not be involve them in European wars. The quality and condition of a normal life and most importantly; everyone wanted to go back to the undisturbed life and nonviolent life they had before the war. When everyone was trying to return to normalcy, they used jazz music to help the soldiers forget the murders and violence they had seen at war. Jazz took the anger, grief, compassion and desire to change, and it turned these emotions into positive energy. Jazz had brought joy to people who suffered dark times in the war. Music therapy had started up before World War I, but it was big after World War I. When music was used in hospitals as an intervention to address traumatic war injuries, veterans actively and passively engaged in music activities that focused on relieving pain perception.

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Lt. James Reese Europe, band director, far left, poses the jazz band of the 369th Infantry Regiment on the way home from war. Many music historians credit the music of the 369th for laying the foundation for the popularity of jazz music in France after the end of World War I.
Lt. James Reese Europe, band director, far left, poses the jazz band of the 369th Infantry Regiment on the way home from war. Many music historians credit the music of the 369th for laying the foundation for the popularity of jazz music in France after the end of World War I.

Doctors had even noted feeling an improvement in their outlook and felt less pain, noted feeling an improvement in their outlook and felt less pain. The music was so well received that doctors began hiring musicians to play for soldiers while some musicians volunteered to play. Numerous doctors and nurses witnessed the effect music had on veterans’ psychological, physiological, cognitive, and emotional state. People who listen to jazz music are usually 25% less depressed than non-listeners, proving that when music therapy was used on soldiers after World War I it helped them in the depressed state of thought. Listening to jazz has been shown to reduce length and intensity of both general and migraine headaches. Study shows that after listening to jazz music for an hour everyday for a week, the pain will decrease by 21%. Studies show that listening to jazz also improves verbal memory increase by 60%. Listening to jazz music can also help you sleep better, promote relaxation and inspires creativity.

World War I had changed America greatly, and because of that Jazz came into play a big role. Jazz music wasn’t only used to dance to or listen to at a speakeasy, it was used in music therapy after World War I to help veterans from the war, and the results of music therapy that was see were astonishing.

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