Music as a Medical Therapy Essay

Music as a Medical Therapy Essay

Music and its mysterious connection to the brain is a vital medical therapy that can be employed to treat mentally related conditions, improve intelligence, concentration and mental productivity.

The power of music on the brain of human beings is great and mysterious. Music can move us to tears, make us calm or even comforted and at best inspire us. In the human life journey, it is amazing how music becomes part of us. It is a mysterious how music connects with us through our brains. It is observable that interest in music in a person can either be a talent by birth or acquired along the life journey. The rhythms of music and its therapeutic ability is a topical research issue that is currently under study.

In 2008, the University of Maryland School of Medicine did a research on the role of music in healing. The study revealed that listening to music that is considered joyful for a period of 30 minutes is helpful in the release of endorphins that relieve pain and stress levels (Casey 80). Stress is widely known for overloading the immune system thus resulting to health complications (Sacks). A similar study by Seattle University in Washington concluded that when a person listens to Mozart for 12 minutes at a frequency of three times a week, this can help lower systolic blood pressure by seven points (Casey 81).

According to researchers, when person listen to music, the heartbeat, breath and brain waves initially slow down or speed up depending on what one is listening. They add that the body syncs up with the sound generating a relaxation impact, lifting stress, slowing heartbeat and relaxation of muscles making the body release feel-good endorphins (Sacks). Sounds like tuning folks and singing bowl help sooth an overexcited nervous system (Casey 81). According to Joshua Leeds, an author of The Power of Sound, music to the nervous system is equivalent to what nutrients are to the body (Casey 81). Additionally, experts say practicing a musical instrument on a day by day basis is a catalyst to making the brain young and supple. Ideally, it is like the body is tuned to react to music in a particular way. Different individuals react to different types of music in different ways (Sacks). Music therapy can be applied to individuals of all races and ages in treating a variety of conditions including psychiatric disorders and sensory impairment

During the two world Wars, live music was ideally used as a part of prescription for recovering soldiers. The basis is that every individual can respond to music, whether ill or disabled or well. Music possesses the unique characteristic of unifying people involuntary especially if played by a professional (Weinberger 88). Serotonin is one of the feel-good hormones that produces joyous feelings in individuals (Monglione).This explains why an organist during competitions moves masses when they characteristically play a certain tune to cheer up a team. Mothers ideally have perfected the art of getting an infant to sleep by chanting a calming rhythmic pattern of song (Weinberger 88). The mystery of music is such that even infants in the third semester of pregnancy can hear it when played near the abdomen of their mother (Costa-Giomi et al. 31). The effect of music on different people is outstanding. People proactively choose the style, tempo and the pitch they want to listen to in music. In fact, this choice also determines how long the persons are ready to listen to the same music. This clearly affects their thought process, body metabolism and the personality that they assume in their lifestyles (Monglione).

The history of music and its connection to human psychology is mysterious. It is amusing how infants adapt to producing pleasant consonant sounds even at their inactive ages. Music gives the nervous system a delicious chill that is equivalent to feel-good pleasures to individuals. The mysterious million dollar question typically which surpasses biological understanding is why music has the ability to draw universal love and its innate unique power of sopping wet emotions (Weinberger 88). According to neuroscientists, there is no a particular innate place where music is processed in the brain. This is supported by studies on patients with brain injuries compared with brain scans of healthy individuals. The intricacy of the matter is that the ear as an organ possesses about 3,500 inner hair cells yet an eye has 100 million photoreceptors (Weinberger 93). This is an indication of how the relationship between the brain and music is mysterious.

In another case, a university of Toronto psychologist, Sandra Trehub, has developed a lab for testing whether the human brain is preloaded with music software just like computer laptop is with software. In the study, this psychologist places an infant on the laps and starts playing music. The infant, according to the study, assumes a sleeping posture but should the pitch and tempo change even on a slight mode, they become alert showing the detection of the brain to changes (Begley). A Fetus in the third tri-semester of pregnancy can hear the sound of music and be able to differentiate changes in musical outline (Costa-Giomi et al. 31).This is a clear indicator that the brain possibly is made in such a way that it can innately detect tempo, pitch and musical outline of music. Studies indicate that the brain is wired for music and that culture does not necessarily determine what music individuals like or not.

The connection between the brain and music is evident from many observations. Music ideally affects the brain in many a powerful ways. It incites infatuation, hostility, and tranquility among other moods (Sacks). It is quite mysterious that a certain crescendo in a movie can be involuntarily and correctly be associated with tragedy before it strikes (Begley). This is a true indication that the brain is specially innately adapted to music.

According to Lew, Insomnia is a sleep disorder that is estimated to affect more than 100 million Americans. In this case, many adults are reportedly said to have at least two days having problems transitioning between wakefulness and sleep (26). On the other hand, others who may not have problems falling asleep may have problems staying asleep. Galina Mindlin, a psychiatrist at Columbia University has resorted to using brain music therapy to combat insomnia (Lew 26).Brain music therapy is a technique that ensures people overcome anxiety and insomnia by utilizing their brain waves which they can convert to distinctive musical sounds. This therapy research shows that it can treat anxiety, depression, stress and headache. Additionally, it is good at improving efficiency, inventiveness and concentration.

Brain music therapy was first developed and used by a Russian doctor, Dr. Iakov in 1991. Today, the process has healed numerous patients across the world. In 2004, Mindlin was awarded exclusive rights to administer the therapy in U.S in her New York private practice clinic. The process of the therapy begins with Mindlin conducting an evaluation and assessment of the brain waves of the person. This is done by laying slides of a cap of plastic netting with embedded electrodes over the head of the patient. The main role of the electrodes is to record and conduct brain waves (Lew 26). In the process of recording, the patient is advised to concentrate on a soothing activity. This makes the electrodes record equivalent brain waves during such a situation. A computer then analyses the waves and technically produces music that resembles the brain waves recorded (Lew 26). The computer generated music sounds like ordinary played musical instruments, though Mindlin prefers to have them sound like a piano. The therapist thus produces two CD tracks for the patient one being designed for relaxation and another for activation. In this case, the patient ideally knows what music to use when desiring relaxation, production and improving focus through a technically laid down prescription.

In a funny but reliable study, music also has impact on animals and plants. For instance, by combining the right rhythm and melody in a poultry house, hens are bound to lay more eggs while cats are relaxed by music and as for dairy cows, they produce more milk when exposed to the right music (Monglione). The study on the effect of music on plants indicated that plants exposed softer music grew faster than those exposed on hard rock. This study is inconclusive but indicates that music plays a vital role in living things and not just in humans.

According to a research done in a Sleep Research Clinic in Toronto by Leonid Kayumov, the therapy reduced insomnia to 80% of the treated insomniacs. In this case, meditative music is effective in reducing stress due to its ability to decrease levels of cortisol and adrenalin, stress hormones secreted by adrenal glands (Lew 27). On the other hand, exciting songs increase the secretion of endorphins which are feel-good chemicals. Another cap to Kayumov research is that it indicated that brain music therapy when used for over two weeks on chronic insomnia patients led to increased secretion of melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. This is why the therapy reduces the insomnia.

The importance of this therapy is its reliability in obtaining results naturally. In this case, given that drugs are known to have long term negative effects, the therapy utilizes natural criteria of correcting body dysfunction (American Legion 14). Unlike drugs which are not administered on pregnant women, the therapy can since it uses a natural process where no chemicals form part of the treatment. Listening to different music gives the body the basis for thoughts, actions and internal body metabolism (Monglione).

Playing music familiar to a patient induces a feeling of security and optimism (Paul and David 114). This is due to the secretion of feel good hormones that go with a soothing music. Some rehabilitation like the restoration of motor functions can be long and tedious. This kind of patients, possibly brain injury patients, lack the capability of initiating movement. At worse, they lack the motion of assuming posture. A day schedule filled with extraneous occupational and physical therapies and speech and language training to enhance personal independency is tedious (Paul and David 111). However, most rehabs are opening a musical therapy segment to enable patients to participate, relax and learn playing musical instruments. In this case, the capability of handling a musical instrument and the process of playing music provides relaxation and a sense of triumph (Paul and David 114).

The enormity of the successful use of music is such that it has been used to assist in various mental conditions of patients. For instance, music improves memory for patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, it also improves attention and verbal communication in patients experiencing speech difficulties coupled with neurological diseases (Paul and David 115). Studies indicate that music enhances some forms of intelligence in persons. The brain holds a special place for music in its grey matter, a concept demonstrated by the ability of persons to remember many tunes while recognizing hundreds more while it may be difficult to remember a few passages in prose (Costa-Giomi et al. 31). It is vital to say that people need to be careful when choosing the type of music that they want the nervous system to get attuned to. Music ranges from cool jazz, hard rock, reggae, easy ones like martini and classical music (Jourdain).

Some neuroscientists argue that there is no such thing as a music center in the brain. To demonstrate this, they took brain scans of music composers who were suffering from either brain injury or stroke and compared with scans of other healthy individuals. The result was that there was no significant difference and as such no location in the brain could be labeled as a music center (Weinberger 90). However, the temporal lobes of the brain just behind the ears are believed to be the music center. Research by neurosurgeons indicates that a musical sensation can be induced through tickling of the temporal lobes behind the ears. Patients reportedly hear tunes leading to their asking whether there is a phonograph in the operating room.

Epileptic seizures neurologically speaking begin from these temporal lobes behind the ears. The power of music is such that it in fact triggers seizures in some epilepsy patients. However, not just any music will (Begley 51). This means that different patients will be triggered to seizure by different styles of music. In this case, some patients are triggered by hip-hop while others by Salsa. In some other cases, classical music is just enough to initiate seizures (Sacks). Music is required by persons of all ages (Costa-Giomi et al. 31). Musicogenic epilepsy is old as the illness. This is a condition where a person starts to feel fearful and disturbed whenever they listen to particular music. This leads to their running away from it or tuning it off (Sacks).

It seems that the brain is ideally changed by music. In the brain, the left and right hemispheres are joined by a trunk called corpus callosum. A study done by Dr. Gottfried Schlaug of Beth Israel deaconess Medical Center in Boston compared the corpus callosum of 30 non-musicians and another 30 professional pianists and string players. This comparison revealed some striking differences. In this case, the front part of the corpus callosum was found to be larger in musicians especially if they started training at a tender age (Costa-Giomi et al. 31). The front part of the corpus collasum connects the two sides of the prefrontal cortex which is the mental site for planning and foresight. Additionally, it connects the two sides of premotor cortex which is charged with the role of mapping actions before execution (Begley 52). The developments in the brain of musicians are clearly associated with their need for coordination in playing instruments like piano. Ideally, the developed corpus collasum is also attributable to the coordination of the left and right brains given that the left is associated with cognition and the right with emotion, the two forming critical requirements to a musician (Costa-Giomi et al. 33). It is still possible to develop the same features on the corpus collasum by rehearsing mentally as celebrated pianists Arthur Rubinstein and Vladimr Horowitz. The two hated practicing piano. While the former disliked sitting in front of a piano to practice for hours, the later feared that sitting and practicing would hurt his stage performance (Begley 52). However, mental rehearsals are enough to develop brain capacity in music.

Different types of personality choose actively the type of music to listen to showing clearly that this is not a brain thing. For instance, Jourdain notes that personality types will choose the type of music to listen to just like there are different types of drugs both legal and illegal. The type of music chosen by individuals proactively steers their central nervous system. Music is required by all humans (Sacks). In this case, rock music is a favorite of frequent users of cocaine, easy listening for martini while cool jazz for marijuana favorites (Jourdain).

As seen above, brain therapy increases concentration, creativity and production. This makes the prescription not one that is tied to the insomniacs. Persons whose careers and occupations require lots of creativity and concentration are reportedly using the therapy (Lew 27). For instance, businessmen and businesswomen are using the therapy to increase their mental production. Even artists and script writers are into the therapy to increase their creativity. The ability of the therapy to give a feeling of relaxation and increased concentration and focus has attracted professional athletes especially ahead of critical events (Lew 27). In this case, it is possible to say that when the therapy is used, it translates to training ones brain to work to their benefit rather that act as the undoing part.

The myth of music, body, mind and soul is an issue that is hilarious to researchers and analysts (American Legion 14). For instance, an amusing orchestral upsurge can bring to tears a person while at same time conveying shivers through their spinal cord (Weinberger 89). The phenomenon of music therapy is its ability to increase brain activity. The process of learning music has been successfully found to improve the performance of children in arithmetic (Begley 52). Although the association of music and improvement in mathematics can drive audiences to tears out of laugh, many researchers believe that there is some verity in the association. In this study, Gordon Shaw, a researcher at University of California, worked with three groups of students in second grade. 26 students were given piano instructions and teaching and a practice with a mathematics video game, another 29 were instead given extra English and mathematics game while the third group of 28 students got no special lessons. After four months, the results of the research bared the role of music on enhancing mathematical intelligence. The group that had piano instructions scored between 15-41 percent higher marks on a test of ratios and fractions than all the other kids (Begley 52).

However, skeptics believe the possibility of music enhancing performance in math is not innate wiring in the brain but the hormonal response of making schooling amusing and the reduced teacher-student distance that music creates in individuals. The nature of music instructions is such that there are regular training sessions and disintegration of the teacher-student barrier (Begley 52). According to analysts, if another method that releases feel-good hormones was used, then same results would be achieved. This makes music not such a special case in improving performance.

However, not all people are of the view that the brain and music are compatible. The hullabaloo of music and brain is only because it is the last sense that evolved among the touch, smell and see (Jourdain). It has long been believed that a study the inner workings of the brain is only possible by researching on peoples perception on music. In this case, former composers who either have undergone stroke or injury on the brain would provide a good conceptual platform (Weinberger). Some of the patients lacked the ability to write yet their conceptual ability of remembering composition and creative abilities remained. Another notable case is that of Vissarion Shebalin, a composer of Russia origin who unfortunately got brain incapacitation. Vissarion was unable to speak or understand speech yet he retained the capability of writing music for 10 years in that condition before death. This suggests that music and speech are possibly processed differently. Music ought to have notes that can make the body desire to dance and not any other characteristic (Jourdain).

The mysterious relationship between the brain and music still continues to boggle neurologists and the scientific community in general. Music plays various roles in the brains of humans. For instance, the astounding results of music brain therapy by Mindlin shows how the brain can be attuned into listening to own waves computerized to produce equivalent musical sounds. The therapy, in addition to treating insomniacs has been used to improve productivity, concentration and focus and brain creativity. The role of music in improving math intelligence of children too has been established. Moreover, although some analysts demonstrate that there is nothing like a music center in the brain, the temporal lobes behind the ears are considered to be the closest to what might be called the music center in the brain. Many studies have suggested the benefits such as improved traits, academic performance and development of aptitude courtesy of music. Finally, research shows that listening to high quality music is excellent, trying out with musical resonance is better and studying music and playing instruments is best.

It is now confirmed that music generally has a tremendous effect on patients suffering from strokes. Such patients are put on stroke therapy and according to studies, when music is included into their physiotherapy activities; both the social and emotional interaction between the patient and the physiotherapist is affected positively (Workman).Accordingly, patients increases their awareness and responsiveness, hence, their overall associations and relationships improve. In the recent survey, it was reported that when music is incorporated in any physiotherapy for stroke patients, their motivation rose, as they reported better moods and adopted positive image about themselves (Aldridge et al).Similarly, music is used to stimulate dancing. When this happens, patients recovering from after stroke effects or other physical and neurological disorders would find musical rhythm and dance hastening their recovery, because, after some considerable time, they would manage to walk and demonstrate other physiotherapeutic achievements (Horden,89-102).

Research literatures further report that most medical causalities especially those with autism, respond very positively to music. Their urge for music, the report suggests, increased immediately they became diagnosed of autism spectrum. Therefore, music is an effective tool with therapeutic healing (Bunt,68).With regard to this, music therapists suggests that music is an inexpensive and readily available medicine that can be dispensed to all patients in spanning degree to enhance their rate of healing. Patients, who expressed autism spectrum, displayed reduced interest in social interactions and communication at large and often manifested a more stereotyped set of behavior. What music does in this case is to stimulate patients to have an increased participation in relevant social behaviors (Woolfolk et al).

To the therapists and medical agents, music still plays a fundamental role. Over the years, staffs in the medical field have used music to reduce their stress levels and promote their health extensively. For example, a medical staff in the burn and scald unit use music to lessen the tension that is bound to be present in the unit, by listening to an audio clips of their favorite music as interludes. Consequently, music reduced the possibility of his increased pressure and muscular tension, improving his concentration to dispense his services more efficiently (Horden 115-118).

Since 1994, the medical field officially accepted music and music therapy as a reimbursed service operating on the basis of hospitalization programs. The primary goal was to package the healing process of common ailments in form of recreational services but in essence, it was intended to enhance the rate of recovery. As a result, most patients recorded an improved rate of healing when their motivation and self esteems levels increased considerably (Workman, 108-114). In accordance with the medical practices board, the kind of music to be prescribed had to follow the documented treatment plan.

There is seemingly an increase in the number of private agencies that have undertaken to offer medical services as an auxiliary extension to medical practice. In the past 10 years, there is a growing demand for music therapies around U.S. In response to this move, several music therapies are comparatively similar to health institutions and work hand in hand with other occupational therapist to provide regular assessments to patients who happen to be recuperating from health problems (Woolfolk et al 67-75).

Music can be used in the wider medical setting to achieve a continuum of benefits. Patients with chronic illness and feeling excessive endless pain, can be put on music therapy depending on their individualized situation .To begin with, the whole process can decrease the upsurge of psychological stress by pulling patients off the pain and as a result, giving them hope that there is subsequent healing on a later date (Bunt, 29-40).Secondly, for pediatric patients, music promotes the effectiveness of the immune system. It enhances the attention and mental faculty of the caregiver, against yielding to desperate distractions and thoughts. Finally, music therapy alters the overall perception of the patient regarding the causes and fate of their health especially those suffering from HIV/Aids (Aldridge et al 56-80).

For pregnant women on the verge of delivery, music serve as a tool used to focus their attention on certain aspects of life that are away from the painful exercise of delivery. For example, a woman who listens to music during delivery or when in labor pain may be programmed according to her choice and preferences of birth techniques; a factor that relieves her off her painful anxiety (Workman).


From the foregoing discussion, it is evident that music and music therapy are significant services to the emotional well-being, communication abilities, physical health and cognitive operations of patients. Medical experts have designed better models that guide the usage of music in the treatment of ailments and injuries. As such, music does not provide absolute healing but facilitates, alongside other medical services, the better environments for the healing process. Indeed, music as an aid to medical therapy does not discriminate against anybody .Instead it is applicable to everybody regardless of their ethical, cultural and gender orientation. Today, music therapy appears to be appropriate to all health needs and promote the healing as well as recovery of several health problems.

Work Cited

Aldridge, David et al, Clinical Practices and Music Therapy, Hawaii, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2002.

Bunt, Leslie, Music Therapy: Beyond an Art, New York, Routledge 2003

Horden, Peregrine. Music as Medicine: The history of Music Therepy.Chicago, Ashgate.2000

Woolfolk, L. Robert, et al. Principles of Music and Stress Management, San Diego, Guilford Press, 2007.

Workman, Linda. Surgical Nursing and Other Collaborative Care. Seattle, Saunders.2002

Begley, S. “Music on the Brain”, Newsweek136.4 (2000): 50-52

Casey, E. “Natural Healing: holistic wellness solutions”, Natural Health 39.5 (2009): 80-


Costa-Giomi, E et al., “Straight Talk about Music and Research”, Teaching Music 7.3 (1999): 29-34

Jourdain R, Music, The Brain and Ecstasy, 1998.2 July 2009 < >

Lew, K. “Brain Music Therapy”, American Fitness, 24.3 (2006): 26-27

Monglione S.F. Effect of Classical Music on the Brain, 2009.2 July 2009 < >

Paul, S and David, R. “Music therapy in physical medicine and rehabilitation”, Australian Occupational Therapy Journal 47.1 (2000):111-118

Sacks, O. The Power of Music, 2006.2 July 2009 < >

“The power of music” American Legion 166.4 (2009):14-14

Weinberger, N.M. “Music and the Brain”, Scientific American 291.5 (2004): 88-95

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