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Music Medicine: About Music Medicine

What is MusicMedicine?

Music has had a role in medicine and therapy for centuries and in many cultures.  Plato wrote about music's therapeutic properties in Laws, written sometime around 360 BCE.  And various Native American and African cultures used it in shamannistic healing rituals.  Music therapy got its beginning in the United States after World War I when musicians performed for hospitalized soldiers, and it became even more popular after World War II. (Hadley, Richard T. & Hadley, Wynton H. 2001. Music therapy: A Treatment Modality for Special-Needs Populations. International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling. 23, pp. 215-221.)

Music therapy is a psychotherapeutic process in that it is a form of treatment in which a trained person establishes a professional relationship with a goal of removing, modifying, or retarding existing symptoms, of mediating disturbed patterns of behavior, and of promoting positive personality growth and development. (Binder, Binder & Remland 1976 _Modern therapies_. Englewood Cliff, NJ: Prentice Hall.)

Music Medicine is an umbrella term encompassing music therapy and the scientific research on which it's based.  Researchers are studying the use of music in the treatment of a variety of conditions and illnesses; for example, it's use with premature infants, patients with Parkinson's disease, chronic pain, stress, Alzheimer's disease, as well as in stroke rehabilitation.

Related Articles

Music as Medicine.
Novotney, Amy. Monitor on Psychology. 2013 Nov; 44(10):46.

Researchers are exploring how music therapy can improve health outcomes among a variety of patient populations, including premature infants and people with depression and Parkinson’s disease.

Medicine and Music: Three Relations Considered.
Evans HM. Journal of Medical Humanities. 2007 Sep; 28(3):135-48.

Two well-recognised, but inherently reductionist, relations between medicine and music are the attempted neuro-scientific understanding of responses to music and interest in music's contributions to clinical therapy. This paper proposes a third relation whereby music is seen as an organising metaphor for clinical medicine as a practice. Both music and clinical medicine affirm human well-being, and both do this inter alia through varieties of skilful, crafted yet spontaneous mutual engagement between a 'performer' and an 'audience'. I argue that this organising metaphor offers a corrective to the reductionist influences of the first two relations, illuminates a number of medicine's important features, and reaffirms the existential as being at the core of medicine's telos.

Music, Medicine and Embodiment
Evans HM. Lancet. 2010 March 13; 375(9718): 886–887.

No abstract available

The Future of Music in Therapy and Medicine.
Thaut MH. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 2005 Dec; 1060:303-8.

The understanding of music's role and function in therapy and medicine is undergoing a rapid transformation, based on neuroscientific research showing the reciprocal relationship between studying the neurobiological foundations of music in the brain and how musical behavior through learning and experience changes brain and behavior function. Through this research the theory and clinical practice of music therapy is changing more and more from a social science model, based on cultural roles and general well-being concepts, to a neuroscience-guided model based on brain function and music perception. This paradigm shift has the potential to move music therapy from an adjunct modality to a central treatment modality in rehabilitation and therapy.