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Music and sound therapy

Did you know?

The auditory system of the fetus is fully functional about 20 weeks after conception.

A child recognizes and prefers music he was exposed to in the womb. 

everyone can respond to music, no matter how ill or disabled.

Aristotle described music as a force that purified the emotions. 

Adolescents may listen to music for its therapeutic qualities, but that does not mean every adolescent needs music therapy.

Music therapists may work with individuals who have behavioral-emotional disorders. 

Music is a 'universal behavior'; it is something that everyone can identify with.

Among adolescents, music is a unifying force, bringing people of different backgrounds, age groups, and social groups together.

When music therapy is used in conjunction with traditional therapy it improves success rates.

Research suggests that listening to Mozart's piano sonata K448 can reduce the number of seizures in people with epilepsy - This is called the "Mozart effect."

Live music was used in hospitals after both of the World Wars, as part of the regime for some recovering soldiers.

The unique qualities of music as therapy can enhance communication, support change, and enable people to live more resourcefully and creatively. 

Ethnomusicology is the study of music in its cultural context, or the anthropology of music.


Music therapy can help children with communication, attention, motivation, and behavioral problems.

Music can provide a sense of independence and individuality, which in turn contributes to one's own self discovery and sense of identity.

Music can serve as a creative outlet to release or control emotions and find ways of coping with difficult situations.

Music can improve one's mood by reducing stress and lowering anxiety levels, which can help counteract or prevent depression.

Music therapy decreases depression, improves the mood and reduces anxiety.

Music can increase patient's motivation and positive emotions.

Music can reduce heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure in patients with coronary heart disease. 

Answer these questions:

What is NMT and what does it do?

"Neurological music therapy" (NMT) studies how the brain is without music, with music, measures the differences, and uses the differences to make changes in the brain through music that will gradually affect you non-musically. 



Music therapy is an allied health profession and one of the expressive therapies, consisting of an interpersonal process in which a trained music therapist uses music and all of its facets- physical, emotional, mental, social, aesthetic, and spiritual - to help clients to improve or maintain their health. 

Music therapists primarily help clients improve their health across various domains (cognitive functioning, motor skills, emotional and affective development, behavior and social skills, and quality of life) by using music experiences (free improvisation, singing, songwriting, listening to and discussing music, moving to music) to achieve treatment goals and objectives. 

It is considered both an art and a science, with a qualitative and quantitative research literature base incorporating areas such as clinical therapy, biomusicology, musical acoustics, music theory, psychoacoustics, embodied music cognition, aesthetics of music and comparative musicology. Referrals to music therapy services may be made by other health care professionals such as physicians, psychologists, physical therapists and occupational therapists. Clients can also choose to pursue music therapy services without a referral (self-referral).

Music therapists are found in nearly every area of the helping professions. Some commonly found practices include developmental work (communication, motor skills, etc.) with individuals with special needs, songwriting and listening in reminiscence/orientation work with the elderly, processing and relaxation work and rhythmic entrainment for physical rehabilitation in stroke victims. 

Music therapy is also used in some medical hospitals, cancer centers, schools, alcohol and drug recovery programs, psychiatric hospitals and correctional facilities.

The Turco-Persian psychologist and music theorist al-Farabi, known as "Alpharabius" in Europe, dealt with music therapy in his treatise Meanings of the Intellect, where he discussed the therapeutic effects of music on the soul.

Robert Burton wrote in the 17th century in his classic work, The Anatomy of Melancholy, that music and dance were critical in treating mental illness, especially melancholia.


Music has been used as a healing force for centuries.

Music therapy goes back to biblical times, when David played the harp to rid King Saul of a bad spirit. 

As early as 400 B.C., Hippocrates, Greek father of medicine, played music for his mental patients. 

In the thirteenth century, Arab hospitals contained music-rooms for the benefit of the patients.

In the United States, Native American medicine men often employed chants and dances as a method of healing patients.

Music therapy as we know it began in the aftermath of World Wars I and II. 

Musicians would travel to hospitals, particularly in the United Kingdom, and play music for soldiers suffering from war-related emotional and physical trauma.


Approaches used in music therapy that have emerged from the field of education include Orff-Schulwerk (Orff), Dalcroze Eurhythmics, and Kodaly. 

Two models that developed directly out of music therapy are Nordoff-Robbins and the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music.

To meet the needs of this population, music therapists have taken current psychological theories and used them as a basis for different types of music therapy. 

Different models include behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and psychodynamic therapy.

One therapy model based on neuroscience, called "neurological music therapy" (NMT), is "based on a neuroscience model of music perception and production, and the influence of music on functional changes in non-musical brain and behavior functions." 

In other words, NMT studies how the brain is without music, how the brain is with music, measures the differences, and uses these differences to cause changes in the brain through music that will eventually affect the client non-musically. 

As one researcher, Dr. Thaut, said: "The brain that engages in music is changed by engaging in music." 

NMT trains motor responses (i.e. tapping foot or fingers, head movement, etc.) to better help clients develop motor skills that help "entrain the timing of muscle activation patterns".

Music therapy for children

Two common approaches are used when conducting music therapy with children: either as a one-on-one session or in a group setting.

When a therapist meets with a child for the first time, the therapist and child develop goals to be met during the duration of their sessions.

Therapy rooms should have a wide range of different instruments from different places. They should also be colorful, and have different textures. The therapist should either play a piano or guitar to keep everything grounded and in rhythm. The most important thing, though, is to have high quality and well-maintained instruments. As some children will be able to handle an instrument while others cannot, the child should be given an instrument adapted to them. 

All these elements help the experience and outcome of the music therapy go better and have more successes for the child. In fact according to Daniel Levitin, it started inside the womb, surrounded by amniotic fluid, the fetus hears sounds. It hears the mother's heartbeat, at times speed up, at other times slow down, not only that but other music, conversations and environmental noises. Alexandra Lamont of Keele University in the UK discovered the fetus hears music. She found that, a year after they are born, children recognize and prefer music they were exposed to in the womb. 

Adolescents with mood disorders: Music and mood disorders

According to the Mayo Health Clinic, out of every 100,000 adolescents, two to three thousand will have mood disorders, out of which 8-10 will commit suicide. Two prevalent mood disorders in the adolescent population are clinical depression and bipolar disorder.

On average American adolescents listens to approximately 4.5 hours of music per day and are responsible for 70 percent of pop music sales. Now with the invention of new technologies, such as the iPod and digital downloads, access to music has become easier than ever. As children make the transition into adolescence they become less likely to sit and watch TV, an activity associated with family, and spend more of their leisure time listening to music, an activity associated with friends.

Adolescents have identified many benefits of listening to music, including emotional, social, and daily life benefits, along with the formation of one's own identity. Music offers adolescents with relatable messages that allow them to take comfort in knowing that others feel the same way they do. 

Music education programs provide adolescents with a safe place to express themselves and learn life skills such as self-discipline, diligence, and patience. 

The school programs promote confidence and self esteem. Ethnomusicologist Alan Merriam (1964) once stated that music is a 'universal behavior'; it is something that everyone can identify with. 

Referrals and assessments

Many adolescents may go through a period of teenage angst, characterized by intense feelings of strife, caused by the development of their brains and bodies. Some adolescents can also develop more serious mood disorders such as major clinical depression and bipolar disorder. Adolescents diagnosed with a mood disorder may be referred to a music therapist based on observations by the diagnosing physician, therapist, or school counselor/teacher. When a music therapist gets a referral it is important to first assess the patient and create goals and objectives before beginning the actual music therapy. According to the American Music Therapy Association Standards of Clinical Practice assessments should include the 'general categories of psychological, cognitive, communicative, social, and physiological functioning focusing on the client's needs and strengths, and will also determine the client's response to music, music skills, and musical preferences'. The result of the assessment is used to create an individualized music therapy intervention plan.

There are many different music therapy assessment tools, but one particularly suited to adolescents is the 'Music Therapy Assessment for Emotionally Disturbed Children',. The term 'emotionally disturbed children' refers to a diverse group of diagnoses including behavioral disorders, schizophrenia, affective/mood disorders, autism, anxiety disorders, and attachment disorders. This assessment concentrates not only on the facts of developmental skills but on the quality, content, and development of these affective behaviors. This music therapy assessment tool consists of seven main areas. The assessment starts with an interview with the patient regarding his and their family's previous background in music. Next, the music therapist is to assess developmental appropriateness of the patient's social and emotional functioning while in the music therapy setting, and then assess the patient's ability to organize his musical experience. An important part of the assessment is to follow the changes in musical behaviors exhibited by the patient over the course of the session, and find any possible meanings in these variations. While interpreting the patient's musical behavior, the music therapist must consider family history, current behavioral problems, affective developmental levels, and the patient's current diagnosis. Last, the music therapist must investigate musical responses characteristic of the patient's particular pathology.

Another assessment tool for adolescents is the Beech Brook Music Therapy Assessment. This assessment measures the patient's behavioral and social functioning, emotional responsiveness, language and communication skills, and musical skills. Beech Brook, a child oriented treatment facility in Cleveland, Ohio, designed this assessment to help evaluate children beginning music therapy and then throughout the music therapy process, and focuses more on the reasons for referral than the previously mentioned assessment. This assessment uses a quantitative numbered scoring system in which the total score indicates an overall trend of behavior exhibited by a client. Both of these assessment tools help the music therapist plan the client's treatment process and also establish credibility though accountability.

Treatment techniques

There are many different music therapy techniques used with adolescents. The music therapy model is based on various theoretical backgrounds such as psychodynamic, behavioral, and humanistic approaches. Techniques can be classified as active vs. receptive and improvisational vs. structured. The most common techniques in use with adolescents are musical improvisation, the use of precomposed songs or music, receptive listening to music, verbal discussion about the music, and the use of creative media outlets incorporated into the music therapy. Research also showed that improvisation and the use of other media were the two techniques most often used by the music therapists. The overall research showed that adolescents in music therapy 'change more when discipline-specific music therapy techniques, such as improvisation and verbal reflection of the music, are used'. The results of this study showed that music therapists should put careful thought and deliberation into their choice of technique with each individual client. In the end, those choices can effect the positive or negative outcomes of music therapy treatment.

To those unfamiliar with music therapy the idea may seem a little strange, but music therapy has been found to be as effective as traditional forms of therapy. In a meta-analysis of the effects of music therapy for children and adolescents with psychopathology, Gold, Voracek, and Wigram (2004) looked at 10 previous studies conducted between 1970 and 1998 to examine the overall efficacy of music therapy on children and adolescents with psychopathology, which can be broken down into three distinct categories: behavioral disorders, emotional disorders and developmental disorders. The results of the meta-analysis found that 'music therapy with these clients has a highly significant, medium to large effect on clinically relevant outcomes'. More specifically, music therapy was most effective on subjects with mixed diagnoses. Another important result was that 'the effects of music therapy are more enduring when more sessions are provided'.

Music therapists work with these adolescents on increasing emotional and cognitive stability, identifying contributing factors of current distress, and initiating changes to alleviate that distress. Music therapy may also focus on improving quality of life and building self-esteem, a sense self-worth, and confidence. Improvements in these areas can be measured by a number of tests, including qualitative questionnaires like Beck's Depression Inventory, State and Trait Anxiety Inventory, and Relationship Change Scale. Effects of music therapy can also be observed in the patient's demeanor, body language, and changes in awareness of mood.

Group meetings and one-one sessions are two main methods for music therapy. Group music therapy can include group discussions concerning moods and emotions in/to music, songwriting, and musical improvisation. Groups emphasizing mood recognition and awareness, group cohesion, and improvement in self-esteem can be effective in working with adolescents. Group therapy, however, is not always the best choice for the client. Ongoing one-on-one music therapy has also been shown to be effective. One-on-one music therapy provides a non-invasive, non-judgmental environment, encouraging clients to show capacities that may be hidden in group situations.

Though more research needs to be done of the effect of music therapy on adolescents with mood disorders, most research has been finding positive effects.

In heart disease

According to a 2009 Cochrane review of 23 clinical trials, it was found that some music may reduce heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure in patients with coronary heart disease. Benefits included a decrease in blood pressure, heart rate, and levels of anxiety in heart patients. However, the effect was not consistent across studies, according to Joke Bradt, PhD, and Cheryl Dileo, PhD, both of Temple University in Philadelphia. Music did not appear to have much effect on patients' psychological distress. "The quality of the evidence is not strong and the clinical significance unclear", the reviewers cautioned. In 11 studies patients were having cardiac surgery and procedures, in nine they were MI patients, and in three cardiac rehabilitation patients. The 1,461 participants were largely white (average 85 percent) and male (67 percent). In most studies, patients listened to one 30-minute music session. Only two used a trained music therapist instead of prerecorded music.

Treatment of neurological disorders

The use of music therapy (MT) in treating mental and neurological disorders is on the rise. MT has showed effectiveness in treating symptoms of many disorders, including schizophrenia, amnesia, dementia and Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, mood disorders such as depression, aphasia and similar speech disorders, and Tourette's syndrome, among others.

The following sections will discuss the uses and effectiveness of MT in the treatment of specific pathologies.


MT is used with schizophrenic patients to ameliorate many of the symptoms of the disorder. Individual studies of patients undergoing MT showed diminished negative symptoms -- such as flattened affect, speech issues, and anhedonia - and improved social symptoms, such as increased conversation ability, reduced social isolation, and increased interest in external events.

Alzheimer's and dementia

Alzheimer's and dementia are two of the diseases most commonly treated with MT. Like many of the other disorders mentioned, some of the most common significant effects are seen in social behaviors, leading to improvements in interaction, conversation and other such skills.


Some symptoms of amnesia have been shown to be alleviated through various interactions with music, including playing and listening.


Music therapy has been found to have numerous significant outcomes for patients with major depressive disorder. 


Melodic intonation therapy (MIT) is a commonly used method of treating aphasias, particularly those involving speech deficits (as opposed to reading or writing). MIT is a multi-stage treatment that involves committing words and speech rhythm to memory by incorporating them into song. The musical and rhythmic aspects are then separated from the speech and phased out, until the patient can speak normally. This method has slight variations between adult patients and child patients, but both follow the same basic structure.

In epilepsy

Research suggests that listening to Mozart reduces the number of seizures. This is the "Mozart effect."




Sound Wave Energy Frequencies (SWE)

"SWE" is a holistic approach to healing the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of the person; enabling the individual to return to a state of harmony and balance through the use of sound frequencies.

We have entered a "new age" of holistic healing for ourselves, and our planet. Our consciousness, and awareness, are rapidly expanding, and our bodies are beginning to rebel against all of the un-natural substances we have used to "cure" ourselves of this dis-ease, or that one. As a result, many of us are now choosing to take an active role in our health. No longer content to passively swallow the latest "cure all" treatment that comes along. Many people believe that light, and sound therapy are the tools for true transformation of all levels. Specific frequencies have the ability to bring a myriad of changes, both positive and negative, to the body. Among some of the beneficial changes are: increased vitality, circulation, calmness, well-being, personal growth and empowerment, energy, balanced emotions, harmonious personal growth, even a deeper connection to our Source through spiritual growth. Sound healing represents a natural, alternative, holistic approach to wellness for body, mind, and spirit.

Sound Wave Energy was founded in 1992 by French-Canadian Nicole La Voie. Nicole is the creator of the sound wave energy technology (vibrational frequencies), she is an international lecturer, and author of "Return to Harmony: Creating Harmony and Balance through the Frequencies of Sound."

As a hospital based X-Ray Technician, Nicole was exposed to harmful x-rays during her pregnancy, and her son was born with many deficiencies. At the early age of five his glandular system ceased functioning. He then needed hormone replacement therapy, which improved his condition only marginally. Also, during this time, Nicole herself developed osteoporosis.

Driven by these experiences, and the desire to help her son, she studied Sacred Geometry, Rife technology, worked with crystals, and Homeopathy, became a Reiki Master, and eventually found her way to research in Sound Therapy. This led her to develop the system of frequencies known as Sound Wave Energy (SWE), which has healed her, her son, and many others' with challenges, at all levels.

Nicole is now totally committed to sharing this simple, effective technique for empowering people to support their own Return to Harmony. Practicioners of psychology, massage therapy, teachers of human spirituality, and various other healing modalities, have incorporated SWE frequencies into their practice, and are reporting dramatic increases in the effectiveness of their work.

The Principle of Resonance

Matter is organized by waveforms and frequencies. We all know that if we have two violins that are tuned exactly the same, and we pluck a string on one of the violins, the plucked string will produce a field of sound energy, that will trigger the other violin's matching string to begin to vibrate, and produce the same sound. This is called "resonance," and it happens naturally.

Resonance is a basic principle that affects everyone and everything, all the time. This same principle applies for a person in need of physical healing, and/or mental and emotional transformation. The correct frequency reminds the body's energy field of its original blueprint, and brings it into harmony. When we are in the presence of a person who is expressing joy, the energy field of their joy brings our own joy to the surface, so we resonate together. This is true of other manifestations of this principle, in both positive and negative ways.

Each cell takes part in the symphony of our body. Our role as a conductor is to orchestrate harmony. When a musician (organ or system), produces a sour note, we bring them back into harmony by helping them to retune their instrument, or refocus their attention. We don't cover up their disharmony or remove them from the orchestra. Each musician (or part of the body), is important in its Divine Expression for the creation of the symphony.

There appears to be a correlation between a specific frequency and the atomic weight of the elements. For instance, if the note of "C" is low in a person's voice, chances are the element of the zinc is also low in the body. The frequency of the note of "C" at the second octave is 65.40 cycles per second (hertz), and the atomic weight of the element of zinc is 65.37. So by listening to the frequency of the zinc the cells of the body will receive the vibration; and when the person eats foods that contain zinc, the body will resonate with this vibration and absorb the zinc. Not only will the body become more balanced, but the voice will improve; for it will produce all the notes in a more harmonious way.

SWE frequencies are based upon Sacred Geometry and the frequencies of minerals, vitamins, noble gases, amino acids and hormones. These frequencies balance and harmonize the Physical, Emotional, Mental and Spiritual bodies. These different tones will help us achieve balance and eventually we will each hear our own harmonic symphony, creating peace in mind and heart.


Interesting link to follow:

Brain Music Therapy finds, records, and reinforces brain waves that are associated with various physiological parameters, such as heart rate and muscle tension.

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