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Table of Contents > Articles > Music: A Healing Art
Music: A Healing Art

A recent study by researchers at the University of Pavia in Italy concludes that music therapy (MT) may have a beneficial effect on relieving the suffering of those with Parkinson's disease and in maximizing their quality of life. These same benefits may extend to other chronic and incurable diseases, such as:

  • Patients with physically and mentally handicapping conditions
  • Patients before and after surgery and invasive medical procedures
  • Following heart attack, respiratory failure and advanced cancer
  • Patients with Alzheimer's disease
  • Patients in geriatric care facilities

MT is an active therapy: meaning you, the patient, are the one who creates the music, as opposed to passively listening to music. The key to the therapy rests in your efforts. Creative genius is definitely not required. Researchers claim that the making of music helps to achieve a more relaxed and happy state of mind. Often MT is used along with physical or other therapies, nutritional and psychological counseling, all aimed at achieving optimal physiological and emotional function.

The creative arts are becoming more widely used in the care of patients with chronic illnesses of many kinds.

However, MT is not a new therapy. According to medical literature, MT is the longest established of the creative healing arts in the United States. MT heals through increasing endorphin neuropeptide release, enhancing immune function, reducing corticosteroid hormonal levels, and modifying brain wave activity. Many of the physiological effects resemble those achieved with meditation, yoga, t'ai chi, biofeedback, and other holistic approaches that emphasize overall well being.

Engaging in other creative arts may produce the results similar to those from MT. Studies in diverse settings have recorded significant benefits in physical, mental, spiritual, and social health from the active involvement in the creative activity, as opposed to being simply passive recipients. Another particular benefit of MT is the way it brings groups of people together. This makes it a valuable tool for encouraging communal as well as personal health, something most cultures have long recognized and valued.

Incorporating MT into your treatment can be very simple, inexpensive and straightforward, once you have reassured you doctor and his or her staff that you want to do it. Music therapists are increasingly able to bill insurance companies for their services, making it easy at least for larger general practices to hire such practitioners without any financial outlay. The rising cost of healthcare and prescription drugs, it becomes important to seek out cost-effective and nontoxic therapies. The skills required are readily available through motivated musicians. The point of becoming actively involved in music making is not to achieve a particular skill standard but to simply experience the creative process of music and rhythmic movement for its own sake.


Graham-Pole, J. Making Music. The Integrative Consult. August 2000.

Review Date: December 2000
Reviewed By: Integrative Medicine editorial

Copyright © 2004 A.D.A.M., Inc

The publisher does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of the information or the consequences arising from the application, use, or misuse of any of the information contained herein, including any injury and/or damage to any person or property as a matter of product liability, negligence, or otherwise. No warranty, expressed or implied, is made in regard to the contents of this material. No claims or endorsements are made for any drugs or compounds currently marketed or in investigative use. This material is not intended as a guide to self-medication. The reader is advised to discuss the information provided here with a doctor, pharmacist, nurse, or other authorized healthcare practitioner and to check product information (including package inserts) regarding dosage, precautions, warnings, interactions, and contraindications before administering any drug, herb, or supplement discussed herein.

Alzheimer's Disease
Parkinson's Disease

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