Maybe you’ve seen the Kaiser Permanente truck roll by with the “Music Is Therapy” poster on the side. Personally, I think that’s pretty cool. I’ve heard the term “music therapy” used to describe…uh…what exactly? Thus began a journey to figure it out. (Thank goodness for the internet, do you remember when we did all our research at the library or in the outdated Encyclopedia Britannica on the bookshelf at home? You youngsters, go look that up.)

I think this is both amazing and important and frankly, I had no idea…

  • From the American Cancer Society: “Researchers have found that music therapy, when used with anti-nausea drugs for patients receiving high-dose chemotherapy, can help ease nausea and vomiting. A number of clinical trials have shown the benefit of music therapy for short-term pain, including pain from cancer.”
  • From the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America: “Music has power—especially for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. And it can spark compelling outcomes even in the very late stages of the disease. “
  • From the National Institute of Health regarding Pediatric Oncology: “Music therapists can facilitate health objectives by reducing the intensity or duration of pain, alleviating anxiety, and decreasing the amount of analgesic medication needed… increased interaction, verbalization, independence, and cooperation; enhanced relationships with health care personnel and family members; and increased stimulation during long-term hospitalization or isolation.”
  • Also from the NIH on the subject of mental health: “Music therapy as an addition to standard care helps people with schizophrenia to improve their global state, mental state (including negative symptoms) and social functioning… results indicate that music has proven to be significantly effective in suppressing and combating the symptoms of psychosis.”
  • From the Autism Science Foundation: “Children with autism showed more emotional expression and social engagement during music therapy sessions than in play sessions without music. These children also responded to the therapist’s requests more frequently during music therapy than in play sessions without music.”
  • From the Emily Program eating disorder outpatient program: “It was difficult for the patient to find the words to talk about her experiences, but she could begin to share those through music. That felt safer and less threatening. So music was a way for her to begin to tell her story, especially those difficult parts that she had never talked about.”

Rather than an “alternative” voodoo sort of thing, music therapy has already made it to the big time and Masters’ programs are offered all of the major music college curriculums (Eastman, Juilliard, Berklee, etc.). This is also part of the Windward Choral Society’s mission and now that I’ve managed to educate myself a little, I’m excited about it!