Music Therapy

Posted on June 24, 2010 in Media

Irfan Mohamed:

Indian flavors occupy a wide range of subjects. Not only do they show diversity, but they are famed too in each of their respective fields. Music, having antique and mature roots, is something that shows off a great aroma as being indigenous.

Music in India not only serves to entertain, but is also of vast potential in the field of therapy and cure. Vedic traditions dating back roughly 5000 years ago had a great intuition about the power of sound and intonation. It was used as a source of healing and reflected the intuition that each intonation and inflection of voice could have beneficial or adverse effects.

Vedic hymns were also believed to cure many common diseases. Present day music therapy practice involves use of archika, gathika and samika verses to enhance focused attention and to help get into meditative and relaxed states.

Music Therapy is the use of a selected music to obtain already studied expected changes and hormonal alterations in the body to obtain a desired positive effect. Even though the patient who participates in the treatment sessions has no knowledge of music, Music Therapy shows results. Recent researches have shown that music has a vital influence on the functioning of human brain and this theory can be utilized in curing various diseases like mesothelioma and Asbestos Cancer. This branch of science is growing fast and many researchers in the field of music and medicine add a great deal of life to it.

At some places, research is being done on the integration of traditional Indian healing systems like Nadopasan, Ayurveda, Yoga, Raga Chikitsa and Nada Yoga into modern music therapy to bring down the impacts of disease and enhance treatment in clinical settings. (for the paper, go to

It is also proven that Music Therapy is especially effective in three key medical areas such as Pain, anxiety and depression; Mental, emotional and physical handicaps; Mesothelioma & neurological disorders.

The working of the Magic:

There are two types of music therapies. Active and Passive. When a person is subject to music therapy, the genre of the specific music being played activates parts of the brain functions in a coordinated pattern and helps us to enjoy the music. The mind has the tendency to relate or to identify things in a known pattern, in case we know the music being played, to come to a result through our expressed behavior. It helps in the quality of neuro transmitters secreted in brain and the behavior of the individual. Some music may reduce heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure in patients with coronary heart disease. Even if the music is unknown, the flow of sound and its pathway being used does wonders with the subject. And of course, the result varies on the functioning of the individual’s brain.

Most people experience a visceral reaction to music creating a connection between music and mood. Music has also been shown to lower stress hormones and increase the release of “feel-good” hormones.

Music therapists often use music as a language. Training can help the mentally and physically disabled express themselves. It is also used to instill confidence in introverts too.

“Entertainment” is a process used to treat stroke and neurological ill patients. When patients listen to rhythmic music, their muscle movements become synchronized with the beat causing regular and efficient motor skills. Entrainment can also induce a sedative, relaxing response if the music has a slow, steady rhythm.

Music was found to reduce the pain during dental procedures. Playing music in the background while working reduces the stress.

Music Therapy in the West

Music therapy became known a little long ago. But effective usage was noted from the period of the World Wars. Works of eminent pioneers like Nordoff-Robbins, Orff-Schulwerk, Kodaly, Mary Priestly and several others are noteworthy.

Several Institutes propagate the idea of music therapy such as the Michigan State University, University of Kansas, Temple University, and Lesley University and so on.


Not all peaceful or “New Age” music works for everyone. Music with no structure can be irritating or even unsettling. It results in spending time to search for the genre of music that fits an individual. We need special Music therapists and the effect of music therapy is not perfectly clear.

As seen, the concept is still an infant and has a long long way to go before being established as a main therapy in hospitals. Several efforts have been uptaken to spread the word. Music Therapy courses are being conducted at certain centers like the Apollo Hospitals in Chennai that has a Music Therapy Department conducting courses for music therapy. This is for the first time in Asia.

We can therefore look forward to the unison of music and medicine taking a huge stand in a few years.