What Are the Benefits of Music Therapy?

Lily Ruha

The benefits of music therapy include greater relaxation, concentration, cognitive improvements and relief from some mental illness symptoms. Soft and slow music is often soothing and relaxing, helping mitigate physical conditions that can be aggravated by greater stress. Some individuals who have autism or attention disorders experience greater focus when listening to music. People who have mental illnesses characterized by depression or anxiety often experience more balanced moods after music therapy. Music therapy also has been used to improve cognitive challenges of the elderly.

Listening to music may help promote relaxation and healing.
Listening to music may help promote relaxation and healing.

Stress reduction is among the many benefits of music therapy. Listening to music can result in greater relaxation. The enjoyment of listening to music releases endorphins that help reduce stress and contribute to greater calmness. Improved sleep and enhanced productivity also have been associated with listening to music.

Music therapy might help those with mental illnesses, such as depression.
Music therapy might help those with mental illnesses, such as depression.

The benefits of music therapy extend to heart patients, many of whom exhibit a decreased number of cardiac complications. Listening to music that has slow and soft beats can reduce blood pressure and slow the heart rate. Less pain and a decreased need for oxygen also have been observed in patients after music therapy sessions.

Surgical patients also benefit from music. Anxiety reduction, a decreased need for anesthesia during procedures and a reduced need for medication following surgery are among the observed benefits. In the operating room, surgeons also benefit from music that relaxes them and allows them to concentrate on the procedure.

The benefits of music therapy also apply to autistic patients. Normal brain cells rely on natural rhythms to generate brain responses. Autistic patients generally experience less of this natural brain rhythm. Music helps people with this condition by organizing brain stimuli into a more consistent pattern.

Individuals who have attention deficit disorders also experience the benefits of music therapy. Strong, rhythmic beats accelerate brainwaves in some people who have these disorders. Greater concentration, stronger performance on cognitive tests and a reduction in behavioral issues have been observed in young boys who have attention deficit disorder and who have undergone music therapy.

Some people who suffer from a mental illness also experience relief from music therapy. Bipolar patients sometimes experience greater balance in moods after listening to music. Music lifts the mood in many depressed patients. Schizophrenic patients often exhibit greater understanding of the context and intent in conversations after listening to music.

Music also helps elderly people who have cognitive issues. New sounds and stimuli increase blood flow in the brain. After listening to music, some older adults exhibit better performance on cognitive tests.

Music therapy may help traumatized children express themselves.
Music therapy may help traumatized children express themselves.

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Discussion Comments


I think music works so well for therapy because it has a direct line of communication with the brain. A song or piece of music can immediately remind me of something from my past and I am immediately happy, sad, fearful or excited, depending on the memories and feelings I associate with the particular piece of music or song.


Before football games our coaches encouraged us to listen to loud, you might say violent, music. The music was a great way for us to get pumped up and ready for the physical encounters we were going to have during the game.

In our locker room, the music of choice was usually some really hard rap or hard rock. Basic pop ballads and love songs don't carry the energy you need to get pumped up for a football game.


The idea of formally using music as a means of treating people for various conditions is relatively new. However, I think we have always known, subconsciously anyway, that music had the power to calm us and to make us feel better about ourselves and our lives.

If you have teenage kids, or if you spend time around kids in general then you know the importance of music in their lives. As we get older, many of us think we are too busy with adult issues to make time for our musical interests. This is unfortunate because the music that we are not making time for could have a major positive effect on our daily lives.

We should all make a bit of time each day to rock out to the music of our choice, whether it is classical, rock or rap. Music soothes the soul, relaxes the mind and maybe heals the body.

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