Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

MIND and body

Music finding a place in health care

If you Google "medical myths" you might get some surprises. Late night snacking doesn't make us fatter and drinking eight glasses of water daily doesn't make us healthier. Who knew?

Many of us firmly believe another myth: Western medicine, largely based on drugs and surgery, is the only safe and reliable way to cure illness. This is beginning to change.

Case in point: Some medical professionals are finding that you can enhance your memory, reduce pain, alleviate depression and relax at the same time without drugs or surgery. How?

Turn on some music.

A Mayo Clinic blog notes, much research has been done on the physical and emotional effects of music. Some of the benefits that have been noted in research include:

• Enhances memory

• Reduces pain sensation

• Counteracts depression

• Encourages feelings of relaxation.

A report from Health magazine says: "Researchers from Drexel University found that cancer patients who either listened to music or worked with a music therapist experienced a reduction in anxiety. Music was associated with . . . benefits in mood, pain, heart and respiratory rates, and blood pressure, according to a systematic review by the Cochrane Collaboration, which evaluates primary research and evidence-based medicine."

Dr. Lisa Wong stands at the intersection of music and medicine. The pediatrician at Massachusetts General Hospital just finished a 20-year run as president of the Longwood Symphony Orchestra.

She is also the author of a new book, Scales to Scalpels: Doctors Who Practice the Healing Arts of Music and Medicine. In a recent Boston Globe interview, Wong said:

"Music has a way of reaching a deeper core in a person than sometimes can be touched in any other way, even beyond words. With autistic children, with patients with Alzheimer's — people who have lost their verbal language still have musical language. Young [amputees] who don't want to put in an hour a day of occupational therapy will practice (a musical instrument) for 10 hours a day just to get things right. The music is driving them, and their executive function skills improve, their focus comes back, their self-esteem (builds)."

I remember the hopeless sadness I felt right after my dad's passing. I was looking out at a blurry, bleak landscape, trying to find my way out of the darkness. At one point I decided that listening to my father's favorite hymn, set to his favorite music, Beethoven's 9th symphony, might help. When the famous Ode to Joy in the fourth movement started up, I could hear the opening verse of the hymn, "Father, we thy loving children lift our hearts in joy today."

It felt like I was at the very source of all joy, and that joy was infinitely more powerful than grief. I felt the grief dissolve. It never returned.

There's no doubt in my mind that music can be a powerful healing force in our lives. Medical myths will continue to come and go. And research will continue to reveal healing solutions, like music, that shift the focus from the body to the mind and the spirit.

Bob Clark is a Christian Science practitioner from Belleair. Read his blog at

Music finding a place in health care 06/27/12 [Last modified: Thursday, June 28, 2012 2:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trigaux: How Moffitt Cancer's M2Gen startup won $75 million from Hearst


    TAMPA — A Moffitt Cancer Center spin-off that's building a massive genetic data base of individual patient cancer information just caught the attention of a deep-pocketed health care investor.

    Richard P. Malloch is the president of Hearst Business Media, which is announcing a $75 million investment in M2Gen, the for-profit cancer informatics unit spun off by Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center. Malloch's job is to find innovative investments for the Hearst family fortune. A substantial amount has been invested in health care, financial and the transportation and logistics industries.
  2. A boat lays on its side off the shore of Sainte-Anne on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, early Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, after the passing of Hurricane Maria. [Dominique Chomereau-Lamotte | Associated Press]
  3. 7.1 magnitude quake kills at least 149, collapses buildings in Mexico


    MEXICO CITY — A magnitude 7.1 earthquake stunned central Mexico on Tuesday, killing at least 149 people as buildings collapsed in plumes of dust. Thousands fled into the streets in panic, and many stayed to help rescue those trapped.

    A woman is lifted on a stretcher from of a building that collapsed during an earthquake in Mexico City, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. [Rebecca Blackwell | Associated Press]
  4. FHP seeks semitrailer truck driver that left fiery wreck on I-75


    TAMPA — The Florida Highway Patrol is looking for the driver of a semitrailer truck that sped off from an Interstate 75 crash that left another car burning on Tuesday afternoon.

    Troopers were looking for the driver of a semitrailer truck that sped off from an accident scene on Interstate 75 in Tampa on Tuesday afternoon that caused a car to catch fire. [Courtesy of Florida Highway Patrol]
  5. Joe Maddon gets warm reception in return to the Trop

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The night was arranged to honor former Rays manager Joe Maddon in his first visit back to the Trop, and the standing ovation from the bipartisan crowd and scoreboard video tribute seemed proper acknowledgments of his hefty role in the Rays' success during his nine-year stint.

    Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70) talks with reporters during a press conference before the start of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.