Strings of Mercy

Changing the way we care for the suffering through Live Therapeutic Music

What is Live Therapeutic Music?

Live Therapeutic Music (LTM) is live, acoustic music played at a patient’s bedside by a Certified Music Practitioner.  Music Practitioners observe and assess individual patients and play music based on that patient’s symptoms and current condition, providing a restful, calming environment where healing may occur.  

Medicine (Medication) and Live Therapeutic Music work together to bring comfort

Medicine and Live Therapeutic Music

When used with conventional medical interventions, LTM is effective in helping patients stabilize or better manage various symptoms of pain, anxiety, or agitation. By assessing and continually monitoring a patient’s condition, the Music Practitioner is able to adjust the music based on the patient’s response.  LTM complements traditional medicine by providing a safe and effective care plan for the patient.

Differences Between LTM and Music Therapy

LTM is a complementary, alternate intervention that uses acoustic sound (presented in a musical form) as an external agent to impact a patient’s health.  LTM helps mitigate unwanted physiologic / psychologic symptoms and can be thought of as a form of sound therapy, since it emphasizes the sonic characteristics of music as the element that positively impacts a patient’s health. LTM is provided in individual bedside sessions and has no specific goal other than to create a healing environment for the  patient.  LTM sessions are played by certified therapeutic musicians, who are trained and certified through accredited programs recognized by the National Standards Board for Therapeutic Musicians.

Music Therapy is where the experience of the music, including the relationship with the Music Therapist, is the vehicle for needed change," according to Barbara Crowe, Author, Music Therapy Professor and former President of the National Music Therapy Association, as quoted in Joshua Leed's book The Power of Sound.  Crowe continues, "There are numerous approaches in Music Therapy utilizing many therapeutic models including psychotherapy, behaviorism, neurological intervention and community performance of music.”  Music Therapy is prescribed by physicians for specific outcomes that the therapist works to achieve with the patient.  Music Therapists may use recorded music, or lead interactive sessions where patients write or perform music with the therapist.  In addition, Music Therapy sessions are often conducted in group sessions.  Licensed Music Therapists complete a 4-year degree program and are Board Certified.  

Certified Music Practitioner playing Live Therapeutic Music on a harp in a hospital room
Certified Music Practitioner playing Live Therapeutic Music on a harp in a hospital room

Patient Responses to Live Therapeutic Music

Research shows that Live Therapeutic Music can improve patients' physiologic condition.  Anxious or agitated patients become calm as heart rate and respirations slow and blood pressure stabilizes.  Patients suffering from pain report relief and often fall asleep during LTM sessions.  Dementia patients have been known to become more alert and oriented during LTM sessions.  Patients nearing end-of-life or who suffer from Terminal Agitation benefit from LTM when nothing else seems to comfort them. 

How Does It Work?

Vibratory sound (from a CMP's voice or instrument) interacts with a patient's body, which often brings changes in the physiological or psychological status of the patients.  


LTM is based on principles of quantum physics and the science of how sound affects the human body.  Frequency, Resonance, Sympathetic Vibration, and Entrainment work together to mediate changes in patients' blood pressure, heart rate, and rate of respiration.  Symptoms of agitation and anxiety are lessened as patients respond to the therapeutic music. 

LTM facilitates the release of natural chemicals that inhibit the “Fight or Flight” response, which helps patients stabilize, relax, rest, and/or breathe more comfortably.

How The science of sound Affects the human body

Musical frequencies create the sound of Live Therapeutic Music


At the sub atomic level, every known material in the universe moves in constant motion.  Neutrons, Electrons, and Protons whirl around nuclei of innumerable atoms.  Just because we can’t hear these frequencies doesn’t mean there is no motion.  Scientists all know that Motion creates Frequency and Frequency creates Sound

Two tuning forks illustrate the concepts of resonance and sympathetic vibration used by Live Therapeutic Music

Resonance and Sympathetic Vibration

Resonance is the frequency at which an object vibrates naturally.  Sympathetic Vibration occurs when a passive vibratory body responds to external vibrations with harmonic similarities.  Sympathetic Resonance is the harmonic representation of Sympathetic Vibration

CMPs present various frequencies, tones and tempos until they find the combination that 'resonates' with the patient's body. 

A crowd of people at a concert illustrate the concept of entrainment used by Live Therapeutic Music


Entrainment is the synchronization of two or more rhythmic cycles.  When two related rhythmic cycles interact, they synchronize or Entrain.  Any two vibrating bodies will entrain if exposed to each other long enough.  If you've ever been to a concert and noticed everyone moving in sync with the music, you've witnessed Entrainment.  

CMPs are trained to play music that eventually entrains to a patient's body cycles. As the patient responds to the music, CMPs modify various components of the music in an attempt to help calm the patient and initiate the Relaxation Response

The research tells the story