An art form based on the science of sound, 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.
When used with conventional medical interventions, LTM is effective in helping patients stabilize or better manage various symptoms, including 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.
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 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 provided by therapeutic musicians, who are trained and certified by the Music for Healing and Transition Program (MHTP). MHTP is an accredited program provider 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Find a collection of published and unpublished studies proving the effectiveness of Live Therapeutic Music as performed by a Music Practitioner.
The National Standards Board for Therapeutic Music develops and maintains standards for therapeutic musician training programs and graduates.
Live Therapeutic Music at Fresno, California’s VA Hospital Makes a Big Difference – as originally reported in the Los Angeles Times. (2012)