Music therapy

Music therapy is an established health care practice that uses music-based practices to help improve your overall well-being. Medical music therapy can enhance your quality of life, increase self-awareness, and prevent or manage a range of physical and emotional symptoms through the use of live music and interactions with your music therapist.

Board-certified music therapists address physical, emotional, cognitive, social and spiritual needs of people of all ages. Music therapists use the characteristics and elements of music to:

  • Reduce pain, anxiety, agitation and stress.
  • Decrease confusion.
  • Improve communication, self-expression and coping skills.
  • Enhance quality of life and spiritual comfort.
  • Increase sense of control.
  • Provide socialization and stimulation.
  • Increase relaxation and overall wellness.
  • Elevate mood.
  • Improve perception of treatment.

What can music therapy do for patients and families?

Music therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment for people with cancer. Research suggests that music therapy can reduce anxiety, decrease the perception of pain and improve quality of life.

As part of the integrative medicine team at Markey Cancer Center, our goal is to use music therapy to improve patient well-being and increase opportunities for patient- and family-centered care.

Although music therapy is not entertainment, many patients and families perceive music therapy as an uplifting experience. In fact, music therapy is usually very enjoyable for recipients.

What kind of music is used in music therapy?

Since everyone’s experiences with music are different, there is no set musical format used in music therapy. At Markey, we provide music our patients prefer, and it is primarily provided live.

Our music therapist’s repertoire includes songs from various genres including country, gospel, rock, jazz, folk, musicals, bluegrass and more.

What happens in a music therapy session?

Music therapy is typically provided in the patient’s room, where the music therapist will sing and play guitar or other instruments.

Patients and families are encouraged to engage in music making, or they may choose to just listen. No musical experience is required to participate in music therapy.

Music is provided as part of other therapy treatments or as a therapy treatment on its own. Music alone is the therapy in many instances, such as a hymn providing spiritual comfort, a favorite song as distraction from pain or when music is used to calm agitation.

Other times music is used within therapy, such as discussing song lyrics, reminiscing about memories elicited by songs or playing an instrument to enhance physical rehabilitation.

In most cases, music functions both ways within any given session, as the music and the therapist work together to meet the patient’s needs.

Common music therapy techniques include:

  • Lyric analysis
  • Songwriting
  • Instrument playing
  • Patient singing
  • Guided imagery/visualization
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Distraction
  • Counseling
  • Life review

If you are interested in more information on music therapy services, contact Jennifer Peyton at If you are interested in receiving music therapy services, contact your Markey physician, social worker or nurse.

Page last updated: 12/3/2015 12:38:32 PM