Music as Medicine

At a Pacific Symphony Heartstrings event, Pacific Symphony cellist Ian McKinnell engages with the audience at a sensory-friendly concert at The Center for Autism. Photo: Courtesy of Pacific Symphony.

Philosophers, wise men, and physicians have long known that music holds healing powers. Plato in The Republic wrote: “Musical training is a more potent instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul.”  The British neurologist, naturalist, and writer Oliver Sacks commented: “The power of music to integrate and cure is quite fundamental. It is the profoundest non-chemical medication.” 

Music as a method of therapy is recognized for treating physical and psychological ailments to improve health. Individuals of all ages benefit from restorative music as it aids in the rehabilitation of a variety of conditions. Research shows that music therapy can improve a patient’s mood, decrease depression, reduce anxiety, build self-esteem, support physical exercise and facilitate other health-related and wellness activities. 

Mary Hawkes, director of Community Engagement at Pacific Symphony, with Santa Ana Strings students attending a Pacific Symphony performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto as part of the Heartstrings instrumental program. Hawkes oversees the orchestra’s Heartstrings program, which brings music to local communities who would otherwise not have access. Photo: Courtesy of Pacific Symphony. 

Pacific Symphony’s Heartstrings program provides customized musical experiences through its Music & Wellness programs that include “Sound Beginnings” Parent & Baby Workshops, Sensory Friendly Interactive Concerts, and Symphony Serenades. 

Symphony magazine, published by the League of American Orchestras, just published an article titled “Music as Medicine” reporting on how musicians, music therapists, and scientists are using music to improve the lives of people with cognitive decline, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. Pacific Symphony’s Music and Wellness program ably led by Mary Hawkes was featured in the article alongside Kennedy Center’s program “Sound Health: Music and the Mind.” 

Read more here.

Music as Medicine
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