Music has been used as a healing implement for centuries. Plato said that music affected the emotions and could influence the character of an individual. Aristotle taught that music affects the soul and described music as a force that purified the emotions. Hippocrates played music for mental patients.

Music therapy is broadly defined as the use of music to advance health-related goals and improve the quality of life.  The modern practice of music therapy finds its roots in the military. The use of music therapy in military settings started to flourish and develop during WWII.  The first university sponsored music therapy course was taught in 1919 at Columbia University.  The first music therapy degree program in the world was founded in 1944 at Michigan State University. Music has been shown to affect portions of the brain.  Recent research suggests that music can increase a patient’s motivation and positive emotions.  One reason for the effectiveness of music therapy for stroke victims is the capacity of music to affect emotions and social interactions.

Music therapy is associated with a decrease in depression, improved mood and a reduction in anxiety.  Used along with traditional therapy, one study found the incorporation of music gave patients more positive emotional effects than exercise alone.  A client/patient does not need to have some music ability to benefit from music therapy.  Alzheimer disease and other types of dementia are among the disorders commonly treated with music therapy.  The most common significant effects are seen in social behaviors leading to improvements in interaction, conversations and other such skills.

Learn More about Music Therapy:  Since 1994 music therapy has been identified as a reimbursable service under benefits for Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) if it is considered an active treatment.  Mary Adamek, UI School of Music Director of the Music Therapy Program, will lead a panel discussion of music therapists on April 18 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in Meeting Room A of the Iowa City Public Library.  For additional information about music therapy refer to: