Erasmus MC professors and PhD students founded the foundation Muziek als Medicijn

Flute and Jazz legend Ronald Snijders and Guitar maestro Kries Malhoe performing during the Eindeloos India Festival in de Doelen

The MAM (Music as Medicine) Foundation is actively engaged in researching the innovative use of music as a medical treatment both within and outside the healthcare system, and their research is grounded in evidence. According to MAM, music serves as a sustainable form of treatment with no side effects. The widespread accessibility of music, coupled with minimal costs, facilitates broad applications and has the potential to save healthcare costs. Through systematic literature analyses and high-quality clinical research, the research group contributes to expanding our knowledge about the functioning and application of music within the medical healthcare sector in the Netherlands.

On a chilly Tuesday evening, the ideal time to indulge in a Netflix series, I find myself diverging from the entertainment of Supergirl to fulfill my New Year’s resolution. My goal is to gather evidence-based information about new treatments in the medical healthcare sector and the effects of music on our brain. I aim to implement this wealth of knowledge into DesiYUP. I firmly believe that certain music, such as Indian instrumental classical music, transcends mere entertainment; it possesses ‘healing’ powers. Music warrants thorough research, and fortunately, many professors and PhD students share my conviction. For years, there have been indications that music profoundly influences the brain, reducing anxiety, stress, and pain. For instance, the most prevalent blood pressure disorders—high blood pressure (hypertension) and low blood pressure (hypotension)—can be positively impacted by listening to soothing music, as demonstrated in a study by scientists Sutoo and Akiyama in 2004.

Music as Medicine

I approached the main entrance of Erasmus MC, the largest and one of the most esteemed scientific universities and medical centers in Europe, located in Rotterdam. According to Wikipedia, this hospital holds the top position among the eight medical centers in The Netherlands and is ranked #1 in clinical medicine in Europe and #20 globally, as per the Times Higher Education rankings. At this prestigious institution, Dino Gacevic and Teun Tramper, two young and brilliant medical students and founders of Muziek in de Zorg (MInDZ), organized their inaugural evidence-based symposium on music.

University of Missouri Children’s Hospital music therapist, Emily Herzog, plays music with patients at the hospital.

Children and Music Therapy 

Music has proven to be a powerful tool in alleviating anxiety and pain among children in hospital settings. Researcher Marianne van der Heijden, who graduated in 2018 with a thesis titled “Music in Medicine: The Value of Music Interventions for Hospitalized Children,” conducted comprehensive studies on various groups, including premature children, those in intensive care units, those undergoing surgery, young patients with burns, and children undergoing painful procedures at the emergency department (Erasmus MC). Her findings concluded that listening to music significantly reduces anxiety and pain, marking a significant stride in acknowledging music as a valuable addition to the healthcare system.

Music Therapy with Children: Unraveling the Stats

Music Therapy with Children statistics

The pivotal question addressed in this blog is: What type of music can effectively reduce anxiety, pain, or stress? Regrettably, scientists have yet to provide a precise answer. Despite reading thousands of scientific articles on the effects of music, doctors and scientists have compiled a summary of features that describe so-called ‘healthy music’: rhythm, tone, melody, tempo, harmony, volume, texture, non-dissonant, and timbre.

Numerous studies have utilized the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart for experimentation, likely due to its well-balanced nature. If the music you choose encompasses these features, it may indeed have therapeutic effects on your body and mind. While I refrain from making definitive statements, lacking expertise as a neuroscientist or possessing a medical license, I draw from personal experiences and believe that Indian (instrumental) music can yield similar positive effects as Mozart’s compositions.

Sleep with Music: A Social Experiment

Let’s embark on a social experiment together. Select a soothing Indian raga-based composition and play it for a minimum of 15 to 30 minutes before bedtime, ensuring all distracting devices are put away. Personally, I switch my phone to ‘flight mode’ during this time. If you prefer not to do this, placing your phone on a table next to your bed or on the floor is advisable—just avoid sleeping with it next to you. Listen to the chosen music repeatedly for a week and observe if it has a positive impact on your sleep quality. Share your experiences and stories, and if you need recommendations for good instrumental Indian music, DesiYUP’s YouTube channel is the place to be. Leave your comments, hit the like button, and I wish you the best in this harmless social experiment.


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