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

MAM (Music as Medicine) Foundation is doing research on music as an innovative method for medical treatments in and outside the medical health care system their research is ‘evidence based’. According to MAM music is a sustainable form of treatment that has no side effects. The good accessibility of music in combination with minimal costs enables a broad application and can save health care costs. By carrying out systematic literature analyzes and high-quality clinical research, the research group contributes to the cultivation of knowledge about the functioning and application of music within the medical health care sector in The Netherlands. 

It’s a cold Tuesday evening, the perfect night to watch a Netflix serie, but in stead of being entertained by Supergirl I’m acing my New Year’s resolution. My aim is to gather evidence-based information about new treatments in the medical health care sector and the effects of music on our brain. I want to implement all this collected wisdom in my company DesiYUP. In my December vlog 2018 I mentioned that DesiYUP’s new theme will be #musictherapy. I strongly believe that certain music, for example Indian instrumental classical music, is more than just entertainment; it has ‘healing’ powers. Music deserves to be researched and luckily there are many professors and PhD students who agree with me on this matter. There have been indications for years that music affects the brain, and reduces anxiety, stress and pain. For example: the most common blood pressure disorders are high blood pressure (hypertension) and low blood pressure (hypotension). Scientific research measured that high blood pressure can be reduced by listening to soothing music according to a study by scientists Sutoo and Akiyama in 2004.

Music as Medicine

I walked to the main entrance of the largest and one of the most authoritative scientific University and Medical Center in Europe; (Erasmus MC) Rotterdam. According to Wikipedia this hospital is the largest of the eight medical centers in The Netherlands and ranks #1 of the top European institution in clinical medicine and #20 in the world according to the Times Higher Education rankings. In this prestigious institute two young and bright medical students Dino Gacevic and Teun Tramper, founders of Muziek in de Zorg (MInDZ), organized their first evidence-based symposium about music. Medical professors, students and curious Know-It-All’s gathered together in a lecture room. In the room there was this old August Förster piano, tuned by Dino’s dad. The symposium started with an introduction of the people involved in this project, followed by an explanation why music as a treatment is good to study, since there are no negative side-effects. Meaning that a music treatment is so far harmless and cost-effective. My mind wonders at this point, how do I convey this message to the followers of DesiYUP? Will they believe me if I recommend them instrumental music to reduce their stress? Perhaps giving one small example including children will be a movement upward. After all… Parents always try to keep their children happy and healthy!  

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

Children 

Music can reduce anxiety and pain in children when they are in the hospital. Children undergoing surgery experience less pain and anxiety when they listen to music than children who do not listen to music. Researcher Marianne van der Heijden graduated in 2018 with her thesis Music in Medicine, the value of music interventions for hospitalized children. For her research Van der Heijden studied several groups: premature children, children in the intensive care unit, children from 0 to 18 years old who undergo surgery, young children who have been admitted to hospital with burns, and children from 3 years old who undergo painful procedures at the emergency department (Erasmus MC). Her research concluded that by listening to music anxiety and pain can be reduced. Which is a big step forward in accepting that music can be a great tool to include in the medical health care system. 

Music Therapy with Children statistics

Now, the most relevant question of this blog is: what kind of music can reduce anxiety, pain or stress? To be frank, scientists don’t have a precise answer to his question as yet. Sorry to disappoint you, but after reading thousands of scientific articles about the effects of music doctors and scientists came up with a summary of features that describes so called ‘healthy music’? Here they are: rhythm, tone, melody, tempo, harmony, volume, texture, not-dissonant and timbre. 

In many of these scientific studies music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was used to conduct an experiment. Most probably because his music is so well-balanced. If the music that you listen to ticks all these boxes it may have a therapeutic effect on your body and brains. I’m very careful to make any hard statements, because I’m not a neuroscientist, nor do I have a medical license. I can only speak from my personal experiences and I believe that Indian (instrumental) music can have the same positive effect as Mozart’s compositions. 

Sleep with music

Social Experiment

What we could do together is a social experiment. Select a nice soothing Indian raga based composition and play it for minimum 15 to 30 minutes before you go to bed. Make sure that you put away all your distracting devices. In my case I always change my phone’s setting to ‘flight mode’. If you don’t want to do this you can keep your phone on a table next your bed or on the floor. Just, try not to ‘sleep’ with your phone next to you… that’s the most important advice! Listen to a piece of music repeatedly for a week and explore if it has a positive effect on you in any way. I would like to know if it helps you to sleep better, deeper or when you wake up do you feel more rested or energized? Dear reader, I repeat, it’s a harmless social experiment and I love to hear your story and your experience with music. If you need any recommendation for nice instrumental Indian music the DesiYUP YouTube channel is the place to be. Share your comments, hit the like button and I wish you all the best with this social experiment. 

Love,
Mahesvari