Discover comfort, ease, and well-being through the healing power of sound...

Therapeutic Music

Michael Reiley McDermott

Therapeutic Musician, Deep Listening® Facilitator, and Composer

I have played music for over 20 years as a keyboardist, producer, composer, and performer. In recent years, through my meditation and Deep Listening practice, a new intention behind my musical life has emerged. I feel music can be a therapeutic and healing form of connection with our inner and outer reality. I hope the soundscapes that flow through me and into your ears can be a beneficial companion on your own journey.

I am currently a Student Music Practitioner in the Music for Healing and Transition Program. I am offering my services as a Therapeutic Musician for free at hospitals, hospice centers, skilled nursing facilities and other centers of healing as part of my certification. You can read more about this offering below:

Therapeutic Music

According to the National Standards Board for Therapeutic Music, benefits of therapeutic music can include, but are not limited to:

  • Cultivating an inner sense of ease and calm
  • Relieving anxiety
  • Reducing stress and stabilizing blood pressure
  • Augmenting pain management
  • Relieving body and mental tension
  • Aiding mental focus for people with memory issues
  • Distraction from current mental and physical discomfort
  • Altering the sense of time
  • Augmenting pain management
  • Facilitating communication between loved ones
  • Stabilizing vital signs of acute patients
  • Easing the transition during the final weeks, days, and hours of the dying process

Established in 1994, the Music for Healing and Transition Program, Inc. (MHTP), is one of the oldest organizations that trains and certifies musicians in the art and science of providing therapeutic music for body, mind, and spirit.  MHTP recognizes the transformative power of music as a therapeutic enhancement to the healing process and the life/death transition.

Therapeutic music is offered by CMPs and other trained therapeutic musicians by holding an awareness that bringing beauty, presence, and the power of music into a healthcare environment may facilitate healing.  Therapeutic musicians focus on meeting a patient’s present needs with therapeutic music in-the-moment, rather than having the intention of accomplishing a specific goal or outcome. Therapeutic musicians use the intrinsic healing elements of live music and intentionality to create an environment conducive to healing.

Background of Therapeutic Music

Using music to promote a healing environment has been woven into many cultures throughout human history.  The roots of western therapeutic music can be traced back to Pythagoras of Greece who taught music as a medical science, to David’s soothing of King Saul, to the Druids and Bards of Britain and Ireland, to monastic communities of the Middle Ages, and to visionary musicians like St. Hildegard of Bingen, who embodied and passed on the knowledge of the power of therapeutic music.

Current Investigations

Contemporary scientific research has shown that music has measurable physiological effects.  For example, therapeutic music may stabilize heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration rates.  Studies have shown such diverse results as the finding that therapeutic music can have a positive influence on protective cells of the immune system, can lead a patient into a state of deep relaxation, and can increase endorphin production which may decrease the need for pain medication.   Salivary immunoglobulin, which speeds healing, may be increased.  Music may reduce infection, affect heart rate, aid digestion, and reduce stress.  Music is also becoming a part of drug and alcohol detoxification therapy. Numerous additional research publications and related work are given in MHTP’s Bibliography (PDF).

The Music Session

After a brief introduction, I welcome the listener to just relax and listen. Sessions are typically 20 minutes long and are conducted over Zoom using high quality audio equipment. Headphones are recommended for listeners to receive the full benefit of the sound work. View a sample session:

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