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The Healing Power of Music and the Role of the Music Practitioner

Posted by Johnson Memorial Health on Mar 26, 2015

Music is powerful and often has an emotional effect on people. Hospitals and most health care settings are loud and busy. Music Practitioners offer some quiet and calm in the sea of doctors and nurses who come in and out of patient rooms during a hospital stay.


Some of the ways music can help patients heal is by boosting the immune system, alleviating anxiety, and reducing blood pressure.

Johnson Memorial has a certified Music Practitioner on staff. Joyce Elliott is trained to provide bedside music in a personal or group setting.

Music Practitioner vs. Music Therapist

While some may use music practitioner and therapist interchangeably, they are actually different. Practitioners and therapists have different training, different objectives, and different agendas. Despite their differences, practitioners and therapists can work together to meet the needs of the patients.

Certified Music Practitioner (CMP)

Board Certified Music Therapist (MT-BC)

Graduated from the Music for Healing & Transition program

Completed Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Music Therapy

creates a healing environment in a one on one or group setting

creates a therapeutic goal with several planned meetings

plays for the patient

patient plays, sings, or writes music/songs

often sees patient just once

sees patient regularly until goal is reached

Music in Health Care

There are several studies that have been done that support the benefits of music in health care. One study focused on live music versus recorded music. It showed that music can reduce heart rates, enhance sleep, help with pain, reduce anxiety, and decrease muscle tension. Other studies have shown that music can reduce postoperative pain, reducing stress and pain, and improve sleep quality. Follow the links below to see the articles or abstracts that support music as a benefit to health care.

Who Can Benefit From a Music Practitioner?

In addition to the benefits stated above, music can be beneficial to all patients. Since music practitioners are playing the music (versus a music therapist asking a patient to play the music), they can visit patients in a coma, women in labor, infants, patients who are dying, and others who are unable to move comfortably.

A music practitioner can play while visitors are present. This can help the visitors feel the calming effects of music as well.  Often, friends and family may be stressed too. Even though the focus of the music practitioner will be on the patient, the visitors may feel the effects too. A music therapist may not allow visitors or guests to be part of the sessions with the patient.

Finally, the nurses and staff will likely hear the bedside music. Since sound travels down the hall, all nearby will be able to hear the soothing sounds. The staff may also benefit from the results of the patient’s experience with the music practitioner.

When a patient in pain falls asleep, or a patient who is experiencing emotional stress calms down, the staff will have less work to do and feel less stress as well.

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Topics: Specialists, Music Practitioner