| One-Minute Clinician

Listen, Relax…Heal?

Our Louis Armstrong therapists have worked closely alongside doctors and nurses. Of course, we have something to prove with music interventions, but you can’t really prove the efficacy of any medical intervention unless you’re alongside the medical team. Our team has had the advantage of working alongside some of the greatest doctors and nurses and within their departments. We don’t just go ahead and play music or prescribe music in all of our programs. We go in and we watch and we observe what are the critical mechanisms for treatment plans. We ask questions and figure out not what people assume but what doctors and nurses observe, and then we ask them to observe how the music therapy actually can treat all these symptoms that affect the illness. This has been a marvelous way to grow the field of music therapy, and it’s been a wonderful way to extend music therapy into what we call music psychotherapy. As music therapists, we’re now in our heyday: we’re being called on to do podcasts, to do lectures, and to actually show through video, which we can, the mind’s effect on the body. This means that the neurologic pathways that influence the brain can affect the body’s main mechanisms. What is heart rate? It’s rhythm. What is respiration? Again, rhythm, working alongside the heartbeat—inhale, exhale—we know instinctively that the relaxation response can affect breathing, which is why people go to the beach to relax; they hear those ocean waves. As music therapists, it’s not just about pushing down the right song. Yes, figure out the right song, and then adapt it in the moment rhythmically, spiritually, and probably most importantly, in a clinical improvisatory way. That way, we are following the lead of the patient, which traditional medicine didn’t always do. That experience of aligning allopathic findings with clinical improvisatory findings leads us to uncover critical aspects of the patient’s culture, of their deepest darkness issues, which could only maybe be found through the shared experience of playing a favorite song or recreating maybe a beautiful ballad into blues to help patients release pain. As for sleep, we know instinctively that sleep is critical to function. We know that cell-building, that neurologic function is critical with sleep. Our music therapists at The Louis Armstrong Center have been studying sleep for the past 20 years. We’ve proved back in the 90s that putting babies to sleep with music and training with their breathing was safer because we didn’t need the medicine.