Benefits of Music

This almost universal responsiveness to music is an essential part of our neural nature…Why this should be so is still a mystery. Our research is only now beginning to unlock those secrets.

~Dr. Oliver Sacks

The extensive benefits of music and arts participation are well-documented; not only do they create a safe space for individual growth, but are increasingly seen as part of the holistic approach necessary in creating and sustaining healthy communities. The below research provides the backbone for the high-quality music-making and learning programs we provide for and with individuals and communities. It makes a case for the important work we do and for the essential role of the arts in community-building within the areas we serve.

This list is not meant to be comprehensive, but to provide an editorial overview of the range of evidence emerging about the beneficial effects of music in a variety of settings. We welcome your feedback and submissions!

Music and Health 

State of the Field Report: Arts In Healthcare

Music and the Arts in Health: A Perspective from the United States

Arts and Health Care – Americans for the Arts

The Potential of Partnerships in Arts and Healthcare
 – The Power of Music To Reduce Stress

5 Amazing Reasons Music is the Best Gift To Humans – Benefits of Playing Instruments

This Is Your Brain On Music

Listening To Music Can Reduce Chronic Pain And Depression By Up To A Quarter

20 Surprising, Science-Backed Health Benefits of Music

Exploring the experiences of people living with mental health problems who attend a community-based arts project, using interpretative phenomenological analysis

Living with cancer blog: Turn on the music and soothe your soul

Listening To Music And Regular Exercise Linked With Improved Endothelial Functioning

The Effect of Music and Imagery to Induce Relaxation and Reduce Nausea and Emesis in Patients With Cancer Undergoing Chemotherapy Treatment

Music and well-being in long-term hospitalized children

Healing with Music

In Cancer Fight, Teenagers Don’t Fit In (NY Times – suggests multidisciplinary outreach and treatment approach)


Neurological Effects of Music/Learning

Physical Benefits of Group Singing

Singing Changes Your Brain

Singing Makes You Happy

Psychological Effects of Group Singing

Playing Music Protects Memory, Hearing, Brain Processing

Is Playing a Musical Instrument Good for Your Health?

Music and Memory

10 Effects Music Has On the Mind

Music: It’s in your head, changing your brain

Music moves brain to pay attention, Stanford study finds

Notes & Neurons: In Search of the Common Chorus 


Youth/Children & Education

Top 10 skills children learn from the arts

Making Music Dramatically Improves Young Children’s Behavior 

Arts and Cognition Monograph: Effects of Music Training

Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development

Music and Grief for Teens

Arts and Education – Americans for the Arts


Creative Aging/Inter-Generational Program Benefits

NEA: The Effects of Singing on Older Adults

National Endowment for the Arts: Summit on Creative Aging in America

Can Singing Lead to a Longer, Healthier Life?

Music Training: An Antidote for Aging?

Your Aging Brain Will Be in Better Shape If You’ve Taken Music Lessons

Musical experience offsets some aging effects: Older musicians excel in memory and hearing speech in noise compared to non-musicians

Loneliness Possibly Causes Early Death

Writing Can Help Injuries Heal Faster

The Benefits of Inter-Generational Programs

Developing Intergenerational Relationships

Permission to Play: How the Intergenerational Arts Space (Re)teaches Creative Play to Young and Old

Intergenerational Programming Improves Community Life



Arts and Community Building – Americans for the Arts

Creating Connection


 Arts and Disaster Recovery/Trauma

Park Slope Armory Wellness Center

Creative Recovery Network

My Hurricane Story (workbook for children)

Narratives of Disaster Recovery

A Cultural Approach to Recovery Assistance Following Urban Disasters

Trauma and Mental Health Report: Art and Culture

Dealing with the Effects of Trauma: A Self-Help Guide


General Disaster Recovery/Community Resilience Resources

Traumatic Loss and Major Disasters: Strengthening Family and Community Resilience (multisystem approach for coping, social connectedness and community recovery)

The Political Economy of Hurricane Katrina and Community Rebound (Music communities promoting social capital adept for recovery)

Lifespan perspectives on natural disasters (the arts play a role, as already evidenced by the recognition of FEMA and others in examining and including the arts in a more comprehensive view of community recovery and resilience)

The Effect of Relocation after a Natural Disaster (depression)

Natural and Technological Disasters (disasters disproportionately strike the poor, socially deprived, and marginalized, and their consequences may be more serious and long-lasting in these groups)

Children and Disasters