UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information

How has musical therapy been effectively used?

Is a heart rate monitor the best tool to monitor heart rate?

What background do you need to be a musical therapist?

Will the music someone is listening to change their resting heart rate?

Question Date: 2012-12-19
Answer 1:

I would be more than happy to answer the questions; however, many of them are dependent upon the client.

1. How has music therapy been effectively used?
~Basic answer: Music therapy can be used in many settings with people of all ages and diagnosis. Some of the settings include but are not limited to: hospice/adult day care centers; juvinile homes/prisons; private practices; psychiatric facilites; rehabilitation centers; hospitals; etc. In these placements music therapy may be used to address various disabilities such as, developmental and learning disabilities; Alzheimers (and other aging related disabilities); brain injuries; physical disabilities; etc. Some of the goals that would be addressed can include: social/behavioral skills, communication skills, cognitive skills, sensory and motor skills

2. Is a heart rate monitor the best tool to monitor heart rate?
~Depends on what the purpose is. If you are looking for a correlation between music and heart rate and you have a limited budget then yes go for it! Many studies use various blood pressure equipment as well as expensive equipment that is usually seen in hospitals.

3. What background do you need to be a music therapist?
~In order to become a music therapist, one must attend an AMTA approved college/university music therapy degree program. The program usually involves four semesters of music therapy classes (mt with different disabilities, psychology classes, piano, guitar, etc.); multiple practicum sites (placement where the student works with one or more people with a disability and is observed by a board certified mt); and a 6 month internship at a college affiliated or amta affiliated site. After the six month internship and signed paperwork from the head of the mt department the student is elligible for the board exam. This exam is a comprehensive exam that tests every thing from music theory to music therapy practice. Upon passing the exam, the newly board certified music therapist has to maintain good standing with CBMT as well as take 100 continuing education credits every five years or retake the exam every five years inorder to maintain certification.

4. Will the music someone is listening to change their resting heart rate?
~Great question! It depends on the person! Many studies have shown that when a person is listening to prefered music (ex: I prefer country or classical) then the persons becomes more relaxed and heart rate and blood pressure decreases. However, this area is based on the Iso Principle. Basically, you meet the person where they are at and then shift their mood in either a good or bad direction through music. For example: If I am super depressed and want to become more happy then I find a song that (to me) is super depressed and I am enjoying. Maybe the song is in a minor key, lower pitched instruments (cello, tuba, etc.). After that song, I might listen to something that is still in a minor key but a little less depressing. I would slowly work my way up to a "happier" sounding song. Which would also slowly bring my mood up. (I hope that makes sense!) Some studies show than purely classical music is the way to help people relax, while other studies show that it's best to use prefered music. In my experience, prefered music works wonders!

Check out: music for American Music Therapy Association standards or
cert-board-of- music for the Certification Board of Music Therapists standards.

Hope that helps!

Answer 2:

You have asked some great questions! Music therapy, as recognized in western cultures, was first documented in 1789, according to the American Music Therapy Association. Here's the link:


I think you will find the answers to your questions by following the links on this website: musict herapy-2

However, music has been used in healing, in developing elevated feelings of joy, in worship, and in just about all group processes that you can think of, as far back as you can imagine.

The oldest example of a musical instrument is dated at 33,000 BCE:

Music was a very important part of daily life in Ancient Greece:


and metmuseum

Music was an important aspect of life in Biblical times:
and it has been used in healing in African cultures since ancient times:

I hope this helps. Best regards,

Answer 3:

Music can influence people's emotions, which will in turn affect their heart rates. So far as I know, the only known therapeutic uses of music work by inspiring people to feel certain emotions, especially emotions that calm them or make them happy. The trouble is that different people feel different emotions in response to any given piece of music.

Click Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2020 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use