Music for Health & Wellbeing





Music for Health & Wellbeing


Relaxation & Therapy Music Downloads

Using Music Therapeutically - Adobe document (including Mindfulness of Music)

Music affects our thoughts, feelings and behaviours.  The rhythm can affect our bodies so that our pulse and respirations are in time with the music's beat or rhythm.  Music can relax or energise, and certain pieces of music can affect us in deeply personal ways.  Whilst most of us listen to music, making music can be a very effective means of expression.  It’s also great for our self-esteem and confidence. 

Music can be listened to, used as a means of expression, or performed.

You don’t have to be a “musician” to enjoy playing an instrument.  We can improvise with any instrument and anything else too!  Hammer handles make great claves, broom handles and dustbins (and lids), saucepans, small branches from a tree, plastic bottle filled with rice, hardboard as a “wobble board” – just a few examples!  Sing!  How many of us sing in the bath/shower – wonderfully uninhibited and expressive.  Go for it!

There are different kinds of music for all tastes – classical, pop, rock, rap, jazz, folk – each culture, each generation, has its own style.  Music is very personal and affects individuals in different ways.  Different parts of the body resonate to different sounds and pitches, and most significantly, certain kinds of music can powerfully effect the human spirit or soul.  We can listen to music anywhere and everywhere.

Those who make music with voice or instrument experience an added dimension to life, but many who might make music do not do so perhaps through lack of confidence.

Music is able to cut across boundaries, through language, culture, age and religion.

Music is already therapy worldwide, whether through making music or listening.  It is an important part of spiritual life.  Most significant religious traditions use music to help create the mood for prayer, worship, reverence or joyful celebration. 

Listening to music can improve our energy levels and affect our mood – sometimes dramatically.  For example, when we feel low, it can be tempting to play music that fits with how we feel which may make us feel worse.  It can be much more helpful to choose music that is close to how we feel now, but just slightly above it, for instance a little faster or slightly more upbeat, or music that starts slow and sad, but changes and influences our mood in the same way.

Music is very personal to each of us, and what affects one person in one way, may affect someone else very differently.  You probably have some idea of what affects you and how, but you can experiment and try out different pieces of music.   You might decide to create different play-lists according to your mood, starting for instance with music that fits with your mood, then gradually becoming lighter and faster if you're feeling sad, or calming music if you're feeling tense.

Music in film and television shows us how music can affect mood.  A romantic drama would have a very different filmscore to a thriller.  The old “silent” films originally had a pianist in the cinema playing along, trying to strike the right mood.  At times, when watching a film or TV programme, you know what’s about to happen because of the music being played – you can anticipate the terror, such as in “Jaws”.

Tunes such as “Pomp and Circumstance” (Land of Hope and Glory), will instil great pride and patriotism.

It has been shown that “musak” – background music – can affect our shopping habits, encouraging us to spend more money.  A survey by the Psychology Department at Leicester University (website) showed how music can affect the products we buy.  For a set period of time they played French music, and watching with a video camera directed at the wine shelves, showed a significant  increase in the number of bottles of French wine being sold.  They then played a German tune, which showed the same results with German wine.  The buyers seemed unaware of the influence of the music.

Scientists have shown how even hens are happier and produce more eggs when played calming music!

Playing Mozart when studying is said to increase our IQ.  Another study showed that children who learn a musical instrument are much quicker at developing spatial awareness and problem solving skills.

There are times when we might feel like taking our temper out on a set of drums, and it would almost certainly help us to feel better.  

Relaxation (or New Age) music has a slow rhythm.  Sounds are often synthesised and there may be added natural sounds, such as whalesong, birdsong, waves or gentle rain to help produce a feeling of calm and relaxation. 

An article appeared in ‘best’ dated 2 February 1999, with the headline ‘Musical Minds’ “Adults who had musical training as children have better word recall, a recent study has found.  Researchers say that women who went to music lessons for at least six years before the age of 12 were significantly better at remembering words than those who hadn’t.  Music could also be beneficial in treating memory loss or language difficulties.” 

McDonalds did their own research, which showed that we eat according to the speed of the music being played.  Therefore, when a restaurant is busy, with a queue building up, McDonalds plays fast music, thus ensuring that the customers will eat quickly, and leave the restaurant sooner, freeing up the table for the next customers.

UK schools found that classrooms are much calmer with relaxing background music, with even the most “unruly” child being able to work and concentrate better.  They have been (quietly) playing a variety of music that children wouldn’t normally listen to such as classical and traditional music from all over the world.     A teacher in Wales used Mozart's music with similar effect - 


Using Music Therapeutically - Adobe document (including Mindfulness of Music)


Inspiring & Uplifting music?

Cyrus Almonde - Thank You Eternally by Abbey Road Studios

 J Cottam - Music Composer (Cyrus Almonde)




Music experience has been shown to:

  • Improve motor functioning

  • Decrease muscle tension

  • Entrain and regulate respiration

  • Improve respiration and vital capacity

  • Reduce pain

  • Reduce heart rate

  • Increase pain tolerance and threshold

  • Decrease pain medication required

  • Decrease blood pressure

  • Decrease corticosteroid levels

  • Decrease finger temperature

  • Improve comfort

  • Compress/shorten time during labour

  • Promote well being of new-born

  • Provide measure of control and reduce helplessness

  • Reduce anxiety

  • Reduce psychological trauma

  • Enhance relaxation

  • Provide diversion

  • Elevate mood

  • Decrease fear

  • Increase verbalisations - speech is less inhibited

  • Increase mental performance during study


Effects of Music

  • Music   influences bodily processes.  It can affect our heart rate, blood pressure, and muscular responses. 

  • Music influences mood

  • Evokes imagery and imagination - varies for each person, culture, previous musical experiences and history.

  • Music makes relaxation more effective, and the mind is better able to picture images than with words alone.

  •  Entrainment - Music has the potential to entrain, or bring together, heart rate via its pulse, or breathing via its rhythm.

  • By matching music to your existing mood, changes in the mood can be brought about through changes in the mood of the music.

  • Enhance the effect of other treatments - E.g. Music can enhance relaxation


Using Music Therapeutically - Adobe document (including Mindfulness of Music)


De-Stress Now! 5 minute video from (below) - includes STOPP


Inspiring Quotes Video from 








Drumming has been, and still is, used down through history - by all cultures of the world.  Drumming has been a feature of ceremonies such as weddings, births, deaths & harvests etc.  

Drumming is good for relaxation, fosters a sense of unity and encourages self-expression, resulting in a more positive self-esteem.  A study by Barry Quinn indicated that drumming for brief periods can actually change a person’s brainwave patterns, dramatically reducing stress.  It suggested that the effect of drumming produces greater results than any other form of stress management.

Drumming is something everyone can do, and requires no musical training. 

You don't need any specialist or expensive instrument either - anything goes.  Ideas for improvised drums include:  dustbin lids, pots, pans and wooden spoons, anything that can be shaken, any household object that makes a sound. 


Some suggestions for activities follow.  They are mostly for fun, but by-products are relaxation, non-verbal communication, relationship building, laughter therapy (!), tension release etc.

  • Talk about the instruments - where they are from, how they are played etc
  • Group singing - accompanied by guitar normally
  • Echo - either divide into 2 groups, or one person leads - beat a rhythm, the rest echo
  • Free Improvisation - everyone just does their own thing with their chosen instrument - the intention is that everyone finds the common pulse.  This activity can continue for some time.  Initially, people can be very self-conscious and worried about looking a bit of a fool, but they soon forget about that and start enjoying it!  A variation may be that every 2 or 3 minutes, everyone passes their instrument to the next person along.
  • Express an Emotion - anger, happiness, anxiety, calm, hope, fear, celebration etc
  • Memories - imagine an important event in your life (past, present or future) and try to express that
  • Seascape - the waves, wind, gulls, boats, beach sounds
  • African Rainforest - you could use vocals too!
  • If I were..  -  If I were a musical instrument, I would be a ...
  • Charades  -  mime the playing of a musical instrument, others must guess.  A variation on this is for one group member to leave the room.  A leader is nominated who will mime the playing of an instrument while the others will copy. (the leader will change instrument from time to time)  The other person has to guess who the leader is.
  • Listening - listen to 4 pieces of music, and write down the feelings you experience as you listen.  At the end, the group share their responses to each piece etc
  • Clapping - leader claps a simple rhythm, the others gradually join in until everyone is clapping
  • Making Eyes - the leader starts beating a rhythm, then makes eye contact with someone else who then joins in the rhythm etc
  • Using a standard rhythm eg. swing beat - one half plays the main beat, others play the other beats
  • If you're alone at home - then just do whatever you want to do!  You could drum along to some recorded music, or make up your own. 



Drumming links for more information