18 Benefits of the Power of Music

09.06.2022: UK Music and Music for Dementia's Power of Music report shows how music can play a greater role in improving the nation's health, mental health and wellbeing. Here are 18 benefits of the power of music.   

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09.06.2022: UK Music and Music for Dementia’s Power of Music report shows how music can play more of a role in improving the nation’s health, mental health and wellbeing. Here are 18 benefits of the power of music.   

Cost Effectiveness

Number 1: According to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health, and Wellbeing’s Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing report (2017), music therapy reduces agitation and the need for medication in 67% of people with dementia, significantly reducing the spend on anti-psychotic medication.

Number 2: Cost-effectiveness was powerfully demonstrated at Lillyburn Care Home in 2018. The Scottish care home reduced the use of anti-psychotic medication by up to 60% for some residents when the GP prescribed a personal playlist as the first intervention staff should try when managing the symptoms of dementia such as agitation and distress. Read more here.

Number 3: As well as providing value for money, musical interventions can also create a social return on investment (ROI). Shaun Hegarty (2012), found in Adult and Community Learning Fund Forecast of Social Return on Investment of Silver Lining at The Sage Gateshead, that for every £1 invested in the Silver Lining music and dementia project, the social return on investment was £1.93 – a 93% increase.

Psychological Conditions

Number 4: In a randomised controlled trial, participants receiving music therapy, in addition to standard care, showed greater improvement in depression and anxiety symptoms and general functioning at their three-month follow-up than those only receiving standard care. Read more here.

Number 5: According to Martina de Witte, Anouk Spruit, Susan van Hooren, Xavier Moonen & Geert-Jan Stams in their work, Effects of Music interventions on Stress-related Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Two Meta-analyses, (2020), music can ease stress in both physiological and psychological outcomes. Research has shown that music can reduce stress for patients undergoing surgeries and colonoscopies, for children undergoing medical procedures, and for patients with coronary heart disease.


Number 6: Musical patterns can help provide a means of self-regulation of thoughts and processes for those on the autism spectrum. Read more here.

Number 7: Because music is processed in both hemispheres of the brain, it can stimulate cognitive functioning and may be used for remediation of some speech and language skill. Read more here.

Number 8: Research from the University of British Columbia found music students perform better in school than non-musical peers. UBC education professor and the study’s principal investigator, Peter Gouzouasis said: “The students who learned to play a musical instrument in elementary and continued playing in high school not only score significantly higher, but were about one academic year ahead of their non-music peers with regard to their English, mathematics and science skills, as measured by their exam grades, regardless of their socioeconomic background, ethnicity, prior learning in mathematics and English, and gender.” Read more here.

Social Experiences and Challenges

Number 9: It was estimated by the Big Chorus Census in 2017 that 2.14 million Britons are members of a choir. The survey found community singing is effective for bonding large groups, making it an ideal behaviour to improve our broader social networks. Read more here.

Number 10: Researchers at the University of Oxford found that group singing not only helps forge social bonds, it also does so particularly quickly, acting as an excellent and cost-effective icebreaker. Read more here.

Number 11: V. Salimpoor, M. Benovoy, & K. Larcher and others found in their work, Anatomically Distinct Dopamine Release During Anticipation and Experience of Peak Emotion to Music (2011), showed that when you listen to music you like, your brain releases dopamine, a “feelgood” neurotransmitter. In this study, levels of dopamine were found to be up to 9% higher when volunteers were listening to music they enjoyed.

Physical Impairments

Number 12: Listening to music after surgery, and even during, may ease pain and the need for pain medication. It can also decrease blood pressure and steady the heart rate. Read more here.

Number 13: Playing music is the brain’s equivalent of a full-body workout. Playing an instrument engages practically every area of the brain at once — especially the visual, auditory, and motor cortex. Learn more here.

Number 14: Playing a musical instrument can help children with cerebral palsy to improve hand movement and strengthen their sensorimotor skills, according to A. Alves-Pinto, V. Turova, T. Blumenstein et al. in their work, The Case for Musical Instrument Training in Cerebral Palsy for Neurorehabilitation (2016).

Physical Conditions

Number 15: N. García-Casares, J.E. Martín-Colom and J.A. García-Arnés, showed in their work, Music Therapy in Parkinson’s Disease (2018), that music therapy has been shown to have beneficial effects for the non-pharmacological treatment of motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Number 16: Alongside improved psychological wellbeing, the use of musical rhythm can improve gait, coordination, balance and postural control in the treatment and management of the condition. Research by M. V. Thoma, R. La Marca, R. Brönnimann, L. Finkel, U. Ehlert, and U. M. Nater,  The Effect of Music on the Human Stress Response (2013), suggests that making music can alter gene expression linked with stress and immune function.

Number 17: Music is proposed to be beneficial for relaxation in people with cardiovascular disease through its simultaneous effects on psychological, neurological, immunological and endocrine processes, leading to reduced stress and pain, according to A. Raglio in their work, Music Therapy Interventions in Parkinson’s Disease: The State-of-the-Art (2015).

Number 18: Evidence suggests that people who engage with the arts are more likely to lead healthier lives, including eating healthily and staying physically active, irrespective of their socioeconomic status and social capital. Read more here.

Read the Power of Music report from UK Music and Music for Dementia here

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