The healing power of music

By Ray Leone, MMT, MT-BC 

Ray is a Board-Certified music therapist who directs A Place To Be’s medical music therapy program through a partnership with Inova Health Systems.

Music…it makes us feel good, it makes us dance.  Music…it soothes the soul and relaxes the body and the mind.  Music…it’s personal, it’s social and it’s spiritual.  And music…has healing powers that go beyond words.  I see those healing powers everyday in working and providing music therapy services at a major medical center and through the work being done at A Place To Be in Middleburg, VA.

Music therapy is a clinical and evidence based practice that uses music interventions to work towards individualized goals (  In the hospital setting we use music to help connect the body, the mind and the soul.  We work with patients who are going through a myriad of challenges; helping them through their journeys to heal and become “whole” again.  Bringing music to the ICU, the oncology unit, post surgical unit and pediatrics is an amazing adventure and I am honored to become a part of the amazing stories that evolve out of our work.  Here is one of those stories:

Ms. A has been recently diagnosed with a serious illness.  The prognosis is not good, and the music therapy referral was to help with pain management, anxiety and coping with her illness.  When I entered the room it was obvious that she was very ill, although she smiled and said that she was having a good day.  She told me that she was from Brazil but when I took out my guitar she said, “Oh, that makes me think of the song ‘Dust in the Wind’ (by the band Kansas). I love that song!” she said.  As I played and sang she nodded and smiled throughout and I thought, how poignant; “All we are is dust in the wind”.  She said that music lifted her up, just like the cards in her room, the flowers that were on the table and the visitors that come.  She looked outside and mentioned the sunshine and I played and sang ‘Here Comes the Sun’. Again she smiled and I had to remind myself that she was very sick.  I mentioned that she seemed quite resilient and I complimented her on her positive outlook. She then looked at me and said that she was lucky; lucky to have what she has.  I found myself in admiration of her.  When we next together sang ‘I Can See Clearly Now’ (which seemed appropriate for both of us) I felt so connected to her in that moment; in the music.  “I can see clearly now the rain is gone, its gonna be a bright, bright sun-shiny day.” When I left the room I felt positive about the remainder of the day.  Why not?  The sun was out and I got to share some music with Ms. A.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget her lovely smile.*  

Welcome to my blog Music Therapy/Music Musing where I hope to share some of the stories of the amazing people that use music to help them on their journeys.  I will also explore the fascinating world of psychology of music and how music is a part of the fabric of life.  After all…sometimes all we have is music.

(*the stories presented in this blog are based on accounts and experiences and are not actual accounts and experiences)