The Sound Health Network is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, in partnership with the University of California, San Francisco, in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and Renée Fleming.
Our mission is to promote research and public awareness about the impact of music on health and wellness. Visit our website here.

SHN Newsletter: Summer Issue

Sound Health: Renew/Remix

October 2-3, 2022

The John F. Kennedy for the Performing Arts

Renew/Remix is the most recent installment of the Sound Health initiative at the Kennedy Center, a powerful partnership with the National Institute of Health (NIH), soprano Renée Fleming, and Dr. Francis Collins, science advisor to the President and longest serving director of the NIH, in association with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Sound Health Network (SHN), an NEA initiative in partnership with the University of California San Francisco. The goal of Sound Health is to promote the intersection of music, health, and wellness.

The Kennedy Center will host a 2-day convening designed to illustrate the power of music in helping us navigate the “new normal” we’ve been thrust into after two years of pandemic.

Hosted by Renée Fleming and Dr. Francis Collins, the centerpiece of the convening will be a performance at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall on the evening of October 2, which will feature a roster of world-class artists in performance and conversation with music therapists, researchers, and scientists.

The Sound Health Network Student Affinity group will be participating in a session on Monday, October 3. Stay tuned for details!

Event information and tickets can be found here

September 14:

Writing a Strong Research Plan

Watch LIVE here!

Writing a Strong Research Plan” will be the second session in the “Music and Health Grant Writing Series”, sponsored by the Sound Health Network in collaboration with the NEA and NIH. This session will go into more depth about the research plan section of a grant application.

Music Therapy and Mental Health Infographic

The Sound Health Network and the American Music Therapy Association joined forces to create a simple and effective infographic detailing the benefits of music therapy on mental health.

Check out the infographic here!

Join the SHN Directory!

The Sound Health Network Directory brings together researchers, musicians, music therapists, music and arts organizations and other stakeholders who work at the intersection of music and health and well-being. This is a searchable directory of participants in our network. To add yourself or your organization, please click here.

We would like to announce a special call for students to join the SHN directory so we can contact you about a student affinity group in development.

Spotlight On:

Deforia Lane PhD, MT-BC

At our inaugural convening this past June, we were in the company of Dr. Deforia Lane who spoke on one of our panels, When Music Relieves Pain and Suffering. We witnessed her as a singer, orator and storyteller. 

Dr. Lane is a Board-Certified Music Therapist and is additionally certified by the American Music Therapy Association for Faculty Authorization. She has designed and implemented music therapy programs for diverse populations including those with physical and mental disabilities, abused children, older adults, patients with behavioral and psychiatric disorders, adults and children with cancer, hospice and palliative care patients. 

Dr. Lane is a spokesperson for the American Cancer Society for which she composed and recorded the song “We Can Cope”. Public notice of her work extends from recognition in publications such as Reader’s Digest and Coping Magazine to forums such as National Public Radio, Cable News Network, CBS This Morning, Associated Press, Wall Street Journal TV and ABC World News with Peter Jennings

Her TEDx Talk lays out the case for music therapy as a partnership between humans and their art, “life on the inside, responding to art on the outside.”

Dr. Lane will be presenting at the Sound Health: Renew/Remix event in October.

Watch the SHN's June convening and other Sound Health events here.

In Conversation with Filmmaker Jon Kaufman:

Music Therapy Helps Veterans cope with Trauma

Jon Kaufman is life-long musician and filmmaker, whose work includes an impressive list of media companies and clients. Along with El Sawyer, he cofounded Media in Neighborhoods Group, and their latest documentary film, Music Vets, explores music therapy programs and the therapeutic use of music across the US, chronicling the experiences of veterans when it comes to music and revealing that music itself doesn’t always heal in a straight line nor is a magic panacea. 

We asked Kaufman to share his story; his personal experience with music, sound intervention during the pandemic and how making this film helped him find parallels in creating music and using music as a therapeutic practice to heal.

Can you share an early music experience that was defining to your development as a music lover?

As a child, I was fortunate to be exposed to everything from The Beatles to 2Pac, to klezmer music and show tunes. One summer when I was around 10 years old I saw a band performing at an outdoor stage in Philadelphia, PA. I don't remember the specifics, but I recall hearing the bass from blocks away, feeling the bass vibrations as I got closer, then watching the bass player, everything just “clicked.” I realized and felt that there was a whole conversation happening between the band, within the music, and between the band and the audience. I’ve been a bass player ever since. Music has always been a spiritual, emotional, physical, and metaphysical experience for me.

During our inaugural convening, you talked about your experience with music during isolation. Can you share how music was a sound intervention for you or had a therapeutic affect?

While working on this film, we traveled extensively between Philadelphia, NYC, and the West Coast, visiting different music therapy programs and groups and ultimately filming some for the documentary. [We] saw people playing “tongue drums,” which are simple, steel acoustic instruments, usually with 8-12 notes all in one key, so there are no “wrong notes.” I bought one before the pandemic and dabbled, but it became an essential tool for me during the isolation of Covid. Being a single parent was extremely tough during this time, and music is always a way to change or set a mood, be creative together, be in the moment, and get to that “flow state.” When you are playing music and really in it, nothing else is on your mind, it's freeing. I’ve seen it in both myself and my daughter.

What was your personal association to music as therapy? Did it inspire an impetus to make this film?

The majority of our film work over the last 10+ years has focused on trauma, cycles of incarceration, poverty, and the real, unfiltered experiences of people living within these systems and the external forces that created and maintains these spaces.


In 2017, A mutual friend introduced us to Rodd Berro, who served as the board chair at the Music Conservatory of Westchester in White Plains, NY, which had recently started a music therapy program specifically for Veterans. After a brief conversation, we realized a parallel between people returning home from prison and people returning to civilian life post-military service. In both cases, people return home from complex and often traumatic experiences to unforgiving environments that often involve ill-equipped and overwhelmed systems to support them.


Rodd then offered to executive produce the film with us to amplify the message of music therapy's power and bring awareness to the challenges service men/women and their families face due to the lack of a human approach to care.

In the film, there are specific instances where we see music being used in a therapeutic setting by board-certified music therapists and there is also the distinction of music’s use for the sake of sound intervention. As a cinematographer, how did you show this difference, between the work that music therapists do and other types of music-based interventions?

We learned early in the process about the importance of differentiating the differences between music therapy, the therapeutic use of music, sound healing, drum circles, and more. This is a very sensitive subject around language and classification, and rightfully so. Music Therapists are board-certified and undergo years of careful study and training as therapists. There are countless programs and initiatives that advocate for bringing music and musicians who are not music therapists into spaces and places that could benefit from it, but it's important that we not label these as music therapy. 


Throughout the film, some scenes show music therapy practices and techniques. Still, because of privacy and HIPAA laws, we did not include any actual private music therapy sessions in the film. At the same time, you will see in the film that creating music in many ways, shapes, and forms can itself be therapeutic and lead to personal, emotional changes and evolutions. We felt several intimate, emotional, and powerful moments needed to be communicated in a more cerebral, engaging way and used animation to show this. 

What were the challenges to doing so – defining the difference between the two through your choice of scenes or in conveying a particular veteran’s story without compromising privacy and maintaining authenticity to the client process?

We always felt [that] what was missing from this larger conversation was deep personal stories that showcase the intimate and delicate networks of family, care, providers, and cultural elements that cannot be communicated with data or reports. Neither one of us are veterans; our approach to this film was to employ an abundance of respect and humility in that we could never truly know or feel what those who served have gone through. At the same time, as non-veterans, when we stepped into this space, we did a lot of listening and learning and just got to know vets before any filming took place. There is a large empathy gap between those served and those who haven’t. As outsiders, we feel film is one of the best ways to close this gap and show humanity through music that connects us all.

Was there a view you had of music therapy before making the film, that has since changed? How do you think this film can be an ambassador for future advocacy of the power of music as sound intervention and/or therapy.  

Going into this project, we knew nothing about music therapy… or the depth of the world we were entering.


Modern music therapy as we know it began in WWII, so the focus on Veterans with PTSD and traumatic brain injuries as subjects for us, helped to connect a lot of dots. Still, the application and takeaways of the film should be for everyone in these spaces of mental health, creative arts therapy, brain science, and so-called “alternative therapies.”

For the first time, however, there is an amazing confluence of organizations and institutions coming together to address it in new ways and break through the fog, for example, the Sound Health Network. We know in our souls and feel in our bodies that art and music are beneficial for physical and mental health, and now we are building our collective toolkits to research, lead, and push this conversation forward.  

The world premiere of Music Vets will take place on Monday, October 3 at the Sound Health: Renew/Remix Event. Courtesy of the film's directors, enjoy a sneak preview of the documentary film trailer here.

Research Spotlight: Sound, Speech and Spontaneity

Sarah Hennessy et al, 2022 Speech-in-noise perception in musicians and non-musicians: A multi-level meta-analysisSpeech-in-noise perception, the ability to hear a relevant voice within a noisy background, is important for successful communication. Musicians have been reported to perform better than non-musicians on speech-in-noise tasks. This meta-analysis uses a multi-level design to assess the claim that musicians have superior speech-in-noise abilities compared to non-musicians. 

Benjamin M Kubit, Petr Janata, 2022 Spontaneous mental replay of music improves memory for incidentally associated event knowledge  Across three experiments, two common musical phenomena, involuntary musical imagery (INMI; commonly called "earworms") and music-evoked remembering, in testing the hypothesis that such imagery aids in the consolidation of memory for events with which music becomes associated. 

Matthew E Sachs, et al. 2020 Dynamic Intersubject Neural Synchronization Reflects Affective Responses to Sad Music There exists a gap between psychological theories of emotion and static stimuli that neuroimaging studies rely on to capture brain activity. This study addresses this gap, using intersubject correlation and phase synchronization to assess how stimulus-driven changes in brain activity and connectivity are related to two aspects of emotional experience: emotional intensity and enjoyment.

Reyna L Gordon, Miriam D Lense, 2020 Interprofessional education of the next generation of musician-scientists through music cognition research training: An innovative platform for health professions and biomedical research  Music Cognition is a highly interdisciplinary space and a basis for interprofessional education across health professions. This paper looks at the ability of recent music cognition research to present a diverse array of skill development opportunities and set the tone for productive and innovative interdisciplinary collaboration training of future clinicians and biomedical researchers.

Porter S, McConnell T, et al, 2017 Music therapy for children and adolescents with behavioural and emotional problems: a randomised controlled trial  Music therapy (MT) is considered an effective intervention for young people with mental health needs but its efficacy in clinical settings is unclear. Two hundred and fifty-one child were randomized in 12 weekly sessions with positive outcomes including improvement in communication, social functioning, self-esteem, depression and family functioning. 

Kimberly Sena Moore, Deanna Hanson-Abromeit, 2015 Theory-guided Therapeutic Function of Music to facilitate emotion regulation development in preschool-aged children  Current treatments for Emotion regulation (ER)are predominantly verbal- and behavioral-based and lack the opportunity to practice in-the-moment management of emotionally charged situations.  This paper describes the Therapeutic Function of Music (TFM), a theory-based description of the structural characteristics for a music-based stimulus to musically facilitate developmentally appropriate high arousal and low arousal in-the-moment ER experiences.

Related Conferences and Events

Sound Health: Renew/Remix

October 2-3, 2022

Creating Healthy Communities 2022 Convening

October 10-11, 2022

Click here for additional upcoming events!

Job Opportunities in Music and Health

Postdoctoral Research Assistant, University of Reading, UK

Postdoctoral Positions, LIVELab, McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind

Doctoral students, The Subjectivity Lab, Dept. of Psychology, Northeastern University

PhD students, Language, Attention, Music, and Audition (LAMA) lab, University of Toronto - Mississauga. Candidates interested in studying the development of auditory processing should email Dr. Christina Vanden Bosch der Nederlanden at

Funding Opportunities

Did you miss our webinar on applying for NIH and NEA grants? You can find the slides and webinar presentation with Q&A here.

NIH Music and Health: Understanding And Developing Music Medicine (R21 Clinical Trial Optional)

This funding opportunity is intended to: (1) increase our understanding of how music affects the brain when it is used therapeutically and/or (2) use that knowledge to better develop evidence-based music interventions to enhance health or treat specific diseases and disorders.

NIH Music and Health: Understanding And Developing Music Medicine (R01 Clinical Trial Optional)

This funding opportunity is intended to: (1) increase our understanding of how music affects the brain when it is used therapeutically and/or (2) use that knowledge to better develop evidence-based music interventions to enhance health or treat specific diseases and disorders.

NIH Promoting Research on Music and Health: Phased Innovation Award for Music Interventions (R61/R33 Clinical Trial Optional)

The purpose of this FOA is to promote innovative research on music and health with an emphasis on developing music interventions aimed at understanding their mechanisms of action and clinical applications for the treatment of many diseases, disorders, and conditions.

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