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 Monthly Newsletter: April 2022
Therapeutic Applications of Music for Pain Relief
In Conversation
Music Therapy Expressed in Creative Arts
For this month’s In Conversation, we look at the effects of opioids on towns in America as documented by those in the creative arts. We share their work and ask our readers to consider how music therapy might be beneficial, bringing hope through pain management in these cities, as documented by two photographers. 

Philip Eastman is a photographer who has used his lens to expose the effects of the opioid epidemic in America. In 2017, he shared an image via Instagram demonstrating how opioids were affecting people in Austin, Indiana.

In 2015, the small town of Austin, Indiana (pop. 4300) experienced an outbreak of HIV and Hepatitis C due to rampant unsafe needle use while using the opioid OpanaER. Two years later, and the community is still finding ways to navigate the ravages of addiction, the government sanctioned needle exchange, and the economic decline that has hit the community for decades. I've been spending time in Austin, speaking to doctors, nurses, former addicts and community members to cover what happens when the news cameras leave and town works to survive.” 

Image via Instagram
In 2016, Lily Rothman wrote ‘A Caring Lens On The Opioid Crisis’ for Time, with the goal of bringing more sensitivity and humanity to those affected by the drugs. Recognizing that the opioid epidemic is in need of documentation, the article was paired with photographs by Jeffrey Stockbridge, a Philadelphia-based photographer in the city’s Kensington neighborhood. The five-year project culminated in a book titled, Kensington Blues.

“It was by returning again and again over the course of years—spending real time with people rather than snapping a photo and going back to his own life—that he gained their trust. In turn, he was able to give them a way to have their voices heard, which he did by pairing their photos with written and audio statements that he published online.

That kind of investment of time and understanding is something Stockbridge believes is necessary to finding effective solutions to the epidemic. As he sees it, it’s tempting for government leaders and local police officers to move people around, clearing them from one spot or another, or to say that people suffering from addiction should take the responsibility for getting themselves clean. But that’s not what works, he says. ‘Local organizations that offer harm-reduction in Kensington work.’”

Research Spotlight: Opioids & Pain Management

Low, Lacson, Zhang, Kesslick and Bradt 2020,  Vocal Music Therapy for Chronic Pain: A Mixed Methods Feasibility Study This mixed methods feasibility study for RCT used an urban nurse-management health center on the East Coast as the setting to study its subjects and the impact of Vocal Music Therapy (VMT) for those with chronic pain. To date, results suggest that vocal music therapy helps with pain management, enhanced psychological well-being, and stronger social spiritual connections. 

Howlin and Rooney 2020, The Cognitive Mechanisms in Music Listening There are cognitive mechanisms that underlie music pain interventions. This article uses the Cognitive Vitality Model (CVM) as an attempt to understand these mechanisms. As part of this scoping review, the CVM emphasizes that participants who have individual agency in mediating their music selection and more have benefits in pain reduction through meaning making, enjoyment, and musical integration. 

Nowak et al. 2020, Effect of Therapeutic suggestions during general anesthesia on postoperative pain and opioid use: multicentre randomised controlled trial  The objective of this paper was to investigate the effect and  impact of playing music through earphones to patients during surgery, on postoperative pain and opioid use. The blinded randomized controlled study revealed that the intervention group required fewer opioids in the first 24 hours after surgery and their pain scores were lower.

Vaudreil, Avila, Bradt, and Pasquina 2019, Music therapy applied to complex blast injury in interdisciplinary care: a case report This report makes for interesting reading on how music therapy can help a combat injured service member deal with discomfort and difficulties related to recuperation from complex blast-related injuries. Because of its positive effects on this patient's motivation, music therapy was a valuable tool, and an argument is made that it should be incorporated into military healthcare for the severely injured. 

Calabro and Grocke 2017, Music Therapy for Infants with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) occurs after significant in-utero exposure to opiates such as methadone and heroin which can lead to withdrawal. This study looked at both recorded sedative music (RSM) and multimodal stimulation (MMS) which includes live singing. Despite the small sample size with significant results minimal, slight trends towards reduced crying and regular respiration were observed. 

Lee 2016, The Effects of Music on Pain: A Meta-Analysis This  older meta-analysis examined then published RCT studies to investigate the effect of music on pain. The study included RCTs published between 1995 and 2014. The analysis found that music interventions significantly decreased pain, emotional distress, anesthetic use, opioid intake as well as blood pressure and respiratory rate. 

Related Conferences and Events

April 23 - 26, 2022

May 12-13, 2022 Submissions close March 11th, 2022

October 10-11, 2022

Click here for additional upcoming events!
Job Opportunities in Music and Health

Peabody Arts in Health Program Manager, Manager of Arts in Health (Partnership Manager), Baltimore, Maryland

Assistant Professor, Tenure-Track, Interaction Design, Music and Sound, New York University

Postdoctoral Research Assistant, University of Reading, UK

MRC Doctoral Training Partnership PhD studentship: investigating hearing health in musicians, University of Manchester

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

Graduate Trainee Opening, MAPLE (Music, Acoustics, Perception and LEarning) lab at McMaster University

Graduate Scholars and Post Doctoral Scholars, CD-CREATE Network (Complex Dynamics of Brain and Behavior) at McGill University

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.

NEA Research Labs funds transdisciplinary research teams grounded in the social and behavioral sciences, yielding empirical insights about the arts for the benefit of arts and non-arts sectors alike.

NEA Research Grants in the Arts funds research studies that investigate the value and/or impact of the arts, either as individual components of the U.S. arts ecology or as they interact with each other and/or with other domains of American life.

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.

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.

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.