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
March 2022
Music Therapy in the Management of Sickle Cell Disease and other Painful Conditions

In Conversation
with Jasmine Edwards:
Music Therapy as an Individualized Tool
The sounds of music often accompany the home life of future musicians. But they can also inspire a career in music therapy. For Jasmine Edwards, who began singing as a young girl, those sounds led to a dual career as a musician and music therapist. She was part of a church choir in South Florida where she grew up and attended a performing arts high school where she was a vocal major. Unsure of how music performance would shape her life, it was a serendipitous trip to a chorus camp at Florida State University where a seminar on different music majors piqued her interest. 

“After that seminar, I was really curious about how we as people relate to one another and our emotions. I came home from camp and then coincidentally my dad had recorded this documentary on PBS called The Music Instinct: Music and Human Physiology. It was about how our brains understand music and it looked at how music therapists were using music to support people who’d had a stroke or a traumatic brain injury and how music could help regain that ability because of how music is mapped in our brains,” said Edwards. 

After finishing her coursework and clinical internship, Jasmine did a six-month internship at Matheny Medical and Educational Center,  a long-term care facility that was a medical center and also a school for children. “I had the privilege of working with a few music therapists who really modeled ways of working that resonated and aligned with me.”

That experience, along with her thirst for more, inspired her to apply for a master’s program in music therapy at NYU. Her trajectory led her to internships to provide off-site music therapy services and working with children. But it was her work at the Harlem Child Development Center with children 3-5 years of age, that led her to explore the relationship between children and their caregivers. She then worked at a newly opened clinic in Brownsville, Brooklyn where she won her first grant. With this grant, “I was able to advocate that music therapy was an appropriate modality to provide parents the opportunity to engage in playful interaction, reciprocal play can be supportive of bonding and attachment. My work here clarified why I was drawn to working with children,” she shared with the SHN. 

With this experience added to her journey as a music therapist, Jasmine began to explore the role of lullabies in music therapy. From working with children at care centers to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, she realized “this sing song type of voice we use, to talk to a baby was a very important process for developing attachment with a caregiver and [it's] all based in music". She is now endeavoring to understand how to better facilitate the universal experience of cultural uses of music - like lullabies. “Every culture has lullabies… We can use music to bring a little one back to a state of safety or to a state of regulation and that comfort is important for development later in life,” said Jasmine. 

Next, Edwards began to explore the culture of music and began seeking affinity spaces with which she could connect. Upon discovering the Black Music Therapy Network, she was able to fulfill the desire she had to connect with music therapists that identified as BIPOC and immerse herself in this community. Now, the cultural significance of music became even more important in her work as a therapist, leading to her performance in “Turbulence” a therapeutic performance piece that combined music and drama therapy by Black and brown creative arts therapists.

When there’s an affinity and a particular musical background, Jasmine identifies tools to use in building relationships with those in her care. While music therapy is a comparatively young profession, she notes that music has been used as therapy for thousands of years by varying communities and she wants more people to become aware of this history.

“Music isn’t one size fits all. I want to find ways to honor how music has functioned for a person specifically,” concluded Edwards.

To learn more about how music therapy can be therapeutic for those with sickle cell disease and other painful conditions join us for our next webinar on March 30, 12pmPT/3pm ET by clicking on this link. Jasmine will be joined by music therapists Sam Rodgers-Melnick and Kelli McKee.
Research Spotlight: Sickle Cell Disease & Pain Management

Rodgers-Melnick et al. 2021 Music Use in Adult Patients with Sickle Cell Disease: A Pilot Survey Study Because sickle cell disease (SCD) affects individuals primarily of African descent, data on music preferences, resources and music-based pain strategies of adults with SCD are needed to create music therapy interventions particular to their affinity group. Adults indicated that music was helpful in managing challenges including mood, sleep and pain. 

Chen et al. 2021, Does Listening to Music Improve Pain Perception and Anxiety in Patients Undergoing Cystoscopy:  A Meta-Analysis. The study sought to identify the effect of music on outpatient-based cystoscopy. A pooled analysis of three trials indicated that patients in the music group had significantly higher post-operative satisfaction visual analog scale (VAS) scores than those in the no-music group during rigid cystoscopy. These findings indicate that listening to music contributes to the improvement of pain perception.

Pain is common and often severe in people with SCD, occurring as acute intermittent pain episodes called vaso-occlusive episodes (VOEs), as well as chronic pain conditions. This study looked at the use of music by adolescents and young adults with SCD. Inpatients between the ages of 13 to 21 identified that music was helpful for pain relief and mood regulation. 

Rodgers-Melnick et al. 2018, The Effects of a Single Electronic Music Improvisation Session on the Pain of Adults with Sickle Cell Disease: A Mixed Methods Pilot Study Pain is a significant challenge for adults with SCD. The multidimensional aspects of pain need systemic investigation to evaluate music therapy interventions addressing acute pain management. 

Bradt, J. et al. 2016 Vocal Music Therapy for Chronic Pain Management in Inner-City African Americans: A Mixed Methods Feasibility Study Though many research studies on music for pain management focus on prerecorded music, this study looked at the impact of active music therapy interventions. Vocal music therapy for chronic pain management showed effectiveness for coping with pain intensity and enhanced self-efficacy, motivation, empowerment, and social engagement. 

Gutgsell et al. 2013, Music therapy reduces pain in palliative care patients: A randomized controlled trial. Music therapy offers a nonpharmacologic and safe alternative to the treatment of pain in palliative care patients. Two hundred inpatients at University Hospitals Case Medical Center participated in this two-year study which incorporated music therapist-guided autogenic relaxation and live music. 
Related Conferences and Events

April 23 - 26, 2022

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

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

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.

Over the next five years, Creative Forces®: National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Military Healing Arts Network intends to provide $2.5 million in new research funding to support feasibility/pilot studies and subsequent randomized-controlled trials (RCTs) or other large-scale studies to address priority research questions identified by Creative Forces in art therapy and music therapy.

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.