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: Spring 2023

Musicians and Mental Health

Up Next:

Webinar: Music Talks: What if we Taught our Kids to Play Music The Way We Teach Them To Speak?

May 31, 2023

Our next webinar will premiere live on YouTube on May 31, 2023.

We'll be talking to legendary bassists Victor Wooten and Mike Pope, who'll be in conversation with SHN Co-Director Dr. Charles Limb. You'll find it on our YouTube Channel, and while there, don't forget to subscribe, and check out our other content. 

Virtual Networking Platform Live Day: Student Perspectives on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Music for Health

June 7, 2023

This June, SHN is hosting another Live Day on our Virtual Networking Platform to network and discuss students perspective on diversity, equity and inclusion in music for health.

Featured Panelists:

-Darina Petrovsky, PhD, RN, Rutgers University

-Helena Hansen, MD, PhD, UCLA

-Marisol NorrisPhD, Black Music Therapy Network, Inc.

In this live event, panelists will offer insight on how music for health can benefit from the inclusion of diverse perspectives. There will also be networking opportunities. View the agenda and access the platform here!

Please submit questions for our panelists in advance by June 5 at

Spotlight On:

Victor Wooten

Born the youngest of five boys, Victor Wooten began learning to play music at the tender age of two. He started performing in nightclubs and theaters as the bassist with the family band at age five, and by age six, was on tour with his brothers opening shows for legendary soul artist Curtis Mayfield. Soon after, he was affectionately known as the 8-year-old Bass Ace.

Wooten, now a five-time Grammy winner, hit the worldwide scene in 1990 as a founding member of the super-group Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. Continuing to blaze a musical trail with the band, Victor has also become widely known for his own Grammy nominated solo recordings and tours. Among other things, he is a loving husband and father of four, a skilled naturalist and teacher, a published author, a magician and acrobat, and has won every major award given to a bass guitarist including being voted Bassist of the Year in Bass Player Magazine's readers poll three times (the only person to win it more than once.) In 2011, Rolling Stone Magazine voted Victor one of the Top Ten Bassists of ALL TIME.

Join us for the premiere of our upcoming webinar featuring Victor Wooten, Mike Pope and Dr. Charles Limb here on May 31, 2023.

Watch other Sound Health Network events here.

Creating Connections: Highlighting collaboration interests from

Sound Health Network Directory participants

Kathleen Riley is a pianist, researcher, and teacher who has served as faculty at the Cleveland Institute of Music and has run a biofeedback lab. She is currently a visiting scholar at San Francisco State University.  She will be researching neuromuscular problems and performance anxiety in musicians and the effects of biofeedback on musicians’’ psychophysiology. Therefore, she is currently looking for collaborators who are interested in neuromuscular re-education for musicians, and mind/body connections for musicians.   

Christophe Jackson, PhD., DMA, MSPAS, PA-C, received his doctorates in Biology, Mechanical Engineering, and Piano Performance and a master’s degree in physician assistant studies from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he studies the effects of music on cognition, performance, and stress. He employs his expertise and experience with medicine, science, engineering, and music to improve access to healthcare through the development of Musician's Health Clinics, research, and technology. He is looking for collaborators interested in researching the intersection between music and stress. 


View the SHN Directory here to discover and connect with stakeholders working at the intersection of music and health. 

Create a Directory profile here. 

The Sound Health Network is a Music Man Foundation Strengthening the Sector Grant Recipient!

We’re celebrating! The SHN has received a grant from The Music Man Foundation to help us grow the capacity of the SHN. Please stay tuned for some important updates with regards to this generous grant.

In Conversation:

 with Nicholas Feemster

The Sound Health Network met rapper Nicholas Feemster, whose stage name is NiccoFeem, at the NAMM Show this past April and we were immediately captivated by his story. He began his musical career at the age of 13, when his father handed him a pen and told him to write down the lyrics that were flowing through his brain. When he was 16, he performed for the first time in a high school talent show and took home the first-place prize. That accolade convinced him that music was his future.


Nicco's music has been compared to emotionally driven artists 2pac, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and J.Cole. His aggressive delivery, relatable storytelling, lyricism, and melodic style separates his music from the rest in ways that help him instantly garner fans when they hear his music.


And his musical roots run deep. Nicco’s grandfather (Herb Fame) is one half of the critically acclaimed R&B duo, Peaches & Herb who created hits like “Shake Your Groove Thing” and the triple platinum song “Reunited.”

But it wasn't his skills as a musician or his family history that captured our attention: it was his commitment to using music to help his community regain and maintain good mental health. Recently, NiccoFeem spearheaded a global social media campaign called #letjustbehonest2020 in partnership with the Black Mental Wellness Corporation to represent the positive impact music can have on mental health. He has also been published in European media and has had his lyrics added into high school and college curricula.

NiccoFeem has been featured on NBC, MSNBC, The Kelly Clarkson Show, Good Morning America, and many other National Outlets. Feemster is currently enlisted in the Military as one of the first two full-time Hip Hop Artists ever to be employed by the U.S. Army. His core fanbase stretches across the world and we're excited to watch it continue to grow in the coming years.

SHN asks: We'd love to know your origin story. What was your journey to becoming a rapper, then joining the army and ultimately the Army Band? 


NiccoFeem: Since I was 13, my dream was always to become an artist. At first, it began as an innocent way to express myself. It didn’t become anything serious until I began to experience difficulties in life and had no other way to deal with my emotions. I come from a single mother home and always struggled with low self-esteem. I never had a consistent male presence in my life which caused me to question who I was or who I wanted to become for years. I struggled through school and despite graduating college with dual degrees in business from Georgia State University I still felt empty. I bounced around several failed relationships and job opportunities for years until I finally gave up and said, “I need to make music work”. Through those experiences music was how I was able to maintain. When something would happen, I’d write about it which gave me solace. It’s how I came up with my slogan “Let’s Just Be Honest”. It's a testament to how I was able to change my life through musical expression. The phrase illustrates honesty through deep self-reflection. As I found myself through my creativity on this journey, the army position came to my attention in late 2021. I auditioned and was selected along with another artist Lamar Riddick becoming the first full time rappers ever hired in United States military history.   


SHN asks: Can you share a little about making a living as a musician. What are the challenges and how do you face them?


NiccoFeem: I’d say the business side of music has been the most challenging. What it takes to make the music I make is completely different than what it takes to be a professional. It's a delicate balancing act that every artist I think understands they need to have but struggle to maintain. Another challenge is constantly understanding that I can always get better no matter how much I achieve. Being a professional musician means developing your craft every day so I'm constantly testing the limits of my abilities only to find out I have so much more to learn. 


SHN asks: What role has the intersection of music and mental health played in your life and career?

NiccoFeem: Music and mental health are the direct reason I am the person I am today. Without them, I’m sure I am nowhere near the man I have become. Focusing on my mental health using music has made me more confident, self-aware, and understanding of my strengths and weaknesses as a person. It has most importantly given me peace with myself and understanding I won’t ever be perfect, but I can always control how I present myself to the world and those around me. I never wanted to be the person who everyone can tell struggles with unresolved trauma yet never does anything about it. In my opinion, the biggest gift we can give others is showing up as the best version of ourselves no matter how difficult it may be because inevitably, we are all fighting on some level even if you can’t physically see it. You never know who you can inspire by simply being you.

To hear his music and learn more about his journey, watch the video below. Please be aware that there is some explicit language in this video, and topics that might be sensitive to some viewers. Please take care while watching.

This is a video documenting Nicholas Feemster's approach to music.

Affinity Group Announcements

The Sound Health Network is pleased to announce the formation of an affinity group centered around the topic of music and integrative health

What is Integrative Health?

Integrative medicine or integrative healthcare involves bringing conventional and complementary approaches together in a coordinated way. We promote healing-oriented healthcare that takes account of the whole person. We emphasize the relationship between practitioner and patient, we seek out scientific evidence, and we work with a range of healthcare professionals, disciplines, and therapeutic techniques to achieve health and well-being.


The group is led by Suzanne B. Hanser Ed.D. MT-BC, founding chair emerita of Berklee's Music Therapy Department and president of the International Association for Music & Medicine.


To join the music and integrative health affinity group and learn about upcoming meetings, please join the group’s listserv here. Our next meeting will take place on June 6.


The goals of Affinity Groups for the Sound Health Network are to:

  • facilitate connections among stakeholders who have a mutual interest in music and health
  • facilitate cross-disciplinary communication and collaboration (e.g., researchers, music therapists, musicians)
  • provide a forum to discuss topics of interest (e.g., appropriate control conditions, study designs, music interventions, training)
  • build community and provide support


To learn more about other affinity groups, please click here.

Call for Research Posters!


In our efforts to expand the Sound Health Network Virtual Networking Platform, we will be featuring research posters from the past, present, or future. 



-Content must be related to music and health research

-PDF of 1 PowerPoint slide (less than 20 MB)

-Include the introduction, methods, results, and discussion sections

-Also include authors and affiliations

-If including videos, submit videos as MP4, MOV, WMV, AVI, or FLV (up to 5 GB)


To view a poster example, please log on to the SHN virtual platform and navigate to the “Poster Room”. 


If you would like to share a research poster, please email our virtual networking platform manager Caroline Wagner at Please note: poster submissions are kindly requested by May 31. We will give priority to Sound Health initiative grant recipients. Poster submission does not guarantee that the poster will be uploaded. 


We will upload posters on our Sound Health Network Virtual Networking Platform. The poster will be associated with your email account so people can contact you about your poster.

From our NIH Partners: NIH Music-Based Intervention Toolkit for Brain Disorders of Aging

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) recently launched the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Music-Based Intervention Toolkit for Brain Disorders of Aging. This web-based resource will help researchers and health professionals interested in exploring music-based interventions for brain disorders of aging; it was adapted from a paper published in the journal, Neurology on May 1, 2023.

Learn more about the researcher toolkit in the NCCIH Research blog here.

Access the toolkit here.

Funding Opportunities

Creative Arts Therapy Research Funding Opportunity

Creative Forces: National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Military Healing Arts Network is embarking on the next phase of research funding to address priority research questions identified by Creative Forces in art therapy and music therapy. 

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.

In Case You Missed it: Writing a Strong Research Plan

Watch a recording here!

Writing a Strong Research Plan” was 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 went into more depth about the research plan section of a grant application, with a particular focus on music and health grants.

Research Spotlight: Music and Mental Health

Johnson and Heiderscheit 2018 A Content analysis of Mental Health Discourse in Popular Rap Music. Rap artists are celebrities who reach a diverse audience through their lyrics. Due to their broad appeal and influence, this experiment looked at mental health themes in popular rap music among US youth, particularly young African American males.  The researchers took 126 songs and examined references to anxiety, depression, and other mental health topics.  In general, from 1998-2018, there was an increase in the number of songs referencing suicide, depression, and mental health metaphors. This increase in references is notable because future research could examine how these lyrics shape youths' behavior in the US.

Kreosovich et al. 2021 An Experimental Test of Pop Music Lyrics Referencing Anxiety n Female College Students’ Audience Involvement and Peer Mental Health Empathy. Psychologists have found that mental health empathy helps to decrease the stigma around mental health issues. This experiment explored whether pop songs referencing mental health difficulties lead to increased mental health empathy. By looking at pop songs that had lyrics referencing anxiety or other mental health issues, the researchers found that just one exposure to a pop song with these themes could influence peer mental health empathy in female college students.  Song lyrics are helpful communication forums to increase empathy, decrease stigma, and encourage positive behavior changes regarding mental health. 

Frietas et al. 2022 Music Therapy for Adolescents with Psychiatric Disorders: an Overview. Adolescence is one of the peak times when psychiatric disorders occur, and music is often used for identity, connection, and emotional regulation among adolescents. This review article of music therapy journals found that music therapy interventions can improve self-esteem and social engagement, decrease social isolation, and decrease depressive and anxiety symptoms in adolescents in inpatient and outpatient settings.  Although more research is needed, there is positive support for music therapy as an intervention for youth mental health. 

Rodwin et al. 2022 A Systematic Review of Music-Based Interventions to Improve Treatment Engagement and Mental Health Outcomes for Adolescents and Young Adults. Mental health disorders and suicidality are rising in adolescents and young adults, but treatment engagement is, unfortunately, relatively low for this population.  This systematic review examined evidence that music interventions improve engagement in treatment and mental health outcomes in adolescents and young adults. The review found that most studies report significant effects on mental health outcomes for social and emotional improvements, but more studies using rigorous methods are needed. In other words, more research is required to understand how, why, and for whom music interventions work. 

Related Conferences and Events

The Sound Health Network Co-Director Julene Johnson will present a virtual presentation at the Arts & Mind Village Convening on May 24. The convening will create an engaging environment where scientists, researchers and members of the community discuss the impact and actualization of the arts and healing. Topics to be explored include social justice, art prescription and the importance of actualization in the arts and healing dynamic. Attendees can enjoy a series of sessions, panelists and leaders of the arts and health community are empowered to embrace art more deeply as a vital part of health and wellbeing. 

June 13-16, 2024 - The Neurosciences and Music: Wiring, re-wiring, and well-being. Helsinki, Finland & Online

Click here for additional upcoming events!

Job Opportunities in Music and Health

Check out music and health job opportunities on our website here!

Postdoctoral Fellowship In Performing Arts & HealthJohn Hopkins University: Peabody Institute has a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Performing Arts & Health. The Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University invites applications for three postdoctoral fellowship positions for the 2023-2024 academic year.

Due to the interdisciplinary nature of this challenge and a highly collaborative context that includes scholars from across the Johns Hopkins University, performing arts scholars with STEM and/or social and behavioral science training/experiences are encouraged to apply. Priority given to applications received by May 1, 2023.  Start date July 1, 2023

Multiple Anticipated Positions in the Music, Social Engagement, and Development Workgroup in the Vanderbilt Music Cognition Lab, Nashville, TN (PI: MIriam Lense, PhD)

  • Music Therapist (Part or Full-Time) *Note: combined music therapist/postdoctoral fellow position possible for candidates with both clinical and research training
  • Postdoctoral Fellow (Part or Full-Time) *Clinical experience/skills preferred
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