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.

Winter 2024 Newsletter: Joy and Happiness

Welcome our new

Executive Director!

We are thrilled to announce Dr. Sarah Thompson, PhD, MT-BC as our inaugural Executive Director! For two decades, Sarah has championed the transformative power of music in healthcare, witnessing its magic firsthand in diverse clinical settings.

Born into a musical family, Sarah initially pursued environmental science, but fate had a different melody in mind. A nudge from the career counseling office led her to music therapy, where she discovered a passion for the intersection of music and neuroscience. After moving to Colorado to pursue training in neurologic rehabilitation, Sarah earned her Master's degree and founded a music therapy organization, wearing many hats as clinician, innovator, and advocate.


In her work as a clinician, Dr. Thompson repeatedly saw the power of music to improve clinical outcomes and enrich people’s lives. She also realized that systemic changes in research, education, and advocacy are crucial for ensuring access for individual families. Armed with a PhD in Clinical Science and a tenacious spirit, she set her sights on a broader mission: integrating music and health into the core of education, healthcare, and research.


The Sound Health Network's vision deeply resonated with Sarah. After enthusiastically watching the Sound Health Initiative grow and evolve, she saw an opportunity to amplify its impact by joining our efforts at the SHN. Sarah's position is generously supported, in part, by a Strengthening the Sector grand from The Music Man Foundation to UCSF.


Join us in welcoming Dr. Thompson. Her expertise, passion, and dedication will be instrumental in solidifying helping us promote the research and impact of music on health and wellbeing.

Spotlight On:

Joanne Loewy

Joanne Loewy, DA, LCAT, MT-BC, is the Director of the Louis Armstrong Department of Music Therapy, the Center for Music and Medicine, and is an Associate Professor at the Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai Health System, in New York City.

"Music has sparked moments of joy in my practice," says Dr. Loewy, "and this year it is particularly notable in my work with the interns. Each week, I have the privilege of training music therapists and Fellows, physicians, and advanced budding music therapy clinicians are invited to participate in this advanced training. Through playing and sharing our own music, which often includes tunes from our culture/heritage, we experience joy and in this personal sharing, we foster safety, confidence and harvest a sense of community. The play and opportunities for sharing and feedback this year have been profound and surprisingly nurturing. It is not just happy joy- there is nostalgia, sometimes grief, but in general a kind of integration that sparks creativity and a shared commitment to soulfulness and authenticity. I know Louis Armstrong is smiling, and we are grateful to have the support of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, the NEA and the NIH."

Collaborations include NYC public schools, the Carnegie Hall Weill Music Institute, Lincoln Center, and multi-site research across hospitals and universities.

Announcing the Winners of the

Meredith Wilson Pilot Research Grant Program

The Music Man Foundation partnered with UCSF to offer the Meredith Willson Pilot Research Program supporting projects that focus on music and health research. The goal of this program is to encourage multidisciplinary collaborations that help catalyze research about the impact of music on health. We are excited to announce that the following 5 pilot projects were funded:

Effects of music enrichment on health in early life

Principal Investigator: Samuel Mehr, PhD

Affiliation: Yale Child Study Center, Yale University

Early life experiences have profound effects on lifelong physical and mental health. This pilot study will explore whether music can causally improve the wellbeing of both infants and parents. The researchers will complete a 10-week randomized feasibility study to evaluate 3 low-cost, smartphone-based interventions (singing, music listening, and book reading) designed to improve parent-infant interactions. They will use ecological momentary assessment (EMA) measures of infant and parent health (delivered by text messages) and surveys and determine the feasibility of conducting a larger study.

Development of Biomarkers Associated with Changes in Motor Symptoms after Music Listening in Persons with Parkinson’s Disease

Principal Investigator: Elizabeth Stegemöller, PhD, MT-BC

Affiliation: Department of Kinesiology, Iowa State University

Current treatments for Parkinson’s disease (PD) have limited effects on symptoms. Engaging in music stimulates brain networks that affect movement. This pilot study will use novel technologies to determine if listening to preferred music changes brain oscillations measured by EEG, compared to white noise, in persons with PD. The team will also determine if listening to preferred music changes a stress response (measured by cortisol released by the skin) and improves movement. This study will determine the feasibility of using potential biomarkers of music listening using simple, non-invasive technology, which could be applied to future mechanistic studies.

Group parent-infant music-based intervention to support pre-linguistic language acquisition for infants at-risk for language delay due to social determinants of health

Principal Investigator: Deanna Hanson-Abromeit, PhD, MT-BC

Co-Principal Investigators: Amy Smith, Ph.D., MT-BC and Brenda Salley, Ph.D.

Affiliation: University of Kansas School of Music

Infants who live in under resourced environments are at-risk for language delays as they enter school. The overall objective of this pilot is to refine the Infant Pre-Linguistic Singing (IPLS) intervention for use with parent-infant dyads and to examine parent and infant acceptability in preparation for feasibility and larger studies. Intervention refinement will involve strengthening the theoretical framework and operationalizing the IPLS music-based intervention. Next, the research team will complete an 8-week pilot study to assess acceptability in preparation for a larger study.

Following the beat of your own drum: Using a rhythm-based musical intervention to improve music appreciation and quality of life in cochlear implant recipients

Principal Investigator: Samantha R. O’Connell, PhD

Affiliation: University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine

Cochlear implants (CIs) are remarkable auditory protheses that allow one million profoundly deaf individuals to hear once again. Currently, there are no regulated music-based interventions for CI users that successfully rehabilitate music listening in the way auditory verbal therapy has done for speech. This pilot study will complete a novel 12-week rhythm-based musical drumming intervention with the goal of improving music appreciation and quality of life in adult CI users. O'Connell and team will investigate the impact of a musical drumming intervention on CI users’ music appreciation and ascertain if individual and group drumming will improve CI users’ quality of life. Results will be used to design a larger study.

In Tune: Music for Pediatric Mental Health

Principal Investigator: Martha Whitfield, APRN (doctoral student) and Clinical Assistant Professor

Co-Principal Investigator: Eve Spratt, MD

Affiliation: School of Nursing, University of Vermont

The primary goal of the In Tune: Music for Pediatric Mental Health study is to explore whether music participation, through violin instruction within the academic classroom setting, has an impact on behavioral domains of student wellbeing and on future risk for development of mental health and substance use disorders. This pilot project will involve collecting baseline data from children in grades three to five in a culturally diverse, high-needs arts magnet school. The researchers will determine whether violin instruction during the school day influences student resilience, mental health, and reduces risk factors associated with future substance use in preparation for a larger, longitudinal study.

Sparking Joy with Music

This is a video featuring a joyful music therapy session with a hospitalized patient.

This quarter's newsletter is packed with content so we're keeping our conversation piece short. But we dare you to watch this video of music therapist Jaclyn Bradley Palmer, MT-BC and her patient at University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio and *not* crack a smile, or feel joy.

Season Four of the Podcast Cadence:

What Music Tells us About the Mind has Launched!

We're thrilled to let you know that Cadence: What Music Tells us About the Mind, the podcast hosted, written and created by Dr. Indre Viskontas, our Director of Communications, has begun a new season! This season tells the stories of people who experience music differently - and who use it not only as a form of expression, but as a way of communicating in a society that often ignores or outright silences them. It also features four episodes with the legendary Dr. Connie Tomaino, laying out the nuts and bolts of music therapy across four different clinical populations. Other episodes include interviews with solo percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, conductors Dr. Emelyne Bingham and Edwin Outwater, jazz pianist Michael Wolff and others. Tune in wherever you get your podcasts, or follow this link.

Upcoming Grant Opportunity from the NEA

Guidelines for the next cycle of research grants for the arts have been posted. The deadline to apply is March 25th, 2024.


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

With these guidelines, the NEA welcomes research proposals that align with at least one of the priority topics and possible questions within the agency’s FY 2022-2026 research agenda. The priority topics, in brief, are posted herein.

At the end of the grant period, Research Grants in the Arts awardees will be required to submit a 20-50-page research paper (Product Requirement); see Research Grants in the Arts Study Findings page for examples of previous grantees' final research products. For more information related to the Product Requirement, see “Award Administration.”

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.

In Case You Missed it

Music as Medicine: The Science and Clinical Practice Workshop

On December 14-15, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) workshop event 'Music as Medicine: The Science and Clinical Practice' jointly organized with the Renée Fleming Foundation and

The Kennedy Center occurred.

The workshop was cochaired by Dr. Francis Collins, former NIH director, and Ms. Renée Fleming, the renowned soprano and arts and health advocate, both of whom delivered keynote speeches. In each of the six scientific sessions during the 2-day workshop, a short musical performance highlighting the scientific theme, followed by scientific talks and discussions with eminent speakers and panelists to enrich the content and perspectives for general discussions was conducted.

The video recordings of the two-day Music as Medicine: The Science and Clinical Practice Workshop are available for viewing: Day One and Day Two.

Music and Health Mock Study Section with Q&A

Watch a recording here!

Music and Health” Mock Study Section with Q&A” was the third in the “Music and Health Grant Writing Series”, sponsored by the Sound Health Network and NIH. The music and health research community were invited to join this 90 minute webinar accompanied by a 20-minute Q&A to a) become familiar with the NIH study section review process; b) better understand how reviewers present and discuss applications to the NIH; c) learn about the importance of the review criteria: significance, innovation, investigators, approach, environment, and additional review criteria; and d) better understand the roles of the primary reviewers, the panel, and NIH staff in a NIH study section review. 

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: Joy and Happiness

Weinberg MK, Joseph D If you’re happy and you know it: Music Engagement and Subjective Well-being,” Weinberg and Joseph interviewed 1000 participants over the phone to discover how music engagement is linked to well-being.  They found that engaging with music, like dancing or attending concerts and events, increases well-being. Also, interview results showed that music engagement WITH other people leads to higher well-being, suggesting that music's social, interpersonal nature is important. 

Koelsch, S, 2020 In the article “A coordinate-based meta-analysis of music-evoked emotions,” Koelsch analyzed 47 fMRI experiments that examined music’s power to evoke emotions like happiness, joy, fear, and surprise. This analysis showed that the amygdala, anterior hippocampus, auditory cortex, and parts of the reward network, such as the nucleus accumbens, are brain structures involved in music-evoked emotions. These results underline the rewarding nature of music and the importance of the hippocampus, a brain structure that supports social bonding and attachment.  

Ascenso, S, 2021 In “Flourishing through Music Creation: A Qualitative Investigation of the Lullaby Project Among Refugee and Incarcerated Communities,” Ascenso investigated the experience of the Lullaby Project. This program pairs expectant and new mothers with professional musicians to create a lullaby for their children. The pilot of this Lullaby Project in the UK paired refugee mothers and inmate fathers with musicians from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The interview results showed that the Lullaby project carried significance in 3 main areas: 1) well-being, 2) proactivity, and 3) reflectiveness.  For example, in the well-being area, participants reported a strong sense of accomplishment, meaning, connectedness, and positive emotions. 

Daykin N, Mansfield L, Meads C, Julier G, Tomlinson A, Payne A, Duffy LGrigsby, Lane J, D'Innocenzo G, Burnett A, Kay T, Dolan P, Testoni S, Victor C 2018, In the article “What works for well-being? A systematic review of well-being outcomes for music and singing in adults,” the authors reviewed experiments where music was linked to well-being. In young adults, music reduces anxiety. In adults, music enhances mood and purpose.  In people with health conditions such as stroke patients, music enhances well-being, quality of life, and coping. Finally, in older adults, music and singing improve morale and reduce the risk of depression. 

Related Conferences and Events

Call For Abstracts:

The Joint Congress of the International Association for Music & Medicine and the International Society for Arts and Medicine will be held in Berlin, Germany, September 18-21, 2024. Abstracts are now being accepted for papers (10 min plus 5 min discussion) and poster presentations (3 minutes) until February 15th at

You are invited to submit an abstract of original research, clinical methodologies, white papers, educational/training models, collaborative ventures, and innovative technologies for in-person or online presentation. Please note that the overall scope of the congress will cover the following five main areas:

  • Therapeutic Outcomes of the Arts
  • Neurosciences, Cognition, and the Arts
  • Innovations at the Intersection of Arts, Medicine, Health, and Technology
  • Music and Arts-based Interventions in Medical and Health Contexts
  • Artistic Expression and Cultural Perspectives in Healthcare and Community

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

Click here for additional upcoming events!

Watch Sound Health Network events here.

Job Opportunities in Music and Health

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

Postdoctoral Scholar, Psychology, College of Liberal Arts

The Auditory Cognitive Development Lab in the department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at University of Nevada Las Vegas is offering a postdoctoral fellowship position for the Development of misophonia and other auditory affective experiences in children and adolescents project, sponsored by a grant from the Misophonia Research Fund. The position is for 2 years starting March 2024 or shortly after. The position emphasizes an apprenticeship model where the postdoctoral fellow will work collaboratively and closely with three faculty mentors who have expertise in developmental science, cognitive neuroscience, and clinical psychology. The position requires a Ph.D. from a regionally accredited college or university in a related discipline (Psychology, Neuroscience, etc.). For assistance with the application process, please contact UNLV Human Resources at (702) 895-3504 or More information can be found here.


Brains & Behavior Fellowship in Music Education

The Music Cognition and Creativity Lab at Georgia State University in Atlanta is accepting applications for a Brains & Behavior Fellowship in conjunction with graduate study toward a PhD in Teaching and Learning/Music Education. The successful candidate will have prior teaching experience in K-12 settings and an interest in using neuroscientific methods to investigate music learning. The candidate will ideally have some experience using EEG and/or fMRI analysis techniques.

Their lab studies creative music activities and related therapeutic applications. We collaborate with faculty and labs in psychology, neuroscience, mathematics, computer science, occupational therapy, and physics including several members of the TReNDS Center. For more information, please contact Dr. Norgaard at

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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