How Music Therapy Relieves Stress

download-14Happy Friday! Did you know that today is National Stress Awareness Day? Everyone has stress that comes in all shapes or forms. Stress can show up in getting a stain on your favorite shirt, maybe picking the kids up after practice that happen to end at the same time and are at opposite sides of town, running out of coffee or running out of chocolate at the peak of a craving.

Stress also comes in more devastating forms such as illness, money problems, work, a broken down car, and a boat load of other things that life likes to throw at us. It’s hard to get rid of stress. It’s in our daily lives. November 4th is the nationally recognized day of the year to step back and address your stress and take steps toward easing that stress, whatever it may be.

How do you normally relieve stress? Do you take a walk? Read a book? Go for a run? Do you use music?

Kate Beever, founder of Maine Music & Health studied music performance as an undergraduate at the University of Southern Maine, and then completed her masters in Music Psychotherapy at New York University, and is certified to practice Neurologic Music Therapy.

Music Therapy is not as commonly known as a health resource but Beever explains that music therapy is “an evidence-based healthcare field that uses music to address nonmusical goals. The work happens through the emotional human connection to music, through memories or feelings evoked by certain chord progressions; but it isn’t about perfecting a performance. Music is more of a tool.” 

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There is no doubt that music has strong emotional connections.  I know you can think of a specific song that connects you to a memory in your life, making you feel like that memory just happened. You can see the surroundings, smell the air and hear the voices of those that are now long gone. Music is wired in our brain as a tool like Beever explained. Music therapy uses these tools to help patients that have cancer, people with disabilities, help family dynamics, and to even relieve stress. 


To use specific examples, classical music can he used as a tool for pain relief and relaxation. Beever explained that “Guided imagery to classical music allows the brain to wander far away from a hospital setting, and breathing in time to music relaxes the nervous system by locking the brain into the tempo.” This form of therapy is called entrainment, which also works for patients with Parkinson’s because their gait can be guided with the tempo of the music that can be sped up or slowed down, the same works for immobile patients and heart rate. Our body is bound to a song’s tempo, like when you listen to music while you walk, you walk in step with the rhythm, unconsciously.


Music therapy can also be used to enhance social skills for people with development disabilities through percussion games and writing songs. Drumming helps explore themes of social sharing, self-confidence, communication, and friendship. In addition to improving skills and confidence in people with disabilities, drumming exercises also help teens in correction facilities because of creative freedom and expression. Another form of therapy can occur through musical improvision. This technique especially helps family dynamic, such as families going through a challenging time,”the music opens up a comfort zone that then allows for safe verbal processing of family dynamics – and the music can be played again while implementing changes in old habits,” explains Beever. 


So if you’re looking for a new way to relieve some stress today and in the future, consider banging on some drums, walking to the beat of your favorite song, or listening to classical music, in fact, we have a playlist for you to check out on Spotify!

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Music is a safe way to express feelings that may be too confusing to express in words. It can energize, uplift, calm and relax. It can teach academic skills or social practices. It creates a positive experience that may not exist without this modality. And everyone has the ability to benefit from music therapy! 

-Kate Beever, Music Therapist

Maine Music & Health has two locations, the main location in Portland, and a space in Saco, which was recently opened. If you’d like to contact Kate Beever or would like to seek music therapy, call 207.233.8734 or email at kate@mainemusicandhealth.com. 

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