Hear two songs and call me in the morning: Can music cure illnesses?

Music medicine man: Jazz guitarist Stanley Jordan is a big proponent of the medicinal effects of music in helping cure people of illnesses.
Music medicine man: Jazz guitarist Stanley Jordan is a big proponent of the medicinal effects of music in helping cure people of illnesses.Courtesy Official Stanley Jordan website
Several years ago I encountered a wonderful situation. I was at the Wabasha Street Caves club here in St. Paul to see a big band featuring many veteran musicians perform for a group of swing dancers made up mostly of college students.

Charles, the leader of the band was well into his 80s and needed a walker to get across the dance floor before the show started. Other band members helped him take his seat smack dab in the middle of the saxophone section, where he played alto sax and also led the band.

Several songs into the set, it was Charles’ time for a solo. Caught up in the spirit of the music, he bounced up from his chair unassisted, wailed on his horn and was groovin’ like the hip cat he’s always been for decades. Needing a walker or assistance was the last thing his body needed at that time.

It was a truly remarkable moment and fueled my suspicions that music holds medicinal properties we don’t fully understand.

My belief was reinforced today after coming across this article about jazz guitarist Stanley Jordan. He thinks the same way I do.

After being sick with the flu, he spent and entire day surrounded by song and recovered nearly instantly, he related. And now he’s studying the theory academically to see how music can intentionally be used to help people get over physical ailments.

"In five to 10 years, music therapy is going to be a household term," Jordan is quoted in the USA Today article. "I say that because it's so holistic and versatile. It addresses every part of the body in some way or another."

In a nutshell, Jordan feels that there are four distinct dimensions to music’s healing power: physical, mental, emotionally and spiritual healing. Want to learn more? Here’s a link to his website where you can learn more about his thoughts on music therapy.

So what do you think? Are there untapped healing powers in music? Have you experienced this effect yourself? What types of music do you find especially rejuvenating? Share your thoughts here with other Buzz readers.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Music Therapist's picture

Music can definitely cure illness - it just depends on the illness and how receptive the person is to the idea. But I think science has proven that music really can cure illness.

posted on Fri, 10/03/2008 - 10:25am
DO's picture
DO says:

Also don't underestimate the power of an old performer getting on stage. Years ago when my kids were little (1,5,7) we went to the State Fair and walked by where they demonstrate gadgets in the Grandstand Buidling. We stopped and waited for the "performance". A little, stooped over man who looked about 80 shuffled up onto the stage and was magiclly transformed into an energetic pitchman. It's the one where they put all sorts of vegetables (beets, onions, etc.) into a blender and make you wait for them to turn it on and produce a drink that tastes surprisingly good. Probably the most exciting thing the kids saw all day! After he finished, he shuffled off the stage and sat down to rest up for the next show, once again looking his age.

posted on Fri, 10/03/2008 - 1:27pm

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <h3> <h4> <em> <i> <strong> <b> <span> <ul> <ol> <li> <blockquote> <object> <embed> <param> <sub> <sup>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • You may embed videos from the following providers vimeo, youtube. Just add the video URL to your textarea in the place where you would like the video to appear, i.e.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Images can be added to this post.

More information about formatting options