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    Anne Taylor

    Written by Anne Taylor Member Global Listening Centre And CEO & founder of Scandic health.

    Patients push the call light and by the time the nurse arrives the patient might have forgotten the question. The unit is so loud, doors opening and closing, phones ringing, stretchers and carts are pushed down the hallway, people talking some loader than others, IV poles bumping into corners or over doorsteps. The patient and the nurse are not quite aware that’s it’s the noise that stresses them but they know something is not right and the communication between the patient and the nurse is crashed before it even started.

    But what can they do about it?

    Broad decibel-level guidelines include the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommended maximum noise levels of 40 dB (A) in hospitals, and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended maximum levels of 30 to 40 dB (A) in patients’ rooms at night. (1)

    Several studies have measured noise levels in different hospital units as high as 90 dB (a), which is equivalent to a chain saw going off next to your ear.

    The noise in hospitals and any healthcare setting disrupts the healing, the communication and ultimately the patient experience.

    Listening is the ability to accurately receive and interpret messages in the communication process. Listening is key to all effective communication. Without the ability to listen effectively, messages are easily misunderstood. (2)

    Listening is part of communication, lean in and make eye contact show the other person you have their attention. A few seconds might be all it takes for you to listen but it can feel like a lot more for the patient trying to tell their story or convey a message.

    When both the listener and the patient are stressed by the noise in the hospital the communication process is broken and it can lead to a chain reaction of miscommunications.

    When I was introduced to the evidence based MusiCure – music as medicineÒwhich originates from my native home of Denmark, it was at a very fragile time in my life where healing and recovery was my focus. I had few words to describe my feelings cause it was such chaos, MusiCure evoked healing feelings and planted calm seeds in my family.

    MusiCure – music as medicineÒ is evidence based and began as a unique collaboration between medicine & the arts in Copenhagen Denmark. There is lots of evidence about the healing effects of music; our heartbeat is a constant musical beat we carry with us all through life. The Danish composer Niels Eje created MusiCure from our life giving heart beat at 60-80 beats per minute, the compositions are genre less and universal with a mix of calming nature sounds and sound escapes to inspire the listener.

    Researchers found that the high elevations in regular classical music caused stress for sedated patients, it’s the ability to adjust sounds in the inner ear that’s decreased when sedated, medicated with pain medication or anti- anxiety medications and this crucial information is the basis for the neutral sounds in MusiCure to promote a calming mind and healing.

    A scientific research project in Gothenburg Sweden evaluated the effect of MusiCure on the first postop day following cardiac surgery and found a significant difference of 22% decrease in serum cortisol levels among one group who listened to MusiCure compared to the other group who listened to just the regular sounds of the unit. (3)

    22% decrease of the stress hormone Cortisol from listening to MusiCure!

    I once had a patient who used MusiCure in her recovery and her remarks has stuck with me ever since

    :” Listening to MusiCure in my room I notice the staff who enters my use a low calming tone of voice versus when I watch the news the staff speaks loud and its like they try to compete with the sound of the TV “.

    I never got to measure the sound level but I imagine going from 40 db. (a)To “chainsaw level” very fast would be a great visual of her remarks!

    Imagine rush hour traffic without a working stop sign! That’s how I picture a stressed mind that’s not able to find calmness.

    MusiCure is a stop sign, a place to stop and let the beat slow your breathing to the rhythm of the music, let your heart rate come down to a normal level and to create calmness in your mind. Listen to the music it speaks to you, the nature sounds takes you on a journey, it blocks out the “chainsaw” noise and the music speaks to other people around you and slowly traffic can start back up but with less rush. By listening to music you have just reduced the risk of “ traffic jams’.

    “Where words fail music speaks “

    By Hans Christian Andersen

    If we sit still and listen can music “ speak ” instead of words?

    Absolutely the answer is in the scientific evidence and I am here to tell you its crucial for healing to promote a calm mind.

    Sometimes words fail sometimes words can’t remove pain or sadness instead music can take the place of words.

    I dedicate this article to the late Danish Professor Lars Heslet who broke the glass ceiling by bringing the arts into the ICU at the Copenhagen University Hospital and together with composer Niels Eje began the journey of MusiCure – music as medicine.


    1. Reuters Health, 2011 edited by Elaine Lies

    The effect of music intervention in stress… by Nelson, U 2009/Heart & lung medical journal.


    Anne, I agree music can have great therapeutic effect in our lives. Your article reminds me how chaotic hospitals can be and the potential healing music has. I particularly took note of your statement, ” our heartbeat is a constant musical beat we carry with us all through life.” Have you heard of such rhythm evidenced at the cell level? Paul Byers, an anthropologist and a father of the field of conversational rhythms, was convinced of this phenomenon. He posited that interpersonal communication is at once mutually rhythmical and likely rooted in biological rhythm. I wonder if you could comment on this.

    Anne Taylor


    Ray, Thank you so much for your comment  I am not familiar with Paul Byers work but will look in to. The subject sounds intriguing. The constant beat could also be a kind of communication in utero as we know the unborn child is affected by the mothers mood. The biological rhythm is deeply rooted in our genes and I could wonder if music therapy in pregnancy could impact the genes slightly ! Thank you again for your comment, this is a subject thats needs more exploration.


    Hi Anne, Ray

    I am aware that this is an old post but as a fellow member of the music department I thought I’d say hi and add a little post.  I’ve recently done a small study on a composition called ‘META’ (so named for the study only).  I am a sound therapist and have developed music I call ‘Consciously Designed Music’ (CDM).  It is based on a music medicine approach as well as sound therapy and I believe is effective due to the positive health benefits created by inducing deep relaxation using specific sounds and music.  You may like to try the track?

    I look forward to working with you both, and to our sonic adventures!








    Well, Lyz, hi how are you. Glad to hear from you (and possibly also the start of the secret upgrade of the Forum.)  Congratulations on your new study. The idea of music therapy has much appeal. I look forward to checking META/CDM out. Thank you for the post.

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