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Music as Medicine: The Science and Clinical Practice

Date: December 14, 2023 to December 15, 2023


Event Description

The workshop “Music as Medicine: The Science and Clinical Practice,” which took place December 14–15, 2023, aimed to highlight accomplishments from the last 6 years in advancing scientific research on music and health, develop a blueprint for the next phase of research, and further build the research community. 

The workshop was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and jointly organized by NIH, the NEA, the Renée Fleming Foundation, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

The workshop was co-chaired 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.   

There were six scientific sessions during the 2-day workshop:

  1. Research on the Science of Music
  2. Research on Music Therapy and Music Medicine
  3. Research on Music Education and Health
  4. Future Research Directions
  5. Networks and Capacity-Building of an Integrative Health Research Community
  6. Integration of Music-Based Interventions Into Health Care Systems

Each session featured 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. 

Watch the event:

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Friday, December 15, 2023


All times are Eastern Time

Day OneWhat Has the Field Accomplished?

9:00–9:10 a.m. | Opening Remarks

9:10–9:40 a.m. | Keynote

  • Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Former NIH Director
    NIH’s Music and Health Research—What Have We Accomplished So Far?

9:40–9:45 a.m. | Special Remarks

  • Bruce Tromberg, Ph.D., National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) Director

9:45 a.m.–noon | Session One: Research on the Science of Music


  • Robert Riddle, Ph.D. (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke [NINDS])  
  • David Leitman, Ph.D. (National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH]) 
  • Daniel Levitin, Ph.D. (Minerva University/McGill University) 

Illustrative Performance 

  • Shelly Berg, M.M. (University of Miami School of Music)


  • Daniel Levitin, Ph.D. (Minerva University/McGill University)
    Medicine’s Melodies: Music, the Brain, Health, and Wellness
  • Mimi Kao, Ph.D. (Tufts University)
    Investigating Auditory-Motor Interactions During Rhythm Perception in a Small Animal Model
  • Malinda McPherson, Ph.D. (University of California, San Diego) 
    Diversity in Pitch Perception
  • Amy Belfi, Ph.D. (Missouri University of Science and Technology)
    Music Cognition, Memory, and Aesthetics
  • Edward Chang, M.D. (University of California, San Francisco [UCSF]) 
    Encoding of Melody in the Human Auditory Cortex


  • Victor Wooten (Bela Fleck and the Flecktones)
    The Spirit of Music
  • Elizabeth Margulis, Ph.D. (Princeton University) 
    The Psychology of Music 
  • Petr Janata, Ph.D. (University of California, Davis) 
    Linking the Structure of Music to the Structure of Memories
  • Frank Russo, Ph.D. (Toronto Metropolitan University) 
    Motor Synchrony in Music-Based Interventions
  • Tonya Bergeson, Ph.D. (Butler University/Indiana University School of Medicine)
    Music Listening on Affective Domain Across the Lifespan
  • Vern Falby, Ph.D. (Emeritus, Johns Hopkins University Peabody Conservatory of Music)
    Emotional Cues in Music Composition

Questions and Answers and General Discussion

Noon–1:00 p.m. | Lunch Break

1:00–1:05 p.m. | Special Remarks

1:05–3:05 p.m. | Session Two: Research on Music Therapy and Music Medicine


  • Lisa Onken, Ph.D. (National Institute on Aging [NIA]) 
  • Maria Nurminskaya, Ph.D. (Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development [NICHD]) 
  • Marisol Norris, Ph.D. (Drexel University)

Illustrative Performance


  • Marisol Norris, Ph.D., MT-BC (Drexel University) 
    Overview on Music Therapy and Music Medicine
  • Teresa Lesiuk, Ph.D. (University of Miami)
    eHealth Supported Mindfulness-Based Music Therapy Intervention for Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplant Patients
  • Joanne Loewy, D.A., L.C.A.T., MT-BC (Mount Sinai Health System)
    Culturally Based Live Music Intervention on Metabolites and Metabolic Pathways, Chronic Stress, and the Risk of Preterm Birth in Black Women
  • Gammon Earhart, Ph.D., P.T. (Washington University in St. Louis)
    Sing for Your Saunter: Enhancing Walking for People With Parkinson’s Using Self-Generated Rhythmic Cues
  • Carlene Brown, Ph.D., MT-BC (Seattle Pacific University)
    The Body Tambura as a Music-Based Treatment for Chronic Pain


  • Melita Belgrave, Ph.D., MT-BC (Arizona State University)
    Integrative Music-Based Community Approaches in Aging Populations
  • Concetta “Connie” Tomaino, D.A. (Institute for Music and Neurologic Function) 
    Neurologic Rehabilitation
  • Michael Stanley, M.D. (Brigham and Women’s Hospital)
    Neurology and Music Therapy—The Role of Clinical Observations in Music Therapy Research
  • Maria Gonsalves Schimpf, M.A., MT-BC (Denver Health RESTORE)
    Psychodynamic and Analytical Approaches of Music-Based Interventions for Trauma and Resilience in Medical Settings
  • Panagis Galiatsatos, M.D. (Johns Hopkins University)
    Music-Based Interventions on Pulmonary Function
  • Lori Gooding, Ph.D., MT-BC (Florida State University)
    American Music Therapy Association (AMTA)

Questions and Answers and General Discussion

3:05-3:20 p.m. | Break

3:20-3:25 p.m. | Special Remarks

  • Theresa Cruz, Ph.D., NICHD/National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR) Director

3:25-5:25 p.m. | Session Three: Research on Music Education and Health


  • Sunil Iyengar, B.A. (NEA)  
  • Dana Schloesser, Ph.D. (NIH/Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research [OBSSR]) 
  • Anthony Brandt, Ph.D. (Rice University)

Illustrative Performance


  • Miriam Lense, Ph.D. (Vanderbilt University Medical Center)
    Social Development in Early Childhood
  • Steven Holochwost, Ph.D. (Lehman College and City University of New York)
    School Readiness and Early School Success
  • Assal Habibi, Ph.D. (University of Southern California) 
    Self-Regulation and Executive Functioning in Childhood
  • John Iversen, Ph.D. (McMaster University)
    Child and Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development 
  • Jennifer Bugos, Ph.D. (University of South Florida)
    Music Education on Cognitive Abilities in Older Adults


  • Indre Viskontas, Ph.D. (Sound Health Network)
    Beyond the Mozart Effect: How Music Can Impact Education
  • Thalia Goldstein, Ph.D. (George Mason University)
    Music Across Educational Contexts: Social and Emotional Outcomes
  • Maud Hickey, Ph.D. (Northwestern University, emeritus)
    Arts and Music Programs for Education in Detention Centers (AMPED)
  • Tarrell Davis, M.Ed. (Settlement Music School)
    Community Impact—“Kaleidoscope” Head Start Preschool Program
  • Victor Minces, Ph.D. (University of California, San Diego)
    Playing Together. Gamelan Project and Sound Exploration
  • Kenneth Elpus, Ph.D. (University of Maryland)
    Music in Secondary Schools: Access, Uptake, and Achievement

Questions and Answers and General Discussion

5:25–5:30 p.m. | Day One Closing Remarks

  • Julie Gerberding, M.D., M.P.H., Foundation for the NIH (FNIH) Chief Executive Officer

Day Two — The Future of the Sound Health Initiative

8:30–8:40 a.m. | Opening Remarks

8:40–9:10 a.m. | Keynote

  • Renée Fleming, M.M., Artistic Advisor, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts 
    Looking Forward—Arts and Health in Science and Society

9:10–9:15 a.m. | Special Remarks

  • Amy Adams, Ph.D., NINDS Acting Deputy Director 

9:15–11:30 a.m. | Session Four: Future Research Directions 


  • Wen Chen, M.MSc., Ph.D. (NCCIH) 
  • Robert Finkelstein, Ph.D. (NINDS)
  • Theodore Zanto, Ph.D. (UCSF) 

Illustrative Performance


  • Yuanyuan (Kevin) Liu, Ph.D. (National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research [NIDCR]/NCCIH) 
    Sound Induces Analgesia Through Corticothalamic Circuits
  • Reyna Gordon, Ph.D. (Vanderbilt University)
    Genomic Influences on Sensorimotor Synchronization and New Links With Health
  • Theodore Zanto, Ph.D. (UCSF) 
    Mechanisms of Cognitive Change Following Digital Rhythm Training
  • Jacquelyn Kulinski, M.D. (Medical College of Wisconsin) 
    Applied Research: Singing for Cardiovascular Health
  • Christina Hugenschmidt, Ph.D. (Wake Forest University) 
    Understanding the Mechanisms of Dance for Brain/Body Wellness in Aging


  • Maria Geffen, Ph.D. (University of Pennsylvania) 
    Understanding the Role of Inhibition in Pattern Perception
  • Shihab Shamma, Ph.D. (University of Maryland, College Park) 
    Encoding and Decoding Music Perception
  • Lee Lindquist, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A. (Northwestern University)
    Improvise To Improve Aging Outcomes
  • Tod Machover, M.M. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology [MIT] Media Lab)
    New Technologies for Music Creation, Performance, and Participation
  • Luana Colloca, M.D., Ph.D. (University of Maryland, Baltimore)
    Virtual Reality, Music, and Pain
  • Juliet King, Ph.D.(c), ATR-BC, LPC, LMHC (The George Washington University)
    Advancing Research: Neuroaesthetics and Creative Arts Therapies

Questions and Answers and General Discussion

11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. | Lunch Break

12:30–2:30 p.m. | Session Five: Networks and Capacity Building of an Integrative Health Research Community 


  • Laura Thomas, Ph.D. (NIMH)
  • Caroline Sferrazza, M.S. (NIA) 
  • Susan Magsamen, M.A.S. (Johns Hopkins University)


  • Charles Limb, M.D. (UCSF)
    Sound Health Network: A New Opportunity for Collaboration
  • Joke Bradt, Ph.D., MT-BC (Drexel University)
    Music4Pain Network
  • Jeffrey Dusek, Ph.D. (Case Western Reserve University)
    Effective Network to advance Scientific Evidence related to Mechanisms of Music-Based Interventions for Pain and Support CoLlaborative Efforts (ENSEMBLE)
  • Debra Burns, Ph.D. (Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis)
    Novel Technologies To Explore Mechanisms and Optimize Music-Based Intervention Pain Research
  • Julene Johnson, Ph.D., B.M. (UCSF)
    Research Network To Accelerate Mechanistic Studies of Music for Dementia (RNMusD)


  • AZA Allsop, M.D., Ph.D. (Yale University, Howard University)
    Music, Neuroscience, and Psychiatry
  • Christopher Bailey, M.L.I.S. (World Health Organization) 
    Connecting With the World Health Organization
  • Nick Skinner, B.Mus. (Baltimore Symphony Orchestra) 
    Music Education in Local School Communities and Across the Country
  • Lora Robinson, M.M.T., MT-BC (Howard University)
    Music Therapy Program at Howard University
  • Kristin Sakoda, J.D. (Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture)
    Building Cross-Sector Collaboration for Arts and Health Throughout Los Angeles County 
  • Ruth Katz, J.D., M.P.H. (Aspen Institute) 
    Health Policy Perspectives for Music and Other Arts-Based Interventions 

Questions and Answers and General Discussion

Illustrative Performance

  • Fred Johnson (David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts)

2:30–2:45 p.m. | Special Remarks

  • Debara Tucci, M.D., M.S., M.B.A., National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) Director
  • Rick Woychik, Ph.D., National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Director
  • Nora Volkow, M.D., National Institute on Drug Abuse Director 

2:45–3:00 p.m. | Break

3:00–5:00 p.m. | Session Six: Integration of Music-Based Interventions Into Health Care Systems


Illustrative Performance


  • Emmeline Edwards, Ph.D. (NCCIH)
    The NIH Toolkit for Music-Based Interventions: A Path to Strengthening Evidence-Based Research
  • Sheri Robb, Ph.D., MT-BC (Indiana University) 
    Reporting Guidelines for Music-Based Interventions: Improving Quality and Consistency
  • Richard Gershon, Ph.D. (Northwestern University)
    Lessons Learned From Other Tools Developed by NIH
  • Leslie Katzel, M.D., Ph.D. (University of Maryland School of Medicine and Baltimore Geriatrics Research Education and Clinical Center)
    Integration of a Behavioral Intervention Into the Veterans Health Administration Health Care System
  • David Chambers, Ph.D. (National Cancer Institute)
    A Brief Introduction to Dissemination and Implementation Research for Music-Based Interventions


  • Debora Kuchka-Craig, M.H.A., F.H.F.M.A. (MedStar Health)
    Payer/Provider’s Perspectives
  • Kimberly Sena Moore, Ph.D., MT-BC (Florida Gulf Coast University) 
    Public Advocate Perspectives
  • Judy Simpson, MT-BC (American Music Therapy Association)
    Practitioner Perspectives
  • Sarah Lock, J.D. (AARP)
    Policy Perspectives
  • Wendy Weber, N.D., Ph.D., M.P.H. (NCCIH)
    Designing Trials To Be Informative to Payers Including Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
  • Jill Sonke, Ph.D. (University of Florida)
    Social Prescribing Perspectives

Questions and Answers and General Discussion

5:00–5:45 p.m. | Day Two Closing Session 


  • Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Former NIH Director
  • Renée Fleming, M.M., Artistic Advisor, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts 

Workshop Co-Chairs: Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., and Renée Fleming, M.M.

Workshop Planning Committee Members

  • Wen Chen, M.MSc., Ph.D. (NCCIH)  
  • Emmeline Edwards, Ph.D. (NCCIH)
  • Kelly Bernhardt, Ph.D. (NCCIH) 
  • Lisa Onken, Ph.D. (NIA)   
  • Coryse St. Hillaire-Clarke, Ph.D. (NIA)
  • Caroline Sferrazza, M.S. (NIA)   
  • Brandy Beverly, Ph.D. (NIEHS)
  • David Leitman, Ph.D. (NIMH)   
  • Laura Thomas, Ph.D. (NIMH)  
  • Catherine Schwepe, Ph.D. (NCI)  
  • Robert Riddle, Ph.D. (NINDS)   
  • Abhi Subedi, Ph.D. (NINDS)
  • Maripierre Surpris, Ph.D. (NINDS) 
  • Dana Schloesser, Ph.D. (OBSSR)   
  • Maria Nurminskaya, Ph.D. (NICHD/NCMRR)
  • Changhai Cui, Ph.D. (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism [NIAAA])
  • Ben Xu, Ph.D. (NIAAA) 
  • Sunil Iyengar, B.A. (NEA)  
  • Chason Goldschmitz, M.M. (Renée Fleming Foundation)

Workshop Emcee

  • Catherine Law (NCCIH)

Logistics Team

  • NIH Program Staff: Wen Chen, Kelly Bernhardt, Caroline Sferrazza (NIA), Maripierre Surpris (NINDS)
  • NCCIH Communications Staff: Catherine Law, Irene Liu, Bryan Ewsichek, Aileen Amador, Anita McRae Williams
  • NCCIH Administrative Staff: Annice Lawrence, Sandy Putsky, Ann Ellis
  • ICF Staff: Sophia Zanakos, Katherine Fuller, Megan Lyons, Ashley Cornett
  • NIH VideoCast Team: Joy Jackson Farra, Joel Gascot, Michael Burnham

Special thanks to

  • Strathmore Music Center
  • Baltimore Symphony Orchestra


  • National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
  • National Endowment for the Arts
  • National Institute on Aging
  • Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research
  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
  • National Institute of Mental Health
  • National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
  • National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
  • Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development