The 4 Elements of Music Medicine: A Guide to Personal Tuning

(by Christine Stevens)

“Music—when approached through the lens of empowerment, simplicity, creativity, and calm—can provide the support we need in life’s challenging moments and become part of our daily routine for spirituality and health.” Joan Borysenko, PhD


This article first appeared in Watkins’ Mind Body Spirit #35, Autumn 2013

[dropcap]H[/dropcap]ave you ever gotten goose bumps from a piece of music, or been flooded with memories when you heard a special song?

Yes? Then you already know music can change your mood, uplift your spirits, release emotions, and draw you to the Divine. We resonate with music because we are all instruments. But, like any musical instrument, we can get out of tune. Music Medicine helps you tune yourself and brings harmony, creativity, joy, and well-being into your life.

Christine Stevens

A Guide to Personal Tuning

Just as there are four seasons in the year, four elements in nature, and four directions in the medicine wheel, music also has four elements.  Each element has a specific correlation to body, mind, heart, and soul.  These correlations are based on extensive scientific studies, spiritual teachings, and my direct experience with the music of ceremonies and indigenous cultures worldwide.

As you read the four elements of music medicine, consider where you most need personal tuning.  Try the practices and conscious listening exercises that tune you in body, mind, heart, and soul.

Tune Your Body

Rhythm is the medicine for the body.  Rhythm drives the beat, calling your body to dance, the same unified beat that draws you to a drum circle.  Drumming gets you into your body.  It helps when you’re stuck.  It gets you moving!

Practice Rhythm.  Move to your favorite rhythmic groove.  Choose your own music or use my recommended rhythm playlist, available at www.soundstrue.com/musicmedicine.  First, hold completely still. Then, let the rhythm grab you where you need it most.  Move freely to the music.  Finally, come back to stillness and breathe.  Feel the rhythm of life awakened in your cells.

MUSIC MEDICINE: The Science and Spirit of Healing Yourself with Sound by Christine Stevens, published by Sounds True, paperback & eBook (197 pages).

Sing Your Heart Song

Melody is the medicine for the heart.  It unveils the emotions that long to be expressed.  In music, melody is composed of notes from a scale meant to evoke emotions. Melody is the song of a flute or cello that opens and expands our hearts.  It is the repeated phrase in a song that you find yourself whistling.

Practice melody. Warm up your voice and awaken your heart with the sound “Ahhhh.” Place your hands on your heart. Gently tone the vowel “Ahh” on a comfortable note.  Keep singing that note.  Add more notes and create a personalized heart song.

Melody empowers your heart. Choose your power song, a song whose lyrics speak to your heart.  Play it daily and sing along. Celebrate your individuality.

Harmonize Your Soul

Harmony is medicine for the soul.  In music, harmony is the relationship between the notes; the chords.  Harmony thrives with musicians in a band or ensemble.  Think about the duets and quartets of your life, the way connection and belonging soothes your soul.

Create a duet with Nature.  Choose a favorite soundscape in Nature, a stream, ocean, or the wind in the trees.  See if you can identify the music.  Then join it, echo what you hear with your voice, drum, or other instrument.  Expand your sound to complement what you hear.

Practice harmony.  Join a choir or drum circle. Experience the power of group music making that brings scientific documented improvements to your quality of life.

Quiet Your Mind

Silence is medicine for the mind.  In music, silence is the space between the notes, the place where music breathes.  Wind chimes and singing bowls are placed in temples around the world to call the mind into silence.  The musical term for silence is a “rest”. What a great reminder for us to take breaks between the notes of our life’s song.  Most of us are sleep-deprived and need to learn to rest!

Practice silence. Play a singing bowl. Listen to the single tone fade into silence. Travel with the sound. Come to stillness.  Silence is also found in music that has no defined rhythm. Listen to flutes and breath instruments that leave space between the notes.  After listening, continue to sit still and breathe in the quiet space before the next piece of music, or activity of your day.



“Music Medicine brings home to our hearts the truth that music is an organic medicine. Christine Stevens reveals how the intricate beauty of harmony, rhythm, and song course through our veins, uniting us with the cosmic music of the universe.”
Michael Bernard Beckwith

“Each of Christine’s lessons has helped me to become a musical instrument and a singer of my own song.”
Bernie Siegel, MD


Christine Stevens, MSW, MT-BC, is the founder of UpBeat Drum Circles, author of Music Medicine, the Science and Spirit of Healing Yourself with Sound and The Healing Drum Kit. Her You Tube Channel offers music for healthy living. www.youtube.com/user/ubdrumcircles
Learn more at www.ubdrumcircles.com & Listen to Music Medicine playlists at www.soundstrue.com/musicmedicine

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