Scientific Breakthrough in Music and Cancer Research

April 15, 2019

Scientific Breakthrough in Music and Cancer Research


En Español

Can the brain really respond to music as if it were medicine?  Neuroscientists at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City have used musical compositions by Dr. Joseph Michael Levry to reduce pain in children being treated for a rare form of cancer. These findings were published in the Journal of Pediatric Oncology and Hematology1 and an additional grant has been issued for continued study.

In the early summer of 2013 a group of children were undergoing treatment for neuroblastoma, a very rare type of cancerous tumor that affects fetal nerve cells including the adrenal glands and lymphatic nervous system. These children needed to receive high doses of pain medication in an attempt to relieve the pain associated with their life-saving treatment. Even at the maximum allowed dose, however, pain is still an undesirable side-effect.


Neuroscientist Dr. Sonia Sequeira and Dr. Mahuidin Ahmed developed a unique protocol to address this side-effect that consisted of listening to and rhythmically vocalizing mantric sounds while meditating with certain musical compositions. For their research they chose to test music composed by Dr. Joseph Michael Levry. The results were nothing short of astounding. Working with these musical compositions significantly reduced the children’s pain, resulting in a 14% reduction of administered pain medication after just a single session.

Dr. Ahmed shared these findings on sound meditation: “My colleague Dr. Sonia Sequeira and I have shown that the sound meditation found in Naam can be used to provide acute pain relief in children undergoing experimental cancer treatments and to significantly reduce the need for pain medication. With these encouraging results, we now have a grant from the hospital to conduct a first of its kind randomized controlled trial to see how these same techniques can affect pain, anxiety and outcome for pediatric patients undergoing major surgeries as part of their cancer care.”

The study shows that the brain can respond to the right type of music as if it were medicine. By design, in these compositions, Dr. Levry incorporated layers of certain vowel sounds and melodic elements that correspond to energetic frequencies. These frequencies were specifically chosen for their individual healing qualities and the music is intricately structured according to mathematically defined tones and meter that directly supports the healing process.

Two of the therapeutic pieces of music from the study were also used during various Global Gatherings for Peace and Healing led by Dr. Levry, including the 2017 event which united over 318,000 people, both in person and online. 

Without question, medical, mathematical and scientific research shows that this combination of music, vowel sounds and tones has a tremendous healing impact upon the listener. This groundbreaking research transforms hope into healing, offering us a glimpse into a future where we will be able to administer musical remedies just as we prescribe medicine today.

For those who would like to know more about the specific healing music tracks used in the Memorial Sloan Kettering Study please click here. For easy access, these tracks have been made available on a Therapeutic Music for Meditation album so you can share and experience their healing benefits.

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