Music and Medicine: being in the moment

Tim Dornan, Martina Kelly

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This article reviews the relationship between music and medicine, informed by our own personal experiences, and by leading scholars who have opened up music and medicine for critical reflection. Performing music, we suggest, is a state of being, in the moment, with fellow musicians and audience members. This establishes bidirectional communication, which can transport both parties to better places. Medicine is, likewise, an act of being with patients, whether or not performing a technical act (a clinical procedure, for example) is part of the interaction. Subjective, non-verbal, dimensions of the interaction engage both parties’ senses. Good doctors, like good musicians, tune in to patients at a personal level. The limited research that has examined the relationship between music and medicine shows that music can help students develop auditory skills. Of potentially greater interest is the existential contribution music could make to medical education. We suggest that this could help students and doctors reflect on their experiences of being in the world, and how shared experience can relieve suffering.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 05 Sep 2018


  • Music
  • Health
  • Humanities
  • Mindfulness

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