Over the past few weeks, we’ve shared what researchers and PSO Violist Penny Brill have to say about finding pain relief through music. As mentioned in previous posts, finding the appropriate music to use for pain management depends on your circumstances and personal taste. However, if you would like to listen to music to alleviate your pain, it is important to always have a playlist ready for the moment pain strikes. If you want some inspiration before you start designing your playlist, I’ve got some for you today. I asked several local music therapists to share their favorite pieces of classical music for pain management. Read on to hear their suggestions.
Kory Antonacci, music therapist at several UPMC hospitals and the Woodlands Foundation, recommends Pachelbel’s Canon in D, which she frequently plays while patients engage in relaxation exercises. She explains:
In using Canon in D and improvising, patients are given something comforting through the familiar progression, but the variations provide patients with a focal point and something different to actively listen for. This can be very helpful for patients who are experiencing pain due to medical complications. I once used this sequence with a patient experiencing discomfort and pain while waiting for medication (and due to strict time constraints as to when the medication could be given, they had another hour to wait), and I implemented slow, deep breathing to accompany the music on the guitar. Upon implementation of these interventions, the patient had a decreased perception of pain and was significantly more relaxed following the music therapy session.[i]
Music therapist Debbie Benkovitz, who works at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, finds the album Bedroom Adagios helpful for pain relief. She comments, “It is a very nice, general, relaxing CD . . . classical music with a steady, restful tempo, without much dissonance or tension,” and adds that it’s “easy to breathe with and relax the muscles.”[ii]
Ginger Dougherty, a music therapist from the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, says, “I like music that is rich in harmonies, that almost cradles you . . . When I don’t feel well I need to block out a lot of extraneous motion, sound, and complexity.”[iii] She also prefers music with low frequencies when coping with pain. In particular, she enjoys Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus and the piano album Perchance to Dream, which she used in the delivery room 23 years ago.
Listen to our Spotify playlist, Classical Music for Pain Management, to hear their selections. Don’t forget to share your favorite songs in the comments as well!
[i] Antonacci, Kory. “Re: Songs for Pain Management.” Message to the author. 6 May 2014. Email.
[ii] Benkovitz, Deborah. “Re: Songs for Pain Management.” Message to the author. 29 Apr. 2014. Email.
[iii] Dougherty, Virginia. “Re: Songs for Pain Management.” Message to the author. 5 May 2014. Email.