Music Therapy in the Movies

The following is a tribute to my TOP 3 favorite films which demonstrate music’s amazing power. If you have seen these movies you may have not realized that these “musical” scenes actually depict the true abilities of music on our brains. The first time I saw these movies, immediately I thought to myself “what a great testimony to the power of music”. Of the three that I have chosen to share, I recommend “The Music Never Stopped” as a MUST SEE. In addition to being simply a wonderful movie  with a heart-warming true story, this movie explains the power of music and depicts a working music therapist, which is so rarely witnessed in films. And now for the countdown…

3.It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2011)

This film refers to music’s effect on socialization and expression. The movie takes place in a psychiatric ward of a hospital, where music therapists often work. There is a scene in the movie where the patients are gathered for “musical exploration”. During this time the patients play instruments together and sing songs. The newest patient is shy and does not want to participate at first…however, the group’s encouragement changes his mind and he complies. The scene continues with a group performance of “Under Pressure” where the patient expresses his frustrations with the stressors in his life while having fun and making music with his fellow group members. Often times music is the key to aiding in self expression. One of my favorite quotes sums up this phenomena beautifully, “Music has the ability to express that which cannot be said”. All too many times I have witnessed a reluctant patient begin to open up over the course of one music therapy session. Music is non-invasive, it is fun and it is social. People come together and bond during musical experiences because of the emotions that are shared in the process.



Click here to watch the music scene!




2.The Note Book (2004)

This movie has two references to music and memory. The first scene is when the older Allie is overheard playing a lovely Chopin piece on the piano. Though she is suffering from dementia, her motor memory is still intact and she is able to perform the piece. This is often demonstrated in people with dementia. Music is so closely related to our memories that songs we once learned to perform many years earlier, are surprisingly easy to access. A second reference is the scene where Noah plays the recording of “I’ll Be Seeing” you while they are having dinner. This song was referred to as “their song”. Allie has a moment where she remembers and realizes that she and her husband are the characters in the story and while the music is playing in the background there is a touching moment of reconnection. Music can access underlying memories as often times a particular song is associated with special times in our lives. These songs of our past often have the ability to aid the patient with dementia in remembering past events and loved ones.

1.The Music Never Stopped (2011)

This movie is hands down one of my favorite movies of all time. Music therapy is recognized and portrayed very well in this film. Based off of the case study “The Last Hippie” by Dr. Oliver Sacks, this movie reflects the amazing true story of a father and son who are brought back together by sharing music. In addition to attesting the powers of music to build relationships, music’s effect on the brain is also shared throughout the movie. The son is diagnosed with a brain tumor which destroys his ability to create and store new memories. This leaves him with a constant struggle to distinguish the past, present and future. His lack of ability to communicate is finally reached though working with a music therapist. By listening to his favorite bands from the past, he is able to have conversations and express himself once more. Music has amazing effects on the brain and has been used in so many neurological rehabilitation situations rather it be a brain injury or stroke.  Music is a WHOLE BRAIN process which means that both hemispheres of your brain are activated when you participate in a musical activity. When simply talking, only one half of your brain is activated, and while listening, the other. Music aids in bypassing these blockages that can occur from brain damage and can help create new pathways to reconnect with speech and communication. I STRONGLY encourage every one that I meet to see this movie. Start with the trailer, and you will want to see more!

Click here to watch the trailer!


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One Response to Music Therapy in the Movies

  1. I truly appreciate your blog post! This reminds me of a few movies I need to see again, and again, and again! Thanks!


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