Music on Prescription: The Role of Music in the Well-Being of Patients in Hospitals

Learning Objective
This course provides an introduction into the potential role of music and music-making for patients in hospitals. We will provide practical tools as well as a theoretical background on working in a creative way with patients young and old suffering long-term illness. The course aims to:

  • Explore the potential of music as a healing tool that can be used besides regular treatments;
  • Extend or develop the abilities of musicians and music teachers needed to work in a creative way in a hospital setting;
  • To reflect in a broader context on music, health and wellbeing.

Course Content
The relationship between music and health is more and more a pressing issue in our society.  Research shows that music can positively affect the wellbeing of patients in hospitals. The multifaceted experience of music can contribute to stress reduction, pain relief, as well a general improvement of the mental and physical state of patients (Preti & Welch, 2004). In this master elective we will focus on different ways of bringing music into the hospital: as a form music education, as therapy, and as a tiny music concert (‘Concert at the Bedside’). Approaches range from passive listening to creative music-making with patients in the hospital. The course consists of weekly lectures as well as an internship.  Experienced professionals, such as Muziekids, will be invited as guest lecturers . Students in this master elective will also visit a hospital and make music for and with patients. We believe that this experience opens up a broader perspective on music and musicianship. We hope to inspire master students from all departments in the role of music in relation to wellbeing, health and illness. 

Course Details

teachers Julia Bitter and Iris van Doggenaar
term January-April 2023
method of instruction Lectures, critical discussion and reflective engagement will form the basis of the sessions. Besides the weekly meetings, there will also be a practical component. Students will do a short internship with Muziekids: they thus receive hands-on experience in making music for and with patients.
readings Bitter, J., Music intervention for care and wellbeing. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University of the Arts, 2021.
  Lee, F., If Disney Ran Your Hospital: 9 1/2 Things You Would Do Differently. Salt Lake City: Abe Books, 2004.
  Preti, C., & Welch, G. F., ‘Music in a hospital setting: A multifaceted experience’. British Journal of Music Education 21/3 (2013), pp. 329–345
  Ragilo, A., & Oasi, O. (2015). Music and health: what interventions for what results? Frontiers in Psychology 6/230.
assessment Reflection report in which you also reflect on your personal-professional experience of making music in hospitals. In addition, you will write music (composition/arranging) for a specific patient group in the hospitals.
participation Optional for all master students. There are limited places (8-10 participants), since we want to give all the students the opportunity to do a short internship in the hospital.
credits 5
related electivesMoving and Musicking with the Elderly
  Music for an Inclusive Society