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  • Arts Health ECRN

LEARN: Review of 'Music, Health and Wellbeing'

Review written by Caroline Roseman (PhD Student, University of Worcester, UK)

MacDonald, R., Kreutz, G., & Mitchell, L. (Eds.). (2013). Music, health, and wellbeing. Oxford University Press.


This comprehensive book examines in detail the role of music in relation to our health and wellbeing in many different contexts. Every conceivable angle of music is covered from neurology to music therapy. It is not necessarily a book to read from cover to cover but being well organised into 5 sections referencing different contexts is quick and easy.

The list of authors and their institutions (provided at the front of the book) is international, comprehensive and impressive, as well as all studies referenced within the text being listed in an author index at the back of the book. There is also a comprehensive index of topics. All these additions make the book very user friendly and provides a wide range of references which can be drawn upon.

Thanks to the wide variety of authors and disciplines it is a balanced and fascinating book, not only answering many questions but stimulating and pointing the way forward for further research. Both stimulating and informative, this book is a great reference source for anyone interested in what music can bring to our health and wellbeing.

What are the key topics covered?

Section 1: Setting the Scene consists of 4 chapters giving an overview of music’s role in health and wellbeing. The authors introduce music and why it is important and then go on to cover the biological, cultural and forms of music interventions giving the reader a sound grounding in what the book hopes to achieve.

Section 2: Community Music and Public Health covers music in many forms from singing to dancing and then explores social models for research and practice.

Section 3: Music as Therapy and Health Promotion examines (amongst others) neurology, pain, chronic illness and whether music is helpful or harmful in these contexts.

Section 4: Educational Contexts investigates autism and other cognitive impairments, the Mozart effect, intellectual development and lifelong development.

Finally, section 5 covers Everyday Uses of music, the most accessible part of the book to the lay-reader.

What disciplines are involved?

Each chapter is written by a different author(s) giving great breadth of perspective and balance. Disciplines include medicine, music therapy, neuroscience, psychology, psycho-physiology, education and more. Different methodological perspectives are explored from quantitative studies through qualitative research, clinical to non-clinical settings and research to practice.

Who is it aimed at?

One of the aims of the authors was to bring together different disciples within music and health and in this they have succeeded. Whilst it is designed for professionals, due to its easy to reference design it would be equally accessible to the lay-person due to the easy to reference layouts of the chapters.

Thank you to Caroline for taking the time to write this fantastic book review. If you are interested in reviewing a book for the AHECRN please get in touch with Robyn (Blog editor).

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