Modern medicine using music to heal

LOS ANGELES She's in the hospital, but Carol Starks feels she's being transported to another place.

"A little music goes a long way and it soothes the soul," said Starks.

Bariatric surgeon and musician, Dr. Peter Crookes, heals for a living but says modern medicine can only bring people so far. The rest depends on the patient and he believes music helps.

"It may cause the release of endorphins and that is one of the postulate mechanisms. Anything that will open the patient's mind to other dimensions of life helps them to cope with it," said Dr. Crookes.

Musician Jane Kim founded the USC volunteer program. She saw music's medical effects firsthand when her father was a patient.

"At the time that he was in the hospital he found it very beneficial listening to music. And seeing the positive effects it had on him I wanted to share that with others," said Kim.

Once a month, some patients get treated to an impromptu concert.

"It was just great. It just made me feel very good and it made me feel very special," said patient Ceci Montalvo.

We all enjoy hearing music, but if it's just in the background and you're just passively listening, experts say it's not going to work on your body and mind. To truly experience music you have to actively listen to it.

"If you attend to music it channels the brain and trains certain actions in the brain which I think are beneficial," said Dr. Crookes.

Studies show music can help people recovering from pain and reduce the need for post-op medications.

Another study reveals music can reduce the anxiety of patients just before surgery. Patients say music's ability to alter their mood can be quite beneficial.

"It makes happiness. It doesn't matter how sad you are or how hurt you are, music can bring it out," said Starks.

If you are interested in being a volunteer for the Music Heals program send an e-mail to


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