Music Therapy And Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease or “PD” affects more than 6 million people worldwide.  Each individual living with experience unique symptoms and have unique life histories.  That’s why music therapists seek to treat their clients with a holistic approach–to see the whole person, not just a list of symptoms that needs to be treated.  Music therapy is the clinical use of musical interventions to improve the client’s quality of life.

Music is everywhere.  Its ubiquity makes it a highly accessible tool to accomplish therapeutic goals! Music can be used as a form of non-linguistic communication, enabling it to be used as therapy for communication impairments.  It also often induces physical activity, which is an underlying goal of neurorehabilitation.  Among others, these characteristics of music allow it to ultimately impact cognition, identity, behaviour, and emotion. Not only does music have the ability to elicit motion and emotion, it is also engaging and enjoyable, making it a motivating therapeutic medium.

Dance, group singing, speech exercises, and drumming are all programs that can help individuals with Parkinson’s Disease express themselves, maintain motor function, improve communication, and experience a better quality of life.

Here’s just a few ways music therapy can improve quality of life for individuals with Parkinson’s Disease.

Balance and Motor Movement: Posture, stride length, side-to-side movement, gait, and other motor movements can all be improved with music therapy. Rhythm serves as a template for organizing a series of movements, and many studies show that auditory rhythmic cues and other musical elements can be paired with use of a treadmill to optimize improvement.

Communication: Communication impairment is a symptom of Parkinson’s disease that greatly impacts life for many.  Singing shares many neural networks and structural mechanisms with speech, making it very beneficial for those who seek to improve speech and communication.  The ParkinSong intervention, for example, includes high effort vocal and respiratory tasks, speech exercises, group singing, and social communication opportunities that have been shown to increase vocal intensity, loudness, and respiratory function.

Cognition:  Song lyrics and musical cues have the ability to improve memory, recall, recognition, and attention span.

Mental Health:  Many individuals with Parkinson’s Disease can experience struggles with their mental health.  Music therapy can provide an opportunity to express, be creative, and find enjoyment.

Loneliness:  Feelings of loneliness and isolation can also be common for individuals with Parkinson’s Disease.  Group music therapy sessions allow for connection and community with others.

At Wellington Music Therapy Services, we care about YOU and your unique needs.  Don’t hesitate to reach out to learn about how music therapy can help.


Bartolo, D. De, et al. “Effect of Different Music Genres on Gait Patterns in Parkinson’s Disease.” Neurological Sciences, vol. 41, no. 3, Dec. 2019, pp. 575–582., doi:10.1007/s10072-019-04127-4.

Brancatisano, Olivia, et al. “Why Is Music Therapeutic for Neurological Disorders? The Therapeutic Music Capacities Model.” Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, vol. 112, 2020, pp. 600–615., doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2020.02.008.

“Feel the Rhythm: Music Therapy and Parkinson’s Disease.” Parkinson’s Foundation,

Irons, J. Yoon, et al. “Group Singing Improves Quality of Life for People with Parkinson’s: an International Study.” Aging & Mental Health, May 2020, pp. 1–7., doi:10.1080/13607863.2020.1720599.

Luca, Rosaria De, et al. “Do Patients with PD Benefit from Music Assisted Therapy plus Treadmill-Based Gait Training? An Exploratory Study Focused on Behavioral Outcomes.” International Journal of Neuroscience, July 2020, pp. 1–8., doi:10.1080/00207454.2019.1710147.

Orgeta, Vasiliki, et al. “Cognitive Training Interventions for Dementia and Mild Cognitive Impairment in Parkinson’s Disease.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2015, doi:10.1002/14651858.cd011961.