Prevent Harmful Restraint and Seclusion for Special Ed Students
Autism Ambassadors Train Typical Peers to Work with Peers with ASD

Music To The Mind - Activating Human Potential

SAS-Logo-8 Steven Michaëlis

Music has been around for a long time. A simple flute made from bone was used by Neanderthal man more than 40,000 years ago and clay tablets found in Syria depict the score of 4,000 year old songs. But we do not have to go back that far for evidence that music is an integral part of the human experience. A foetus in the mothers womb will start to react to sounds at just 16 weeks and in a clinical experiment Brahms Lullaby being played to premature babies six times a day for just five minutes each time resulted in faster weight gain. Babies start to sway and rock to music long before they can walk or talk and much language is learned through nursery rhymes and songs. Adults spend billions on pre-recorded and live music because it makes them feel better.

So what is it that makes music so special? We listen to music using our two ears and the signal received by our ears is send to the brain for processing. To be able to filter, comprehend and use this information the brain needs to organise all the incoming data. It will look for patterns and similarities and it will try to match these to previous experiences stored in memory. Fortunately almost all music is highly structured and organised, with only small, often predictable, variations providing the tune or melody. Music thus provides pre-organised information to the brain, which is very easily assimilated and processed. The rhythm and beats within music often mimic our breathing and heart rate. Thus music with a slow rhythm can relax us, while disc jockeys in clubs make use of the beats-per-minute to whip the audience on the dance floor into an ever-increasing frenzy.

Music is food for the brain and it can influence how we feel, learn and develop in extraordinary ways. Rather than using it randomly when we have some spare time or just feel like it, it can be used in a much more directed and purposeful way to improve emotional well-being, speed up learning or help overcome developmental difficulties.

Music for emotional well-being.

Many of us use music to create or alter our mood or emotional state. Loud and rapid music can instil energy and drive, while soft and slow music can relax us and help us to fall asleep. But there is much more to music than just that. Recent brain imaging tests by a Canadian research group have shown that when we listen to emotionally powerful music the brain releases dopamine in the reward centres of the brain, which provides us with feelings of enjoyment and motivation. More remarkably, just thinking about that music will start the release of these 'happy' neurotransmitters in the brain.

TIP: Notice which music has an emotional impact on you and at least once a week create a special time to listen to it and let your emotions flow freely. Make sure it is your special time without interruptions. It may help to buy a pair of headphones to experience the music even more. Then, at any time when you feel stressed or under pressure, simply think back to your music and you'll create your own natural and drug free rescue remedy.

Music for better learning.

That music helps learning has been known for centuries and it is no coincidence that almost all religions all over the world use music in their ceremonies, as it aids memory and recall. Georgi Lozanov, a Bulgarian psychologist, developed a new learning and teaching method, Suggestopedia, in the 1960's which makes much use of barok music for relaxation and so-called 'concert readings'. Often used for foreign language learning, the method was examined and proven to be effective by UNESCO in the 1970's. Dr. Alfred Tomatis, a French otolaryngologist, described in a book published in 1991 how certain pieces of Mozart music promote the development of the brain. The results of a scientific investigation into the 'Mozart Effect' were published in Nature in 1993, showing that listening to Mozart's Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major temporarily increased IQ scores by 8 to 9 points in specific spatial-temporal tasks.

TIP: Listening to music before or during study periods may help to memorise information and simply thinking of that same music will help with recall during exams. Try barok or music by Mozart, but allow teenagers to choose their own favourite music.

Music to overcome developmental difficulties.

The same Dr. Tomatis who discovered the Mozart Effect, is also recognised as the modern day originator of sound therapy. In the early 1950's he developed an effective therapy method using altered music to treat conditions such as auditory processing disorder, dyslexia, attention deficit disorder and autism. Another French doctor, Dr. Guy Bérard, developed a similar method, Auditory Integration Training (AIT), which has found many followers in the USA. A study at the University of Illinois found significant decreases in epileptiform activity in 23 of 29 patients with epilepsy after listening for just 5 minutes to that same Mozart music.

TIP: Check out the free home programme available from Sensory Activation Solutions. There is no catch, it's absolutely free and, most importantly, often very effective. Check it out at

Music is the free medicine of the mind - enjoy it whenever you can and use it creatively to improve your emotional well-being, to learn better or to help your child overcome developmental difficulties.

Steven Michaëlis is an experienced counsellor, presenter and consultant in human auditory perception. He specialises in sensory activation techniques that assist in the further development of children and adults with learning difficulties. He has founded Sensory Activation Solutions, an organisation with Centres in London (U.K.) and Istanbul & Ankara in Turkey.


Michele Hermet

Hi, I am in California and recently graduated from a Tomatis school in Belgium (Mozart-Brain-Lab) Its director, Jozef Vervoort was a close collaborator of Prof Tomatis for many years and they worked together at the elaboration of a new listening device they called the "Brain Activator". The Atlantis center in Belgium is now probably the biggest center in the world. I have now acquired one of those devices and I am starting to apply the program on autistic children. I would love to develop a non-profit in Los Angeles to be able to reach out to low income families. I do my best for now, I charge a very low fee and I take some kids for free, but working at home with only one machine I can't do much. If anyone who reads this page have ideas or contacts, please don't hesitate to write me at Thanks!

Barrie G. Galvin

For those of you in Cleveland, Cleveland was the first location for a Tomatis Center in the United States opening in the mid 1980's. Dr. Tomatis came to Cleveland for the opening of the Center. Unfortunately, even though it was supported by many grants, that center only survived a few years. Later, the remaining funds were given to a new non-profit in Cleveland in hopes of providing the region with continued access to listening interventions. That center is called TLC of Ohio and is part of the services provided by GERCF, The Galvin Education and Resource Center for Families, located in Warrensville Hts. which also provides library resources, Floor Time introductory training and lectures for professionals and parents and caregivers on various topics - many related to autism issues. This center offers a choice of listening options through companies such as Advanced Brain Technologies (TLP), EnListen and REI -Rhythmic Entrainment Interventions. Trained professionals are available to evaluate children and adults and assist families with decisions regarding goal attainment and protocol development. Call 216 514 1600 for more information.

Darian (nickname)

Actually, I find metla theraputic. It all depends on the band you are listening to. Not all of them are nothing but screaming and noise.

I have alot of pent up rage and anger due to having a pretty dark past. I repress these feelings most of the time because I don't want the feelings to control me and I do something incredibly stupid. Due to said dark past, I am a dual diagnoser, with Asperger's Syndrome and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

When I listen to my favorite metal songs, it's a release. It is putting into words my anger, pain, and fustration, I can get it out into the open that way. I'm allowed to feel the anger but channel it into a healthy means instead of being self destructive.

That being said, I'm a fan of many genres. My favorites are those personalties, no matter their genre , who's music reaches out even to an aspie, grabs you, and pulls you in with every note they sing. Think Billie Holiday with her haunting Strange Fruit. Judy Garland with Smile, Frank Sinatra with My Way.

Classical music gives you a buzz like no other however. It is a genre that can truly be called beautiful. It's like a masterpiece painting, only painted in sound. I use to get the ultimate high being a part of such music in high school. I still play my flute when I can.

Music is great therapy for ALL! :)

Steven Michaelis

"Actually, the beneficial effects of music only comes from classical music. Discordant music (like heavy metal) creates similar discord in the brain and is harmful."

I agree that Heavy Metal music does little to create harmony in the brain and I would never use that kind of discordant music. However, it is not true that only Classical music provides beneficial effects.

I've made extensive use of melodic contemporary music with very good results. Especially for teenaged kids this can provide acceptability and motivation to listen, while still inducing the benefical effects of the altered music.

There is a need for more research in this area and we are currently working with a top university here in Turkey to execute controlled experiments to investigate the effects of altered music on the mind.

I'll keep everyone posted on developments.


^ "Fortunately almost all music is highly structured and organised, with only small, often predictable, variations providing the tune or melody."

Actually, the beneficial effects of music only comes from classical music. Discordant music (like heavy metal) creates similar discord in the brain and is harmful.

michael framson

I've arrived at the conclusion that of all the "so called" achievements of man, it is the ability to create music that may be the greatest, that has no downside.

John Tipping

Now you come to mention it,when I listen to music my dyslexia reduces and I read a bit easier.I will try this more often, I will keep you informed. John Tipping the Dyslexic Entrepreneur your welcome to read my blog about dyslexia at


This is a nice and informative post about music.I like music very much and you have very well written that music is food for the brain.I also like your tips about music and I completely agree with it.Every one should follow these tips.Thank you very much.


Thank you for information on this program. I'm hoping to see if my daughter receives any benefit from this program.

We've had some success using music to help her learn, especially with her math. She would have trouble retaining memorized counting series when we tried to teach new ones. Putting each series to its own tune has helped her keep them separated and as well as helped her long-term retention.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)