Music Benefits Animals Too

Music Benefits Animals Too

by Steve Rees, Ret. RN, Harpist

Music has had many beneficial effects on humans. Each day, I receive comments on my YouTube channel ( about how people have been helped by the calming effects of the harp music videos that I offer. I was a bit surprised one day when I received a comment from one of my listeners that their dog had been calmed by my harp music. They told me that the dog had been very hyperactive, and they didn’t know what to do. One of them had the idea of putting some of my music on the stereo to see what happened. They told me that their dog immediately went over to one of the speakers, laid down, and went to sleep. Awesome!
Another amazing report came sometime later from a friend that raised goats. She milked them to sell the milk and make various goat milk products. She told me that the goats were quite skittish and would often kick a half-filled bucket over wasting the milk that had already been collected. One day, she decided to play one of my CDs during the milking process. She reported that she hasn’t lost a bucket of milk since. She said that the goats just settled down and ate calmly during the milking process – Total transformation.
I have received several other testimonies along the way. So, I decided to do a little research to see if this phenomenon had been noticed or documented by anyone else or another source. That lead me to an online site, Animal Wellness Magazine. One article I will be quoting from was written by Susan Wagner, DVM on January 5, 2016,
One of the first things to remember about animals, especially dogs, is that their hearing range is quite different than a human range. Humans range from 20 Hertz to about 20,000 Hertz. A dog’s range is 40 to 65,000 Hertz. That means that a dog can hear high sounds that humans cannot hear. The sound is there but we cannot discern it because our ears cannot translate that fast of a vibration into a meaningful auditory signal to our brain, so it doesn’t register as sound to us.
But a dog’s ear can translate that high pitch of a sound into a usable auditory signal, therefore, identifying the sound. We can demonstrate that with the use of a dog whistle. When we blow on it, we don’t hear anything, but a dog does hear and comes running, or maybe begins to howl.
We also notice that animals are more sensitive to sound than humans. For instance, a dog starts to bark when a car enters the property well ahead of when the human hears the car coming. Also, we note that a dog may run for hiding when thunder is sounding off, or howl when an instrument is being played such as a trumpet. They hear differently.
But there are similarities with the effects of music on animals. Dr. Wagner went on to make these observations in her article. “The effects of music have been well documented in humans, and studies with domestic and other animals have revealed that music also has a powerful effect on them. For example, studies showed that country music can calm ponies while classical music helped cows produce more milk and improved the growth rate of chickens. A recent study on cats demonstrated that calming music increased the depth of anesthesia during surgery. Dolphins, meanwhile, have been known to swim in synchrony to Bach.”
She went on to note, “A study done in Ireland found that classical music is the preferred calming sound source in dog shelters. Research done by Through a Dog’s Ear took this a step further and applied the principles of resonance, entrainment, and the orienting response to classical music selections. It discovered that slow, psychoacoustically arranged single-instrument (piano) music had the most calming effects. Upwards of 70% of dogs in shelters and veterinary offices, and 85% of dogs in home environments, became noticeably calmer with this music. It was also found to reduce twice as many anxiety behaviors in fearful dogs as standard classical selections did. Many animal shelters are now benefiting from programs that provide calming music for their residents.”
As we understand the benefits of calming music for our animals and pets, it is important to also consider their level of sensitivity to sound. Since their hearing is more acute than our own, Dr. Wagner recommends that we take special care to analyze the sound sources in our home environment. Are there sound sources that might be acceptable for us but are upsetting for our pets? Have we gotten used to some sound sources that can be harmful to our animals?
With the knowledge of these studies, we can control the sound environment of our homes by reducing some of the more harmful sound sources and introducing some of the calming sources such as the music suggested above. I could put in a recommendation for the music of my calming harp too.
One more story comes from a friend of mine in Ohio that operates a pet spa. Owners drop off their pets to receive grooming and cleaning, then come by a few hours later to pick up their pets. She told me that she plays my harp music every day, softly in the background. One day an owner picked up their pet, and they asked her, “What are you doing to my pet? Every time I pick them up, they are so calm!”. She told them about the music, and they were amazed.
In the final analysis, if music has been demonstrated through multiple studies to benefit humans, it is reasonable to expect it to be beneficial for our family pets and animals as well? I could show you YouTube video after video of animals responding to music. It is natural, and it’s a part of life. Music benefits Life for animals too!

Healing From the Ear

Healing From the Ear

Healing from the Ear

by Steve Rees, Ret. RN, Harpist

A new acquaintance that found my Calming Harp music online, introduced me to a goldmine of information that helped me to understand why the music I produce has such amazing effects on people for health benefits, sleep apnea, easing tensions, and so much more. Until I was introduced to this research, I was mostly dependent on anecdotal accounts of the benefits of the Calming Harp music and the frequency work that I have identified over the past decade and more.
This article is a synopsis of an article: THE THERAPEUTIC EFFECT OF HIGH-FREQUENCY AUDITION
The full text is available at
© Bradford S. Weeks M. D. 1986:
To be clear, the frequency work was not my original discovery as I attribute much of the information to Dr. Leonard Horowitz and Dr. Joseph Puleo. However, even Leonard called me one time and told me that they knew the frequencies had to do with music, but they didn’t know what to do with it. He then told me, “But you know what to do with it musically.” That has been my contribution to this fascinating field of discovery; bringing specific frequencies into music and identifying types of music that bring the desired results.
But what does music have to do with the ear? What may seem like an obvious answer, is much more involved than I had ever understood. Yes, we must “hear” music to receive the benefits it offers, and the ear is what we hear with. I discovered that there are two kinds of hearing. There is active hearing, or listening, in which we are focused on what the music is doing. There is also passive hearing in which our ear apparatus is receiving the energy sound waves from the source, but we are not paying attention. Each has different effects.
The article begins by acknowledging that there are different schools of thought and research connected to the study of the ear and its mechanisms.
“Orthodox: It is commonly understood that the ear is divided into three parts – the external ear (meatus and canal), the middle ear (tympanic membrane, ossicles, middle ear muscles) and the inner ear (vestibule and cochlea).”
“Unorthodox: An appreciation of embryology suggests that there are, practically speaking, only two ears – an external and an internal ear. We know that the embryo originally consists of a series of five branchial arches [3]. The adult ear develops from the first two. More specifically, the first brachial arch will develop into the first two ossicles of the ear (the malleus with its muscle and the incus) and falls under the enervation of the trigeminal nerve (5th cranial nerve). The second brachial arch produces the third ossicle (stapes with its stapedius muscle) and is innervated by the facial nerve (7th cranial nerve). More can be made of the other organs which arise from these first two brachial arches (lower jaw with adductive muscles from the first and upper part of the larynx, the hyoid bone, and the anterior ventral segment of the digastric muscle with opposes the jaw adductors) …. My point here is that the ear is functionally understood as tripartite while comprising a polarity. This distinction becomes therapeutically significant in terms of high-frequency audition.”
This is just a look at the anatomical differences in understanding how the ear works and is structured. There are also other anatomical considerations as well. “The ear is now understood to be neurologically involved with the optic or 2nd cranial nerve, the oculomotor or 3rd cranial nerve, the trochlear or 4th cranial nerve, the abducens or 6th cranial nerve and the spinal-accessory or 11th cranial nerve which is responsible for posterior-lateral musculature of the neck.”
The writer went on to describe the anatomy of the nerves that run through the area of the ear in our bodies, likening it to a look at the roads that lead into and out of Rome. Everything leads everywhere else, and everything is interconnected. One cannot affect one nerve without involving at least one other and usually more. In other words, the ear is Grand Central Station for all communications and functions of the body. The longest nerve, the vagus, runs through the ear as well.
“What is the significance of vagal and acoustic interaction? Let us track this path throughout the body. The vagus wanders on contacting next to the postural back muscles via an anastomosis with the spino-accessory or 11th cranial nerve, then sensitizes that part of the larynx responsible for vocalization via the upper laryngeal nerve before delivering motor innervation via the recurrent laryngeal nerves. Subsequently, the vagus innervates the bronchi and heart before joining the opposing vagal nerve and diving through the diaphragm to innervate the entire viscera including the gastrointestinal tract from the esophagus to the anus (via anastomosis with sacral nerves 2, 3, and 4).”
Much of the unorthodox view stems from the research of Dr. Tomatis. Born in 1920, Dr. Tomatis earned his M.D. from the Faculte de Paris before specializing in oto-rhino-laryngology. En route to establishing the International Association of Audio-Psycho-Phonology. His research led him to develop therapies for a multitude of pathologies that were related to these cranial nerve-to-vagus nerve connections.
“As a clinician, Tomatis has achieved a reputation for successful and unorthodox therapies whose scope exceeded the scope of oto-rhino-laryngology. The list of maladies successfully treated via high-frequency auditive therapy includes Ear, Nose, and Throat disorders: (hearing and voice loss, stuttering, tinnitus, otitis media, scotomas); Neurological disorders: (toe walking from vestibular nuclei problems, drooling, strabismus); Psychiatric disorders: (depression, attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity); and Learning disorders: (dyslexia, inability to concentrate); and a variety of balance/coordination problems related to the ear’s vestibular disorders. These therapeutic coups occur via retraining the ear muscles using another Tomatis invention, the electronic ear.” (References are given for all these case studies in the original article.)
A whole network of Tomatis clinics has been established worldwide and their website is:
Dr. Tomatis once said, “The ear builds, organizes, and nourishes the nervous system.” With that understanding, the various therapeutic modes offered are all based on these amazing connections between our process of hearing and listening and how they affect all the other conditions within our bodies and minds.
Dr. Tomatis also found that different frequencies had different effects on different organ systems and different levels of nerve connections to the spinal cord. Many therapies utilize different frequencies to address specific areas of pathology.
What I have found to be most interesting in all these research and therapy modalities is the underlying fact that our ear’s structure and anatomy are so designed that every part of our body is somehow connected to our ear. As we listen to the proper frequencies, our ears detect these frequencies and carry the benefits of those frequencies to the various parts of our bodies that are connected to the nerves that pass through the area of our ears. This, then, begins to explain how and why so many people are so positively affected by music either as a therapy modality or even as entertainment. It explains why so many people write to me and tell me their stories of how positively the music I present has affected their lives.
Another fascinating aspect of this article is the research into intrauterine sound production and reception with the fetus. “Dr. Tomatis asserts that the brain receives more stimuli via the ears than from any other organ. He considers skin to be differentiated ear rather than vice versa. In his two-volume work, ‘Towards a Human Listening,’ he builds an intriguing defense of this radical departure from orthodoxy which involves, for example, phylogenetic data suggesting, paradoxically, that the ear preceded the nervous system.”
“The most exciting theory of Tomatis, and the one which led me to consider the role of sacred music as therapy, is the concept of cortical charge. Experience tells us that some sounds put us to sleep (lullabies) and some keep us awake (traffic); some calm us down (surf on the beach) and some make us dance all night (rhythm). A hard-driving beat practically forces us to tap our feet. The screech of chalk on the blackboard makes us scream and contract in discomfort. We are constantly bathed by sound, and Tomatis has devoted his career to analyzing the effect which various components of sound exert on our physiology. The claim that music exerts a profound effect on us is beyond question. What remains is only to establish the correlations, perhaps psychosomatic, perhaps vagally innervated, of these sound components to our physiology.”
Dr. Tomatis said, “The ear is primarily an apparatus intended to provide a cortical charge in terms of electric potential. Sound is transformed into a nervous influx by the coliform cells of the cochlear-vestibular apparatus. The charge of energy obtained from the influx of nervous impulses reaches the cortex, which then distributes it throughout the body toning up the whole system and imparting greater dynamism to the human being.”
Therapeutically, “the aim will be to provoke, with sonic training made of high frequencies heard in a listening posture, this cortical charge to energize the individual. The effect of the training generally manifests themselves in the following ways to the greater subject: -greater motivation and competence in working -lower susceptibility to fatigue -awareness of dynamism -better possibilities of attention and concentration -better memorization.”
In summary, the benefits of music for improved health have much to do with the way we hear and the mechanisms and anatomy of the ear. The music and frequencies we select to listen to have much to do with affecting the whole nervous system which is the basic communication apparatus for every system of our bodies. If we choose wisely our health benefits. If we choose poorly, we suffer. In the end, the choice is ours!

How Music Affects Sleep

How Music Affects Sleep

by Steve Rees, Ret. RN, Harpist

Many of the comments on my YouTube channel describe how the calming music of the harp helps them sleep through the night. While this may seem to be a natural result of the music, I decided to do a little research to see if there might be some scientific studies that better explain how this happens.

One study set out to determine if it takes more or less time to fall asleep using music.  In the study, women with symptoms of insomnia, played a self-selected album when getting into bed for 10 consecutive nights. Before adding music to their evening routine, it took participants 27 to 69 minutes to fall asleep; after adding music it only took 6 to 13 minutes.

Johnson J. E. (2003). The use of music to promote sleep in older women. Journal of community health nursing, 20(1), 27–35.

Over the years, many people have commented on my YouTube channel.  Most of them tell me that they found the music to be very helpful in getting to sleep. Some have claimed to be plagued by insomnia before finding my harp music but were now sleeping through the night with no disturbance. Some also tell me that playing my harp music while trying to get their children to take a nap has been very successful at getting them quiet so they can actually fall asleep.

This should not be surprising. From time immemorial, the softly sung lullaby has been used to bring wide-eyed toddlers into a dreamy sleep state. No matter the culture, or the language, the lullaby has been employed countless times for the benefit of both mother and child. We probably don’t even need a “scientific study” to convince us of this fact because of its universal application and observation.

But scientific studies have been done and are being done, so let’s look at a few more.

In a study conducted by László Harmat 1, Johanna Takács, Róbert Bódizs, they used a three-group repeated measures design. Ninety-four students (aged between 19 and 28 years) with sleep complaints were studied in 2006. Participants listened for 45 minutes either to relaxing classical music (Group 1) or an audiobook (Group 2) at bedtime for 3 weeks. The control group (Group 3) received no intervention. Sleep quality was measured using the Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index before the study and weekly during the intervention. Depressive symptoms in experimental group participants were measured using the Beck Depression Inventory.

At the end of the study, it was determined that group 1, listening to classical music, had a significant improvement in sleep as well as reduced depression. At the same time, the other 2 groups had little change.

Another paper reported on a meta-analysis conducted to evaluate the efficacy of music-assisted relaxation for sleep quality in adults and elders with sleep complaints, with or without a co-morbid medical condition. The results suggested that music-assisted relaxation can be used without intensive investment in training and materials and is therefore cheap, easily available. Also, it can be used by nurses to promote music-assisted relaxation to improve sleep quality.

In a previous article I wrote, one of the factors that music provides is a slow constant rhythmic beat that our heart tends to entrain to which is beneficial for sleeping. If you remember, entrainment is the phenomenon in which a strong dominant beat is gradually matched by surrounding devices or organisms. A Dutch clockmaker was the first to notice the feature as his clocks would gradually fall into the same rhythm, tic-tocking in unison. In the same way, our heart tends to slow (or speed, depending on the music chosen) to the rhythm of the music that is surrounding us. Obviously, a slowing heart rate will assist in relaxing, and help to bring us into a sleep state.

Another study I found very interesting was conducted in China by On Kei Angela Lee 1, Yuet Foon Loretta Chung, Moon Fai Chan, Wai Ming Chan. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of music on the anxiety of patients on mechanical ventilation, as assessed by objective parameters and a subjective validated anxiety scale. Mechanical ventilation, although sometimes lifesaving, is often associated with levels of anxiety requiring sedatives, which has inevitable implications on costs and complications.

“A total of 64 subjects were randomly assigned to undergo either 30 minutes of music intervention or a rest period. The subjects were asked to answer the Chinese State-Trait Anxiety Inventory scale before and after the study period. Physiological indices and resting behaviors were recorded before and after the study period in both groups. The subjects’ satisfaction with music was also obtained after music intervention.

Results: The findings indicate that patients on mechanical ventilation that listened to a single 30-minute session of music appeared to show greater relaxation as manifested by a decrease in physiological indices and an increase in comfortable resting behaviors.

Conclusion: Music can provide an effective method of reducing potentially harmful physiological responses arising from anxiety in mechanically ventilated patients.” 

While this study was not specifically designed to access sleep assistance, it is easy to infer that this reduction in anxiety would contribute to better sleep, even when a person is undergoing a radical medical intervention such as mechanical ventilation.

We will look at one more study by Jespersen KV, Pando-Naude V, Koenig J, Jennum P, Vuust P. Cochrane. It is a meta-analysis study designed to see if insomnia can be positively affected by music. “Insomnia is a common sleep disorder in modern society. It causes reduced quality of life and is associated with impairments in physical and mental health. Listening to music is widely used as a sleep aid, but it remains unclear if it can actually improve insomnia in adults.”

The study was designed to assess the effects of listening to music on insomnia in adults and to assess the influence of specific variables that may moderate the effect. The results suggested that music does indeed affect the amount and quality of sleep. The exact quantification is difficult to arrive at since there are so many variables involved. However, it is at least agreed, that music has a positive effect on sleep.

As I read through the different studies, a common theme emerged. First, music doesn’t cost anything to listen to on electrical devices, or at least the cost is low. Second, good music doesn’t have the harmful side effects that drugs do. Finally, music is available no matter where you are on the planet. Music is everywhere, in every culture, and in every language. From the sounds of nature, a quietly sung lullaby, to a professionally played harp or orchestra, there is no end to the possibilities of music that can bring a quiet, peaceful atmosphere that helps bring on sleep.

Sound Frequencies for Health

Sound Frequencies for Health

by Steve Rees, Ret. RN, Harpist

This article continues to explore the subject of Serenity and some of the scientific reasons for surrounding ourselves with the wonders of the natural world.

John Stuart Reid from the Shift Network provided a class on the subject of Sound Therapy. As this subject was close to my area of interest, I decided to pay for the course and learn from John’s knowledge. I’m glad I did because he is providing information that confirms what I have understood for some time now. Also, he presents it in a very scientific way.

One of the recommendations that I presented in my last article was to take the time and enrich your senses to the wonders of the natural world. These are the places and times when you will find rejuvenating energy for your body, mind, and soul.

As I listened to one of John’s modules, he explained that when we sit and listen to a waterfall, creek, or river, we expose ourselves to ultrasound frequencies that are not audible but are present as documented by instrumentation. A walk by the ocean will produce the same effect. He had a meter that recorded the presence of ultrasound frequencies and played a recording of a waterfall, and it lit up. Amazing! At the same time, it did not light up when a voice spoke into it.

John also observed that there are many sources of these ultrasounds in the natural world instead of the artificial environment that most people live within. The sounds of the wind in the trees, the birds chirping, and many other sounds one encounters on a walk in the woods produce these frequencies that are so beneficial.

What is even more amazing about this phenomenon is the biological function that occurs within our nasal passage.  When exposed to these ultrasound frequencies, special cells stimulate the production of nitric oxide which is responsible for reducing our blood pressure and slowing our heart rate. Other producers of these ultrasounds are full sound spectrum musical instruments such as the harp! This explains why so many people are positively affected by the music I present on CDs, on YouTube, and at live concerts.

A look at the properties of nitric oxide reveals that the endothelium (inner lining) of blood vessels uses nitric oxide to signal the surrounding smooth muscle to relax, resulting in vasodilation and increasing blood flow. It also results in reducing blood pressure. Interestingly, breathing through the nose produces nitric oxide, but breathing through the mouth does not have the same effect.

I recommend John’s work to you if you were interested in sound therapy. His website is:                                                    

He has also developed a Cyma Scope that can display beautiful geometric patterns of different sounds that are sampled or spoken into a microphone.

One of the pieces of information that started me on my whole journey with understanding the healing qualities of the harp and its music was when a friend shared the concept of cymatics. He had shown me an article on geometric designs produced on a metal plate sprinkled with sand that had sound conducted to the plate. Different sounds result in different patterns. As I considered this, it suggested there were material properties to sound.

This inspired me to investigate if the physical letters of the Psalms of David might have clues to connections with musical notes or sound frequencies. I wondered if I could decipher those notes into musical compositions. This understanding has led me to produce the Calming Harp music that I present today at:                                                                  

John’s research takes this concept well beyond my original understanding. Through the images produced by the Cyma Scope, he demonstrates how structured sound is, and how beautiful it is to be able to “see” sound. For example, he experimented with a dolphin research group in Florida, which demonstrated that the sonar signals a dolphin sends out can be used by the dolphin to produce an image of what the sonar signals are bouncing off. This ability enables it to “see” with sound, even in murky water.

Experiments are underway to find out if the sound from a heart beating could be used to help diagnose any pathologies that might exist. Another area of possibility is the ability to hear cells and determine if they are cancerous or healthy. John even showed a Cyma Gram of a healthy body cell compared to a cancerous cell. This ability leads to the possibility of a surgeon being able to use the Cyma Scope to be able to tell if they were able to excise all of a tumor during an operation.

The medical world is embracing music and sound therapy more and more as studies reveal the abilities of sound and music to address disease. As we come to understand more about the properties of sound that can be applied, additional applications will be developed.

My hat’s off to John and the work that he has been doing over the past few decades. Fascinating discoveries have been made about the benefits of sound frequencies for health, and no doubt there are more to come.