Therapies - Music


Anthroposophic Music Therapy is one of the specialist art therapies in Anthroposophic Medicine besides therapeutic speech, painting/drawing, and modelling/sculpturing. It is based on an extended image of the human being and goes back to indications given by Rudolf Steiner in the early twentieth century on the deepened experience and understanding of musical elements. Anthroposophic music therapy was developed in close connection with the impulse for the therapeutic use of the lyre. The actual concept of using music for the purpose of healing goes back to pre-Christian times.
In music therapy the patient is either involved actively or in a receiving capacity. The therapy aims to activate the patient’s powers of self-healing. Being included in a musical process allows patients to contribute to the healing process. Anthroposophic music therapy affects all four levels of the human organization - body, life forces, soul and spirit. We use the human voice as well as various kinds of instruments that are easy to play.

Music therapy is suited to almost all disorders, with the exception of acute psychoses and feverish conditions. It is harmonizing and warming, enhances concentration and stimulates self-perception, self-awareness and self-confidence. Anthroposophic music therapists work in schools and kindergartens, in special needs education and social therapy, hospitals, rehabilitation, penal institutions, in the context of addiction, prevention, health improvement, emergency measures, refugee work, and in private practice.
Anthroposophic Music Therapy is a specialist branch of the Anthroposophic Art Therapies which are organized in professional associations. There is plenty of literature available, from printed publications to research studies, and schools exist in many countries worldwide, offering special events and training courses.


Therapeutic Aspects:

"Every illness is a musical problem; healing is a musical solution.”

Each of us is unique and music therapy must therefore be chosen to suit the individual. Age, constitution, gender, social environment, life circumstances and not least the patient’s condition are taken into account before a therapy plan is made. The following considerations are therefore very general, serving as rough guidelines only on how we work with patients. What is essential is that therapist and patient create a situation that involves music-making and listening, aiming to stimulate healing processes in order to re-establish a balance among the members of the human organization. Often these therapeutic processes give rise to something entirely new and unexpected.

Anthroposophic music therapy does not work with electronically generated music because it relies on the effect of the tone’s ether quality on the therapeutic process.
Patients are usually referred by their physicians, but they can also self-refer. Music therapy lets us reconnect with the cosmic forces that form us and are active in us. The physicist Ernst Chladni demonstrated impressively the ordering forces of individual tones, intervals and tone sequences.

Music therapy makes use of
•    sounds

•    pitch

•    sound sequences
•    intervals 

•    scales

•    rhythms

•    diverse instruments

•    the human voice

At the beginning of therapy, the music therapist establishes his diagnosis based on the anthroposophical view of the human being and choses the therapeutic elements that will enhance the therapeutic process by harmonizing one-sided or pathological tendencies.
It is important that the therapy as a whole is tailored to the individual patient and his or her particular needs.
Each session must have an element of active music-making and receptive listening. The patient’s ‘I’-activity is stimulated as he or she holds a rhythm, carries a melody from beginning to end, or finds the right rhythm in accompanying a song. This process will enhance the recovery process. Patients who are not well enough to take an active part are nevertheless inwardly active and contribute to the therapy.

The therapeutic elements and their effects

Apart from the standard pitch of 440 Hertz, anthroposophic music therapy also uses the lower pitch of 432 Hertz because of its particular etheric effects.

Each tone has a particular effect due to its relationship with the seven- or twelve-fold cosmic influences

  • The seven planetary qualities become effective in the tones of the octave and can support organ processes. 

  • The twelve-foldness is reflected, and can be experienced, in relation to the senses: we can choose a particular tone as a “sensory gateway” to a particular sense (the sense of thought, for instance), and then use intervals to address the corresponding life processes (see below).

By choosing a particular pitch we address a particular member of the patient’s organization.

The intervals reflect our relationship with the world around us, but we can also use them at various levels because of their diverse relationships with the etheric body.

  • We may feel secure when enveloped by the mood of the fifth. The fourth can make us feel the boundaries of our body; we may become more inward when the third resounds. The seventh can convey a feeling of being “out of oneself”, the octave a sense of inner strength and uprightness.
  • The effect of the etheric in the form of life processes, inner movements and stages of life is also reflected in the intervals and can be stimulated through them.

The various scales – pentatonic, hexatonic or mirrored, the modes and cadenzas, major and minor moods – all have their origin in the connection between the seven planetary tones and the twelve tones of the zodiac. They each have a specific effect because they speak to a particular part of us. We experience the major mood as fresh, uplifting, health-inspiring whereas the minor mood has something inward, sensitive, decelerated or wistful.

Rhythms can be energizing or soothing, harmonizing or invigorating. The dactyl (- v v), for instance, is calming and focuses our thinking; it is more balanced than the trochee (- v); the anapaest (v v -), while it enlivens & harmonizes us, is not as arousing as the iambic meter (v - ).

All instruments used in active music therapy are easy to play yet sonorous. They are mostly less well-known because they were developed to serve the anthroposophic music impulse. The planetary metals are also included as effective qualities. The instruments we use, which will be introduced below, can be divided into three categories, analogous to the division of the human organization into neuro-sensory system, rhythmic system and metabolism-and-limb system. The effects of the various instruments can be seen in parallel with these three systems.

  • Wind instruments correspond to the realm of the head.
  • String instruments (for plucking and bowing) correspond to the middle and affect the rhythmic system
  • Percussion instruments have an effect on the metabolic system in the lower human being. Some sound warm and dull and have an “enveloping” effect, while others sound bright and clear and create structure.

In each of these groups we have instruments that have a warming effect (corresponding to inflammatory diseases) and instruments with a structuring effect (corresponding to hardening processes).
When I address the head, the upper human being, I can use a wind instrument for a structuring, enlivening or ordering effect. By using an instrument with a warm tone, the gemshorn for instance, I can target cold diseases of the head. With inflammatory tendencies in the head I use a wind instrument with a clear, bright tone, such as the silver flute or the descant recorder. In the lower human being music therapy can either stimulate or inhibit metabolism. Instruments with a low, warm sound – the tenor chrotta or Native American drum, for instance, or the glockenspiel – support the digestive forces. Intolerances can also be balanced when we address the metabolic system directly. The lyre and related instruments stimulate the forces of the middle, as do all vibrating instruments such as gongs, hand-bells and tubular bells. By strengthening the rhythmic organization we can balance one-sided developments and ensure that neither the forces of the head nor those of the metabolic system become too strong. The Bordun lyre is perfectly suited to bring the upper and lower systems together again and support their healthy interaction.  

  • Singing plays a special role in therapy because it involves all three systems actively which in itself has a health-promoting effect. The intended effect can be further enhanced by the use of specific exercises.

The effect music therapy has on the breathing – not only when we sing, but also through the vibrating or bowing of an instrument – is essential to the therapeutic process. The transition from hearing to active listening as well as resonance and after-effect are further therapeutic elements which originate in silence and must not be underestimated.

The effect of music therapy therefore always relies on the combination of instruments or voice, the various musical elements (melody, harmony, rhythm) and the elements mentioned earlier. This leads to the release of inner tension, inner warming of the body, deepened breathing, enhanced digestion, a harmonized and ensouled movement flow, and growing inner strength, and it directly affects the activity of the organs.  


Music therapy is suited to and healing for patients of all ages. It can be used with almost all conditions and situations of physical and mental crises, including

  • pregnancy (for instance with premature labour)

  • with premature babies
  • to help children incarnate
  • with inhibited development or developmental disorders 

  • to support speech development
  • in puberty, with eating disorders and other crises of adolescence 

  • in palliative care

  • in end-of-life care
  • in grief work

  • with sleeping disorders

  • pain

  • after traumas

  • with social behaviour disorders

  • concentration disorders, attention disorders
  • cardio-vascular disease

  • inflammatory diseases

  • respiratory diseases
  • digestive problems and ailments
  • organic ailments or diseases with dysfunction of kidney, liver, lungs, spleen or gallbladder
  • cancer

  • chronic disorders

  • exhaustion and convalescence

  • rheumatic diseases

  • anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression and other mental disorders
  • dementia
  • nervous disorders: 

in special-needs education, severe developmental disorders in the autistic spectrum (for instance), epilepsy, genetic disorders, hearing loss and deafness
, constitutional diseases (neurasthenic or hysterical phenomena)

  • counter indications
  • acute psychosis
  • high fevers

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