Books: Music, Music and Medicine, Music and the Brain


The story of developing the  Medical Musician specialty, which led to the founding of the Medical Musician Initiative, is told in Andrew Schulman's book, Waking The Spirit: A Musician's Journey Healing Body, Mind, and Soul.

Since its release in the U.S. in August 2016 Waking The Spirit has been chosen as an Oliver Sacks Foundation Best Book of the Year Selection, Finalist for the Books for a Better Life Award, and a People Magazine Pick in Nonfiction.

It has been released by Pan Macmillan Australia in Australia and New Zealand, and by Kitap Kurdu (Book Worm) in Turkey, translated into Turkish. The Chinese language edition was released by Chinese Machine Press in January 2020.


In How Music Works scientist and musician John Powell, Ph.D., M.Mus, who is a member of the Board of Advisors of the Medical Musician Initiative, presents the results of decades of psychological and sociological research into our relationship with music. 

What makes a musical  note different from any other sound? How can you tell if you have  perfect pitch? Why do 10 violins sound only twice as loud as one? Do  your Bob Dylan albums sound better on CD or vinyl? Powell answers these questions and many more in this guide to acoustics with lively discussions of the secrets behind  harmony, timbre, keys, chords, loudness, musical composition, and more.


In Why We Love Music, John Powell's second book, he continues his exploration into the psychological and sociological aspects of our relationship with music. 

From the medical applications - very useful in understanding why a Medical Musician is effective in an Intensive Care Unit - to the Mozart Effect - which is real, but has nothing to do with Mozart. Dr. Powell examines why music is so important to us. 

Powell elucidates how music can cure insomnia, reduce pain and affect the taste of wine – among many other things about the ways in which music affects us.


Oliver Sacks, MD, FRCP, has written compassionate, compelling tales of people struggling to adapt to different neurological conditions have fundamentally changed the way we think of our own brains, and of the human experience. 

In MUSICOPHILIA, he examines the powers of music through the individual experiences of patients, musicians, and everyday people–from a man who is struck by lightning and suddenly inspired to become a pianist at the age of forty-two, to an entire group of children with Williams syndrome who are hypermusical from birth; from people with “amusia,” to whom a symphony sounds like the clattering of pots and pans, to a man whose memory spans only seven seconds–for everything but music. 

(Note: MMI co-founder and author of Waking the Spirit, Andrew Schulman, read MUSICOPHILIA a year before his surgery. It had a profound influence on him when he began his journey as a medical musician/author.)


Author Aniruddh D. Patel, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at Tufts University, has written the first comprehensive study of the relationship between music and language from the standpoint of cognitive neuroscience.

Scientific research on this topic has been growing rapidly, as scholars from diverse disciplines, including  linguistics, cognitive science, music cognition, and neuroscience are  drawn to the music-language interface as one way to explore the extent to which different mental abilities are processed by separate brain mechanisms. 

The relevant data and theories have been spread  across a range of disciplines. This volume provides the first synthesis, arguing that music and language share deep and critical  connections, and that comparative research provides a powerful way to study the cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying these uniquely  human abilities.

Aniruddh Patel was on a guest panel with Dr. Marvin McMillen and Andrew Schulman on the Diane Rehm radio show in August 2016, discussing the healing effect of music in critical care medicine and how music does this by activating the brain in a positive way.

Winner of the 2008 ASCAP Deems Taylor Award.