A Perfect Symphony of Music and Medicine

The White Coat Project, June 2021

A Perfect Symphony of Music and Medicine by Dr. Tara Rajendran

“During my stint as a visiting international medical student at Harvard, Stanford, and Cornell,

I marvelled at how brilliantly they have ingrained music into their healthcare infrastructure.

There is instrumental music therapy played passively in the patient waiting areas,

chemotherapy rooms, and operation theatres. I lament how we, in India, have massively

underused the potential of our extensive repertoire of indigenous music like classical music,

folk, Indian feature film playbacks and devotional music in medicine. Recently the United

States completed 60 years of introducing music therapy into their academic curriculum and

we are not even close. 

Speaking of music therapy, I realised India has two major deficiencies to be filled in this

field. One, the current published studies are not with musical interventions tailored to the

Indian subcontinent. Two, India lacks an academic music therapy training curriculum and

hence we lack the possibility of an NMC accredited or certified music therapist. Peer-

reviewed randomised controlled trials ought to be done on music therapy as RCTs are

considered to be a very effective and scientifically rigorous tool to assess the effectiveness of

music therapy with the least possible bias! 

For this very reason I founded ‘Oncology and Strings’ in 2019. My preliminary objective

from this advocacy lecture-concert programmes is to reach out to medical students,

oncologists, and pain and palliative care physicians in India and make them recognize the

deficiencies and how we could effectively contribute to making a difference through the

the ability of music to lessen anxiety and mood disturbance, ease pain and prevent physician

burnout. Medical students can now work on clinical trials under the guidance of oncologists

and create more evidence/RCTs using musical interventions suited for the Indian population.

That is the reason why ‘Oncology and Strings’ aims to address pain and palliative care

physicians, whilst including the future of medicine: medical students, because they have the

real power to incorporate music at an organisational level.”

By: Dr. Tara Rajendran, M.B.B.S., M.F.A. 

Instagram Tag: @tara_rajendran

Twitter Tag: @TaraRajendran

LinkedIn Tag: Tara Rajendra, MBBS, MFA

Editor: Sharon Gracia Glenn

Instagram Tag: @sharonincrisis

Twitter Tag: @glennincrisis

LinkedIn Tag: Sharon Gracia Glenn

Story produced and edited by Sharon Gracia Glenn.

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