March 2007

Why would you want music during surgery?

As I travel the country talking with people about the importance of music during surgery,
there is one question that arises over and over. The question is a good one: why would you want music during surgery if you're going to be asleep?

Very logical question and luckily, the answer is very logical too. Music during surgery is not about entertainment; it is not about soothing a person or even comforting them. The whole point of using music during surgery is to relax the body so that less anesthesia is needed.

Secondarily, when you have music coming through headphones, the music enters the brain through the eighth cranial nerve and entrains or synchronizes the heartbeat and breathing with the tempo of the music. For this reason, you want to choose music with the tempo of the healthy resting heartbeat. You also want to choose music that is purely instrumental, i.e., nothing with lyrics.

The third and final reason to use music through head-phones during surgery is to block out comments and conversation of the medical staff that might be negative or pessimistic and influence you subconsciously.

I have created a two-tape set of music for surgery which includes an interview with me on how to talk to you surgeon and anesthesiologist about this before the surgery.
You can find these tapes on my website,

Tomorrow my mother is going into a serious surgery and I ask you all to keep us in your thoughts and prayers. Hope to hear from you all with questions and comments.

Have a great week and keep the music playing!


Alice H. Cash, Ph.D., LCSW



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