Studies and Testimonies

Willie Anderson King, University of Alabama-Huntsville
Scholarly Project Development, 2015

Music Therapy Outcomes for Dementia Residents in Long Term Care

The purpose of this scholarly project was to evaluate evidence-based outcomes of an applied music therapy protocol and how it positively affects residents with various forms of dementia. The fifteen participating residents had progressively lost their cognitive abilities and had developed disruptive behavior.  They were observed repeatedly crying, challenging staff, or wandering away from their designated living quarters.

The residents were played Heartbeat Lullabies (recordings of traditional nursery songs with an actual human heartbeat as the rhythm) for 30 minutes, twice a week for six weeks. A descriptive exploratory project with pre-observation and post-observation was used to evaluate behavior.


The outcomes of this project have the potential to dramatically decrease demented behavior and increase cognitive abilities, in a population of chronically ill residents, in long-term care facilities. Numerous local, state, and national healthcare locations can use the information and findings of this project to impact behaviors of healthcare recipients by implementing this therapeutic music tool and protocol. Numerous individuals having the diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s, including those family members or caregivers, have the potential to improve dementia behavior by playing the Heartbeat Lullabies recordings.

For any scholarly use of material in this dissertation, you may request a copy from the M. Louis Salman library, University of Alabama in Huntsville, or from the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies.

Bill Rider, President, American Combat Veterans of War. The Adult Lullaby Therapy recording, “Heartbeat Lullabies,” helped combat vets that ACVOW gave them to. We are now helping incarcerated veterans that have been arrested because of the trauma of Post-Traumatic Stress at the San Diego County Sheriff's jail. If you can spare some CDs and DVDs we will give it a go in the jail module. PLEASE feel free to use this as testimony that your program works!

Sherry Caine, Ph.D., a Clinical Psychologist in Austin, gave a copy of the Heartbeat Lullabies CD to her patients to play when they were in pain, anxious or needed sleep. Caine discovered those who suffered from either Insomnia, Anxiety, PTSD, Dementia, Alzheimer’s or Chronic pain were comforted by the power of the Heartbeat Lullabies to distract them from whatever was bothering them. Playing the heartbeat Lullabies dramatically reduced their anxiety, fear, stress, tension, anger and emotional and/or physical pain. Many of her patients were happy to have an alternative to adding something else for sleep to their already long list of meds.

Sandra Trehub, Professor Emeritus, and psychologist at the University of Toronto, has devoted her life to studying the musical ability of the human brain. The principal focus of her research is on the development of listening skills in infants and young children. Trehub was surprised to discover that repetitive lullabies are often songs that other people not just infants and children wish to hear over and over again. It's her theory that rather than becoming bored by the repetition, we tend to find comfort in the familiarity of these simple tunes.

Joseph Ruszkowski Music professor, University of Hawaii-Manoa Pilot study on aggressive Chimpanzees:

History and studies about Heartbeat Lullabies for infants and children
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