A Solution

Evidence-Based Recreational Music Making

Since 2009, Cincinnati Music & Wellness Coalition (CMWC) has offered two evidence-based recreational music making wellness programs to diverse populations. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the term recreational is derived from the Latin root, “recreatio,” which means “restoration to health.”

Recreational Music Making (RMM) has its roots from the early work of Karl T. Bruhn, the father of the Music-Making and Wellness movement, and scientific research from Barry Bittman, MD, neurologist, population health innovator, and pioneer in the field of mind-body medicine, whose studies were the first to demonstrate a link between playing music and the positive effects on one’s overall health—lowering stress, blood pressure, and heart rate.

Through his research, Dr Bittman determined that playing music within the context of a group in a pressure-free environment could reduce stress at the DNA level. His philosophy was that music making was for all people, According to Dr Bittman, "it’s about inspiring extraordinary living." The unique format of RMM is its emphasis on group-based activities.

An extensive series of eight peer-reviewed scientific publications on the Clavinova Connection and HealthRHYTHMS have documented statistically significant improvements in quality of life, including physical, emotional, and social benefits. The link between playing a musical instrument and stress impact is supported by eight published experimental investigations by Dr. Barry Bittman that utilized specific RMM protocols as effective bio-behavioral modulators.

Employee Stress

  • The study on long term care workers demonstrated a 46% improvement in mood disturbance (depression, anxiety, anger, tension, fatigue, hostility, vigor, and confusion), and 62% improvement 6 weeks post intervention
  • 18.3% reduction in employee turnover and improved overall employee retention.
    Published: Advances in Mind Body Medicine Fall/Winter 2003, Vol. 19, No. ¾

At-risk youth

  • This study documented utilization of the program as a catalyst for nonverbal and verbal disclosure leading to improved quality of life for inner-city youth in a court-referred residential treatment program
  • Results also suggested that the protocol could be utilized as a meaningful step toward enabling adolescents to build self-control, self-esteem, respect, empathy and tolerance for others.
    Published: Advances in Mind-Body Medicine Spring 2009, Vol. 24, No.1

First-Year Nursing Students

  • The study focused on group support and stress reduction. Burnout and mood dimensions were assessed with the Maslach Burnout Inventory and the Profile of Mood States respectively. Statistically significant reductions of multiple burnout and mood dimensions as well as TMD scores were noted
  • Potential annual cost savings for the typical associate degree nursing program ($16,800) and acute care hospital ($322,000) were projected by an independent economic analysis firm.
    Published: International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship Vol. 1 2004

Corporate Employees

  • A total of 20 volunteers participated in a one-hour RMM session while 20 volunteers engaged in leisurely reading for one hour (controls). After a six-month interval, the groups switched activities and underwent one session each. Pre- and post-intervention data were collected using mood state questionnaires and blood samples
  • RMM group demonstrated enhanced mood and lower levels of stress when compared to the control group.
    Published: Med Sci Monit 2007; 13(2):CR57-70

Older Adults

  • A study conducted at two continuing care retirement communities showed that Recreational Music Making (RMM) reverses the biological responses at the DNA level that can lead to the development of a host of common diseases. Research showed 19 of 45 gene markers reversed when individuals engaged in Clavinova Connection in contrast to 6 of 45 gene markers reversed when individuals relaxed and read newspapers and/or magazines.
    Published: Med Sci Monit 2005; 11(2):BR31-40

Patients with Coronary Heart Disease

  • A study conducted at Walter Reed Military Medical Center documented Recreational Music Making (RMM) as a mode of stress reduction following stress induction was more effective at altering the expression of molecular pathways than quiet reading. In participants randomized to RMM, 12 pathways showed significant dysregulation, compared to only two pathways in participants randomized to quiet reading.
    Published: Medical Science Monitor 2013 Feb 25; 19:139-47, doi: 10.12659/MSM.883807

Retention, Engagement, and Positive Health Outcomes for African Americans

  • This study conducted at a Baptist Church in Pittsburgh, PA, showed that the addition of a gospel music program as a catalyst for increase engagement in a sustainable, healthy lifestyle program demonstrated a statistically significant 83.3% retention rate during a 1-year period compared with only 54.3% for the control group. Only 6 participants dropped out of the intervention group in sharp contrast to 16 dropouts in the control group
    Published: Advances, Winter 2020, Vol. 34, No.1

Group Drumming and the Human Genome

  • Natural Killer (NK) cell activity was significantly boosted in subjects who drummed compared to controls. Natural killer cells seek out and destroy cancer and virally infected cells in the body
    Published: Alternative Therapy Health Med. 2001;7(1):38-47

Program Benefits:

  • Reduces Stress
  • Reduces depression, anger & anxiety
  • Improves Communication
  • Improves Team-building
  • Reduces Turnover
  • Increases self-esteem
  • Increases social interaction
  • Builds camaraderie

Populations Served:

  • Children
  • At-risk youth
  • Caregivers
  • Older adults
  • Veterans
  • Individual in mental health recovery
  • Substance abuse disorders
  • Immigrants/refugees
  • Employee wellness groups