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A serving of classical music a day can keep the doctor away

Suffering from migraine? Or is insomnia turning your life into a living nightmare? A dose of Mozart might help.

Scientific evidence has proven how music can alleviate symptoms of cancer, fight depression and help with pain management. Dr Arun Kumar Sharma, specialist neurologist at Medeor 24×7 Hospital in Dubai, explains that classical music is therapeutic and can have positive effects on medical outcomes and wellbeing.

He says: “Music therapy is a vital engine to healing headaches, epileptic seizures and cognitive disorders. Dr Frances Rauscher studied children with mental disabilities and he found that after making them listen to Mozart, their IQ increased by eight to 10 points. Of course the effect is only short lasting, but it gave an impetus for the research.”

According to the Cancer Research UK, patients use music to help cope with side effects of the disease. A Stanford University study, meanwhile, shows those diagnosed with depression saw improvement in mood and self-esteem after listening to soothing sounds.

Dr Sharma says it also helps in his practice: “We listen to music pre-surgery and while operating, like cello while doing endoscopy. I’ve been listening to Abu Dhabi Classic FM in my car for the past 10 years.”

But what about pop and rock tunes? Well, he says, all music is good: “It’s like a universal language. However, most of the research has been done on classical, and it really is the fountainhead of genres. Pop stemmed from jazz, and jazz stemmed from classics.”

We don’t have an established music therapy programme in the UAE yet, but he says an “introduction to good music or exploring YouTube” is a good start.


Dr Sharma says music helps the brain release dopamine, the feel-good chemical, which promotes the healthy functioning of the central nervous system. “In turn it has an impact on emotion, perception and movement. It can help lift your mood and calm anxiety.” Obviously, avoid any melancholy music. Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony can be uplifting. Antonin Dvorak Symphony No 9 and even some of the Richard Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries could make you get up and go.


The Mozart Effect indicates listening to the composer’s compositions can help in the performance of different mental tasks. Dr Sharma recommends the The Sonata for Two Pianos (K 448) to help students concentrate. “Of course every one has different musical taste and aptitude, it all depends on the child. “Parents must get to know their child and their musical inclination, maybe he likes Chariots of Fire. After school, just to wind them down, play some The Blue Danube by Johann Strauss.”


Pregnant women are quite stressed and have high level of cortisol (steroid hormone) in their body that can negatively affect the baby. Listening to Bach, Beethoven and Mozart can help with that too. “Foetuses that have been exposed to classical music during their stay in the womb showed positive response in their learning curve when they listen to the same music again as infants,” says Dr Sharma. “It also increases mother-child bonding, and linguistic skills have found to be better in children exposed to classical music.”


Different music is recommended for different times. “In the morning you can play Edvard Grieg’s Morning Mood. It’s a very soothing tune and kind of slowly wakes the baby up.” And for bedtime, the popular Johannes Brahms’ Lullaby is still the classic best.

Dr Sharma believes the recently opened Dubai Opera is a new beginning for music appreciation in the UAE. “The venue will be inviting world famous musicians, pioneers of classical music, wonderful artists and orchestras. I’m sure it is path-breaking for us and an introduction to real culture,” he says.

“For most of residents here, this is ‘new music’ because they grew up listening only to pop or rock or alternative. Ironically, opera music is centuries old.

“If children are allowed at the Opera, then that’s good. If not, at least the grown-ups can go and introduce themselves to it and pass it on to the younger generation.”

Dr Sharma adds that it’s ideal to take children back to the roots of music to also improve their knowledge of instruments, harmony and the arts.

Glaiza Godinez ,,