Send Me a Song

Discover the power of positive music

Rae Lee Cooper is a registered nurse. She and her husband, Lowell, have two adult married children and three adorable grandchildren. She spent most of her childhood in the Far East and then worked as a missionary with her husband in India for 16 years. She enjoys music, creative arts, cooking, and reading.

It was early—about 30 minutes before school was scheduled to start. Some of my students had already arrived and were outside kicking a ball around the playground.

Suddenly Jimmy* burst into the classroom, a typical arrival habit of his. Only this time, instead of dropping his books off at his desk and dashing outside, he paused by my desk.

“Teacher, could we please sing for worship that song about the bird—you know, the one that fell?”

“Oh,” I replied, “you mean the song ‘He Loves Me Too,’ about how God loves and cares about even little sparrows?”

“Yes,” he replied. “That’s the one. My parrot died last night.”

My heart is touched even now years later when I think of Jimmy, a 10-year-old Swedish boy who joined our church-school classroom of multigrade missionary children in India. He was such a bright, outgoing student and easily made friends with all of us while quickly becoming fluent in English, a new language for him. He came from a nonreligious environment but really seemed to enjoy our morning worship programs of songs and Bible stories. We all knew by Jimmy’s daily reports how much that parrot had meant to him. That he asked for this particular song was evidence of his hurting heart and how he looked forward to comfort in the simple words and melody.


Scientists are discovering more and more how interrelated the role of music is to our health, functionality, and happiness. Music has a definite effect on our brains. Listening to music can heighten positive emotions, resulting in hits of dopamine and the release of endorphins within the brain, which makes us feel good. It has been found to be effective as a treatment in health care or as an aid in boosting the immune system. It has great potential as a cheap, natural medicine without the potential side effects of many pharmaceutical products.

Music can impact our health and well-being in the following ways:

1. Music provides comfort.

“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness,” said Maya Angelou, an American poet and civil rights activist. There is encouragement and healing for the mind and soul in inspirational music. Jimmy, in his sadness over the loss of his pet, was drawn to a song of comfort. King Saul was calmed and soothed by the sweet music of David’s harp.

Yet not just any style of music works in this way. Studies have shown that meditative and classical music can elevate the mood, whereas techno and heavy metal music can cause agitation and depression.

2. Music makes you smarter.

Research shows that taking music lessons contributes to better academic performance, even raising a student’s IQ. Children and adults (especially senior adults) all benefit with better memory retention and improved intelligence through the study of music.


When life’s journey brings pain and sorrow,

With no hope for a better tomorrow,

When the nights are dark and long,

Lord, send me a song.


Some days can be sunny and right,

With everything promising and bright.

Even when moments slip pleasantly along,

Lord, send me a song.


Your songs, dear Lord, bring healing and love.

You draw my heart and thoughts to things above.

Your calming assurance makes my faith strong.

So Lord, please send me a song.

—Rae Lee Cooper

3. Music improves verbal skills.

Researchers found that after only one month of music study, children between the ages of 4 and 6 showed a remarkable increase in verbal intelligence. It is thought that music training has a transfer effect, which aids in the ability to understand words and their meaning better.

4. Music helps you sleep.

Just as singing a lullaby to an infant helps relax and lull the baby to sleep, so studies indicate that only 45 minutes of relaxing music before bedtime can contribute to a restful night’s sleep by reducing sympathetic nervous system activity, as well as decreasing anxiety, blood pressure, and heart and respiratory rates.

5. Music improves your exercise routine.

Listening to inspiring music while running, walking, or otherwise engaging in an exercise routine can reduce the feeling of fatigue, improve motor coordination, and promote a physiological relaxation response. Best of all, music can help make exercise feel more like fun and less like work.

6. Music helps you eat less.

We tend to eat more when “on the run” or grabbing a snack here and there. We hardly have time to taste what we are eating. With this habit, food is not chewed adequately, making extra work and stress for the digestive track. Taking the time to sit down to a planned, nutritious meal in a pleasant atmosphere with relaxing music playing will result in a person’s consuming fewer calories with increased enjoyment.

7. Music makes you a better driver.

Commuting to and from work in heavy traffic can take a toll on one’s stress level. Heart rate and blood pressure can both become elevated. Anger and frustration can lead to distraction and unsafe driving. Listening to calming music while driving can positively impact one’s mood. Remember, good music affects the releasing of dopamine within the brain, which brings calmness, improved mood, and even safer driving.

8. Music helps with healing.

Some effective uses of music therapy in health care include:

• Stroke recovery patients who listen to music containing a combination of lyrics and music show improvement in both auditory and verbal memory.

• Relaxing music before surgery can decrease a patient’s anxiety level, and in most cases is the treatment of choice as opposed to anti-anxiety medications with their potential negative side effects.

• Listening to soothing music helps most post-open-heart surgery patients relax, thus decreasing anxiety and stress while the heart and body are healing.

• Soothing music can be an effective means of lowering blood pressure.

• Music can help Alzheimer’s patients remember. By listening to their favorite songs, patients can often experience an awakening of memory caused by the stimulation of neurological pathways that may still be functional.

• Music therapy has been used successfully to decrease fatigue and depression.

• Music can reduce pain in cancer patients, intensive care patients, geriatric care patients, and those suffering from migraine and chronic headaches. However, music was shown to be most effective if it was of a classical or meditative style.


God sees the little sparrow fall,

It meets His tender view;

If God so loves the little birds,

I know He loves me too.


He loves me too,

He loves me too,

I know He loves me too.

Because He loves the little things,

I know He loves me too.

—Maria Straub

9. Music brings people together.

Music is almost always a feature when people gather together—whether in celebration, in worship, in social settings, or in time of sorrow. It helps participants embrace the moment, confirm a connection, and bond together in affirmation, emotion, and friendship.


Not all types and styles of music are healing and uplifting. Music played at a high volume can be distracting and even damaging to the ears and the nervous system. It can cause a rise in blood pressure and heart rate. Discordant, highly syncopated rhythms do not match the body’s natural rhythm and over time can negatively affect the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system. Generally, classical and meditative music have the most beneficial effects overall.

Music is an art, a pleasure, and a medicine for body and soul. As we have seen, its potential uses and benefits are many. We are wired for music by a loving Creator, who provides amazing gifts in this life to help us “prosper and be in health” (3 John 1:2).

*Name has been changed.


The Lost Art of Thinking, Neil Nedley, M.D., Nedley Publishing, Chapter 19

Rae Lee Cooper is a registered nurse. She and her husband, Lowell, have two adult married children and three adorable grandchildren. She spent most of her childhood in the Far East and then worked as a missionary with her husband in India for 16 years. She enjoys music, creative arts, cooking, and reading.