Violin Lessons Strike a Chord With Alzheimer’s Patients

Patients with Alzheimer’s disease with otherwise limited cognitive function who had never before played the violin showed the potential not just to learn to play the instrument, but demonstrated improvements in mood and neuropsychiatric function in relation to the learning of the skill, according to a poster presentation here at the American Medical Student Association 62nd Annual Convention.

The research was a small study involving 15 patients, but it represents an intriguing addition to the body of evidence on the potential benefits of music therapy for people with Alzheimer’s disease.

For the study, William Kang, a third-year medical student at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, divided a cohort of 15 patients with Alzheimer’s disease into 2 groups: a control group of 7 patients who received biweekly sessions of “passive” music therapy, involving only listening to violin music; and an intervention group of 8 patients who received biweekly sessions of instructional violin lessons in addition to the passive music therapy.