Updated: Feb 7
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The idea that sound can heal has been around for thousands of years, with music therapy being used by the ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Far Eastern peoples.  Research on this topic is only in the early stages. However, a variety of online and offline sound therapy offerings are available, and music therapy is used in certain clinical settings. What is the allure of Sound Therapy?
What is Sound Therapy?
Sound Therapy uses specialist instruments, sounds and music played in therapeutic ways alongside deep self-reflection techniques to improve wellness. This is a proven form of therapy that affects physiology, neurology and psychology.
Tonal and rhythmic instruments are used. Tonal instruments include Himalayan and Crystal singing bowls, gongs, and tuning forks. Vocal techniques are toning, overtoning, or mantra (chanting of Sanskrit words). Vocal Processing Techniques, a combination of movement, breath, visualisation, and voice, may also be used. A popular example is guided meditation.
Rhythmic instruments include frame drums, percussion-like rainsticks, shakers, chimes, and other tools used in a specific order to reinforce the process.
The use of the instruments and other elements of the treatment depends on individual symptomatic state and needs. Sound Therapy is effective in group or community work. 
What Does Sound Therapy Do?
Sounds regulate mood and arousal. It engages the neurochemical systems relating to (I) reward, motivation, and pleasure, (ii) stress and arousal, (iii) immunity and (iv) social affiliation.
It may be that the mechanism of action is due to embedded or ancillary factors such as distraction, mood induction, locus of control, and perceptual-cognitive stimulation. If so, other interventions like crossword puzzles and films may have similar effects. 
Sound Therapy works on the autonomic nervous system and can retrain the nervous system which can be beneficial for alleviating the harms of trauma. 
Binaural Beats can reduce pre-operative anxiety safely. 
Is Sound Healing Real?
Sound Healing is the same as Sound Therapy.
Therapeutically used sound with a sound therapist has been linked with improved health of premature babies, immune function and alleviating stress levels. Given that stress is linked to illnesses, sound healing is a viable form of treatment, especially with a licensed sound therapist. 
Ultrasound Therapy can be used for pain e.g. back pain. 
Sound Therapy and the Vagus Nerve
The Vagus Nerve is essential in regulating the parasympathetic nervous system. This system controls involuntary processes like digestion, heartbeat, respiration, etc. After responding to threat or stress, this system grants relaxation. This is called Vagus Response.  It is measured by Vagal Tone which is the variations in heart rate; a high tone is healthy as it means the heart relaxes better. 
The Vagus Nerve is near to the ear and descends to lower internal organs. Stimulating hearing via long and sustained sounds relax the body in many areas.
Via the Vagal Nerve, Sound Therapy can improve self-regulation and enable social engagement. This means a calm, present, and compassionate body and mind. 
Sound Therapy vs Music Therapy
Ancient Tibetan Cultural Practices
Use tools to create certain sound frequencies
Alleviate symptoms like stress and pain
Protocol/Training and Certifications
Not as standardised
Complementary or alternative medicine
Hospitals, Substance Abuse Treatment centres, Private practice
Table 1: Differences between Sound Therapy vs Music Therapy
How Sound Therapy Works
Sound Therapy’s association with deep relaxation and reduction of pain is explained by various theories.
One theory is based on vibration.  Sound has vibrational tactile effects on the whole body. It stimulates touch fibers that affect the perception of pain. A study of fibromyalgia patients found that sound therapy helped them reduce pain medication. 
Sound-based vibration can reduce pain from a variety of conditions, including arthritis, menstrual pain, postoperative pain, knee replacement pain. It may even improve mobility, reduce muscle pain and stiffness, increase blood circulation and decrease blood pressure.
Another theory is based on the binaural beats, or brain entrainment; brainwaves synchronise with specific frequencies and change their patterns. Brainwaves refer to electrical activity in the brain. Accordingly rhythmic and repetitive frequency rather than melodies may help.
Brainwaves can be categorised into 4 frequencies that arise from distinct states of alertness and consciousness in distinct areas. These range from beta which is most activity, to delta which is least activity.
Beta - Fastest; occur when brain is active and mentally engaged
Alpha - Occurs during non-arousal; e.g. when finished task, resting, or meditation
Theta - When Daydreaming or during Rapid Eye Movement phase of sleep. Also occurs when Driving on expressway or running for a long time. Associated with flow of ideas and creativity
Delta - Slowest; Occurs during deep dreamless sleep
How Ultrasound Therapy Works
Ultrasound pulses effect the tissues to cause vibration and cause neurons to oscillate (if targeted at the brain).
Sound Therapy Frequencies
Sound Frequencies between 1 and 30 Hz allegedly create the same brain wave patterns as the brain experiences during meditation. Brain waves synchronise to the frequency of sound waves. If there are two different frequencies, one in each ear, the brain will process them at the difference, called the binaural beat.
For Binaural Beat to work, the frequencies have to be below 1000 Hz and the difference between the two cannot be more than 30 Hz. But Binaural beats of 40 Hz allegedly help in improving learning and training.  Also, earbuds or headphones are recommended.
Ultrasound Therapy in physical therapy is used at 1MHz which is 1,000,000 Hz. 
Sound Therapy Tools
Tools for Sound Therapy are myriad, including voices. Audio recordings of sound can be used so you could access them from Youtube and Spotify for example.
Tibetan Singing Bowls
Crystal Singing Bowls
Ting-shas (Tiny cymbals)
Dorges (Bells) and other small bells
Didgeridoos - trumpet like wind instrument
For Ultrasound Therapy a probe or wand that works similar to microphones are used. 
What does Sound Therapy Treat?
Sound Therapy may also treat depression, anxiety, drug addiction, and neurological disorders like chronic pain and epilepsy.  It may also help with sleep. Patients with Fibromyalgia,  a disease that causes musculoskeletal pains, have found that Sound Therapy reduces their need for medications.
Tibetan Singing Bowl Sound Therapy can be used to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. 
Medical Professionals use Ultrasound Therapy to treat major conditions and diseases, including movement disorders and cancer. 
Sound Therapy for Anxiety
A study found that sound therapy reduces symptoms of anxiety immediately after the session. 
At home, Binaural beats are recommended to help reduce anxiety. However, it is not a traditional or clinical approach. It is not recommended for those with a history of seizures or heart issues, who wear a pacemaker, pregnant women, kids or those operating heavy machinery.  Anyone experiencing negative effects, e.g. headache, restlessness or boredom should stop immediately.
You may wish to read our article on anxiety.
Sound Therapy for Depression
Binaural beats are also recommended for depressive symptoms. The recommended frequencies are alpha, delta or theta. The same warning signs as in the previous section stand.
You may wish to read our article on depression.
Who can Benefit from Sound Therapy?
Anyone can benefit from Sound Therapy. It can help the average person to reduce stress, improve mood, relax, and sleep. In fact, many go to sleep daily listening to ASMR of all kinds.
You may wish to read our article on insomnia.
Individuals with chronic illness, stress or trauma may wish to consider Sound Therapy as part of a holistic approach to treatment. 
Types of Sound Therapy
1. Guided Meditation
2. Neurologic Music Therapy
Music Therapy is administered by a professional who caters it to each individual. It has proven to be more effective than prescription drugs for reducing anxiety during pre-surgery, as well as reducing pain (together with traditional care) after spine surgery.  It is even used for brain injuries. Besides listening, it can include creating, singing, and moving to music. 
3. Bonny Method
The Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music (GIM), uses classical imagery and music to aid personal growth, consciousness, and transformation.
This is for children with developmental delays (and their parents), learning difficulties, autism spectrum disorder, dementia, mental health issues and other conditions.
It requires completion of the Nordoff-Robbins 2 year Master’s Program. Graduates use music that is familiar to the patients, create new music with them and may even train to do a performance.
5. Tuning fork Therapy
Purportedly similar to acupuncture with regards to point stimulation. Instead of needles, there is calibrated metal tuning forks. This releases tension and energy. Emotions become balanced. It may also reduce muscle and bone pain. 
6. Brainwave entrainment/Binaural Beats
Uses pulsing sound to induce focus, trance-like state, relaxation and sleep. May reduce anxiety, pain, symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, and alleviate behavioural problems in children. 
7. Ultrasound Therapy
Ultrasound therapy helps in the following conditions: Osteoarthritis, Myofascial pain syndrome (muscle pain), Bursitis, Carpal tunnel syndrome, Pain caused by scar tissue, Phantom limb pain, Sprains and strains. 
An Ultrasound Machine sends electrical currents through crystals found in an ultrasound probe, or wand. The vibration of the probe sends waves through the skin into the body, and can be even targeted at deep tissue. 
Where Can I Find Sound Therapy in Singapore?
Most Sound Therapy services in Singapore are provided in studios that offer various other services. There are some private practitioners, who may also offer other services like yoga, and even combine yoga and sound therapy.  Both Online and Face-to-Face services are available.
Also, you could get Sound Therapy audio and video on online platforms, e.g Youtube, Spotify.
79 Anson Road
Level 21 & 22
27A, 30B/C Loewen Road
(Not in their other locations)
+65 6250 1222 (Anson)
+65 6974 3228
+65 8769 3235
2B Stanley Street
Starts from $50
167 Geylang Road #02-06/04
Great World City
ReDefine Wellness, 333B Beach Road. Level 3, SG 199563
228A South Bridge Rd, Singapore 058777
Starts from $18 (as of 23/01/22)
64A Prinsep Street, Singapore 188667
116 Changi Road WIS@Changi #03-08 Singapore 419718
160 Robinson Road, 04-12 SBF Centre, Singapore 94777533
Starts at $36
Starts from $160
Starts from $37
22 Euros for Album
How Much Does Sound Therapy Cost in Singapore?
Sound Therapy can be quite affordable, starting from below $50 for a substantial duration. You could also get it for free online in Youtube videos and Spotify tracks.
Sound Therapy Certification or Courses in Singapore
Sound Therapy Certification in Singapore is available in various studios, some of which are stated above. Some service providers provide training and workshops but no certifications. These could be a good beginner introduction to anyone who wishes to be certified.
1. Is Sound Therapy Expensive?
It is affordable with prices below $50. It could be found for free online in Youtube or Spotify and other such platforms.
2. Can Music Heal the Body?
Music Therapy is unlikely to heal the body. However, it may be used in pre and post surgery to alleviate pain. It can also be used in holistic approaches to treatment for a variety of conditions and provide some relief. However, research is in its infancy.
3. What is Sound Therapy For Tinnitus?
Sound Therapy could help to ‘forget’ Tinnitus.  Cognitive Behavioural Therapy seems to be the best for Tinnitus.
4. Can Sound Therapy Make Tinnitus Worse?
Yes, Unstructured White Noise may make it worse in long run. 
Sound Therapy can help to reduce stress and it may be considered as part of a holistic approach to wellness. While it is not a clinical approach (as of yet), it is offered by various wellness studios and instructors at affordable prices. Sound Therapy is even available for free on popular audio and video platforms.
While it is related, Music Therapy is different and maybe employed in hospitals and other clinical settings for certain procedures.
Not everyone will benefit from Sound Therapy and some may face drawbacks. However, sound in general, whether it comes from our mouths humming, or from birds chirping, can be relaxing. While it may seem minor, any form of stress relief is helpful as a form of self-care. High stress levels worsen health and wellness, and cures may be difficult to come by.
You may wish to read these articles on stress and happiness:
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About the Author
Faizi is a fresh marketing graduate who runs an Instagram page on Alexander the Great. His view on life is summarised by the book title, “Only Cry for the Living”, though he has not read the book. Spending much of his undergraduate years transitioning from a religious to secular life, he hopes for a better future for apostates and has given interviews to this end. For him, The Only Easy Day is not Yesterday, but Today, because Today is easier to get through than Yesterday or Tomorrow.
This editorial section solely expresses the opinion of frankie and is not endorsed nor commissioned by any external party. The list is non-exhaustive. At frankie, we believe that your best provider of medical advice is your doctor. Please consult a doctor before undergoing any treatment or procedure.
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