Hello Friends,

Voice of Life is seeking funding for a scientific research project. We need to raise $20,000 in donations and other grant funds to get started. Details of the study are outlined here.

Please use the donate button on the Voice of Life website or contact us using the information provided below.

Be well,
Peter Wolff
Health Research Director


Administrative contact and Principle Investigator:
Peter Wolff
PO Box 423297
San Francisco, CA 94142
(323) 393-0322

Project Name:
The effects of self-vocalizing with recorded music 
to trigger relaxation response and balance the autonomic nervous system

Music is an emotional experience and may facilitate a physiological healing state. The underlying function and goal of mind-body interventions is to reduce sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activation and increase parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) activity. If the SNS stress response remains in overdrive, the corresponding increased cortisol levels have detrimental effects to immune response. When the parasympathetic nervous system is activated during rest and recovery, enhanced immune function facilitates a return to homeostasis. Many studies document the wellness benefits of the relaxation response for stress related health problems (i.e insomnia, headaches, cardiovascular disorders). This study proposes to measure the cortisol levels and heart rate variability of subjects participating in a self-care practice of vocalizing with music. Using biometric and psychological measures of stress, the study contributes to an existing body of research, and evaluates the effectiveness of vocalizing with music as a mind-body intervention.


Research Question:
For over twenty years, hundreds of peer-reviewed studies have shown that mind-body interventions, such as mindfulness meditation and energy medicine, are clinically effective in treating health problems caused by stress. “Stress [...] causes a shift from the cardioprotective effects of the parasympathetic predominance to massive cardiac sympathetic activation” (Saloman etal, 2003). It is believed that the negative effects of stress are mitigated by the relaxation response, which reduces sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activation and increases parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) activity (Jacobs, 2001). These studies may provide useful correlations to understand the healing power of sound, specifically vocalizing with music. Limited research is available that uses biological markers to investigate active participation with music (humming, toning, chanting, singing) as an effective mind-body intervention. Therefore this research proposal asks the question – is vocalizing with music an effective mind-body intervention to induce the relaxation response and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system?

Purpose of the Study:
The purpose of the study is to investigate how a regular self-care practice of vocalizing with music impacts stress levels and emotional states over a two-month period. Physiological measures, including heart-rate variability and cortisol levels, will be used to assess the health intervention. Additionally, an opinion survey will be used to collect psychological data before and after the experiment.

Impact/Application of Research
This study evaluates the effect of an individual practice of vocalizing with music on a healthy population. Existing studies have examined the effects of vocalizing (humming, toning, chanting) without music, while others have looked at the effects of group singing. Little is known about the physiological response to a self-care practice of vocalizing with music on a regular basis. The goal of this study is to conduct high quality, evidence-based research to determine if sound healing, specifically vocalizing with music, is a useful mind-body intervention that reduces stress and activates the parasympathetic nervous system. As a complementary therapy, sound healing can be used at low cost by patients to prevent disease, provide comfort and relaxation, and to aid in the healing process. While sound healing is gaining more acceptance as a healing modality, more evidence-based research is needed to move it into the field of integrative medicine. Follow-up research may study the effects of vocalizing with music on populations that are suffering from low quality of life or healing from disease.

The study also investigates the application of personal audio technology, such as mp3 players and smartphones, as an enabling sound healing tool. The ubiquity of music and the fast-growing consumer market for smartphones have the potential to transform personal communications technology into sound healing “medical” technology. This study sets the groundwork for further research that determines how and where people may prefer to participate with recorded music for health and wellness.

Jacobs, G. (2001). Clinical applications of the relaxation response and mind-body interventions. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Volume 7, Supplement 1, pp.S-93-S-101.

Salamon, E., Kim, M., Beaulieu, J., Stefano, G. (2003). Sound therapy induced relaxation: down regulating stress processes and pathologies. Medical Science Monitor 2003. 9(5): RA96-RA101