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What is Sound Therapy? A Guide to Using Percussion for Healing

20/06/2024

Listening to music is a great way to switch off and unwind… but what if you took it a step further and used sounds designed specifically for this purpose? Sound therapy is one of the leading methods of relaxation, meditation, and healing, and many people find it extremely beneficial in improving mental health and well-being.

If you’re stressed, anxious, or just want to take a bit of time for yourself, the resonances and tones that are used in sound therapy (i.e., chimes, singing bowls, etc) can help soothe you and reduce those tense feelings. It may not be enough to alleviate stress completely, but it can certainly go a long way in helping you become more mindful and relaxed.

So, what is sound therapy? In this article, we’ll look at what exactly it is, how it’s used, and its benefits.

Key takeaways

  • Sound therapy uses music, sounds, and vibrations to improve physical and mental health
  • It utilises specific frequencies and vibrations to influence the body’s energy fields
  • The different instruments used include drums, singing bowls, gongs, and chimes
  • Sound therapy can reduce stress levels, enhance mood, improve focus, help pain management, and promote better sleep
  • It’s an ancient practice with roots in Ancient Greece, Tibet, and Aboriginal Australia

What is sound therapy?

Sound therapy has been around for decades, with the first forms originating in Ancient Greece, Tibet, and Aboriginal Australia. In the 1950s, British osteopath Sir Peter Guy Manners invented the first machine to produce sound vibrations for healing. Since then, sound therapy has come a long way, with it now being used to minimise stress, promote relaxation, and improve mental health significantly.

So, how does sound therapy work? Through the form of various percussive instruments such as handpans, chimes, tongue drums, gongs, and many more, sound therapy uses sound vibrations at specific frequencies (all within the human hearing range) that vibrate through you to relieve stress and induce relaxation.

One common practice is sound baths, where you’re immersed in sound waves from various sound therapy-focused instruments, such as singing bowls. Other methods include vibrational therapy, which uses certain frequencies to target different health issues, and vocal toning, where you produce sounds with your voice to promote meditative effects.

Sound therapy is not just about listening. It’s an immersive experience that involves feeling the vibrations and engaging with the sounds. This practice is gaining more and more recognition as an effective and easy-to-master therapy, often used alongside conventional medical treatments to improve overall health.

Meinl Sonic Energy Tongue Drum

Types of sound therapy

Music therapy

This type of therapy uses music to address mental health issues. Therapists use musical activities, such as listening, playing instruments, or composing, to help individuals manage stress, improve mood, and enhance cognitive function. It’s widely used in settings like hospitals, schools, and rehabilitation centres.


Binaural beats

This method uses two slightly different frequencies played in each ear to create a perception of a third tone. The brain synchronises with the beat, which can induce relaxation, focus, and sleep. It’s a simple yet effective way to influence brainwaves and enhance mental states.


Tuning fork therapy

Tuning forks are used to emit specific frequencies that resonate with different parts of the body. These vibrations can help relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and promote emotional balance. It’s a precise method often used in holistic healing practices.


Sound baths

A sound bath is a method in which you’re immersed in sounds from various instruments like singing bowls, chimes, and gongs. This all-encompassing experience helps to reduce stress and induce deep relaxation. The vibrations are believed to cleanse and balance the body’s energy fields.


Gong therapy

Also known as gong baths, this therapy uses nothing but gongs. The powerful vibrations and rich tones produced by them create a meditative state and can reduce stress.

How does sound healing work?

Sound healing works by using vibrations and frequencies to promote physical and emotional well-being. The process relies on the concept that different frequencies can influence brainwave states. For example, Gamma waves are linked to high-level cognitive functioning, Beta waves to active thinking, Alpha waves to relaxation, Theta waves to meditation, and Delta waves to deep sleep.

Sound therapy aims to guide the brain into these states, enhancing mental and physical health. Although this all sounds very complex, utilising sound healing is actually very simple.

Each instrument in sound therapy is attuned to specific body parts, chakras, or emotions. Singing bowls, tuning forks, and gongs produce vibrations that resonate with the body’s energy fields, helping to realign cells to their proper frequencies. This realignment can reduce stress, alleviate pain, and promote healing.

Gold Meinl singing bowls

Benefits of sound therapy

There are numerous benefits of sound therapy, particularly for stress relief and overall mental well-being. Research has shown that sound healing can significantly reduce anxiety and improve mood. For example, a study published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine found that participants who experienced sound therapy reported decreased tension and improved emotional balance.

The soothing nature of sound therapy makes it an excellent form of self-care. And it’s extremely accessible! Whether you listen to calming tones on a music streaming app or engage with sound baths, even the smallest forms of sound therapy can promote relaxation. These practices can be easily incorporated into daily routines, providing a simple yet effective way to manage stress.

Instruments used for sound therapy

Handpans

Handpans are steel drums played with your hands. They’re both melodic and percussive, and their soothing tones are ideal for meditation and stress relief. Handpans are tuned to specific scales, allowing for intuitive playing that can create a tranquil, calming atmosphere.

The Sela Melody D Kurd Handpan and the Gear4music D Kurd Handpan are classic examples of a handpan that produces relaxing tones perfect for spiritual activities.

Gear4music handpan


Tongue drums

Tongue drums, made from metal or wood, have slits or “tongues” that produce different notes when struck. Their mellow, resonant sounds are perfect for relaxation and grounding practices. Plus, they’re easy to play, making them accessible for beginners.

The Meinl Steel Tongue Drum provides a rich and full-bodied sound and comes with beaters and a bag, making it the ideal tongue drum for anyone to get into sound therapy.

Meinl Steel Tongue Drum, Black, A-MINOR


Chimes

Chimes produce gentle, tinkling sounds when struck or moved by the wind. They’re often used in sound baths and healing sessions to clear energy and create a peaceful atmosphere. Chimes come in various materials and designs, including metal and bamboo, each offering distinct tones.

The Meinl Flower Of Life, Energy Chime is the perfect handheld chime for meditation and sound therapy. Designed in Thailand, it is tuned to C7 producing a vibrant, sustained tone with a simple strike.

Meinl Flower Of Life, Energy Chime


Gongs

Gongs create powerful, resonant vibrations that are great if you want to induce deep relaxation. The rich, complex tones of gongs make them a staple in many sound healing practices.

The Gong by Gear4music gives a splash effect with a calming, soft shimmer that is ideal for relaxation.

Gong by Gear4music


Crystal singing bowls

Crystal singing bowls, such as the Meinl Sonic Energy Crystal Singing Bowl Chakra Set, made from quartz crystal, emit pure, resonant tones. They’re often used to clear chakras and enhance meditation. The high-frequency vibrations of crystal bowls can help to elevate consciousness and promote spiritual growth.

Meinl Sonic Energy Crystal Singing Bowl Chakra Set

FAQs

What is sound therapy and how does it work?

Sound therapy uses sound frequencies to improve mental and physical health. It works by using specific tones, vibrations, and rhythms to stimulate healing processes in the body. These sounds can help reduce stress, promote relaxation, and enhance overall well-being.


What happens during a sound healing session?

During a sound healing session, you experience therapeutic sounds and vibrations. Practitioners use instruments like gongs, singing bowls, and tuning forks to create resonant sounds which aim to balance the body’s energy, reduce stress, and promote deep relaxation.


Is sound therapy proven?

Sound therapy has been shown to have beneficial effects, though more research is needed. Some studies suggest it can reduce stress and improve well-being. While evidence supports its positive impacts, the field is still evolving, and further scientific validation is ongoing.

Final thoughts

Sound therapy is a fascinating field, and there are many instruments out there that are designed to do more than just sound beautiful, they’re also designed to reduce stress and instil a sense of calm and relaxation.

Whether it’s a sound bath or just listening to the soothing tones of chimes and gongs, we hope we’ve shown you a sound therapy practice that works for you. Let us know in the comments if you’ve noticed the benefits!

 

Joe is an enthusiastic drummer who has been drumming for 12 years. He plays Heavy Metal and Djent on drums and also plays some electric guitar in his spare time.

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