can music do harm?

Music Stimuli for Mindfulness Practice: A Replication Study

In hopes of furthering knowledge of music’s potential impacts on mindfulness, researchers from Arizona State University and the University of Iowa replicated a past study comparing effects of differing music stimuli on mindfulness experiences. (Researchers noted that study replications help to solidify intervention procedures and to broaden the evidence base for study outcomes.) In a review of related research, authors describe mindfulness as a process of neutrally attending to the current moment. Authors further explained potential mental health benefits of practicing mindfulness and highlighted how music can support the process. Hernandez-Ruiz and Dvorak (2020) exposed 53 college-aged participants to four aural stimuli of increasing complexity over the course of a 30-minute session. Stimuli included: reading of a mindfulness script, reading of a mindfulness script with a single, steady bass tone playing, reading of a mindfulness script with a bass tone and a chord progression playing, and reading of a mindfulness script with a bass tone, chord progression, and repeated melody playing. Participants subsequently completed a survey on their preferred condition, as well as their perceived impacts of each stimuli on their overall mindfulness experience. Outcomes from Hernandez-Ruiz and Dvorak (2020) revealed participants preferred the stimuli containing chords and melody and rated the conditions as more useful. Study results further showed that no one condition was more effective in promoting a mindfulness experience, with all four being rated as supportive on average.


Dvorak, A. L., & Hernandez-Ruiz, E. (2019b). Comparison of music stimuli to support mindfulness meditation. Psychology of Music. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/0305735619878497

Hernandez-Ruiz, E., & Dvorak, A. L. (2020). Music stimuli for mindfulness practice: A replication study. Journal of Music Therapy, 58(2), 155 176.