Violin Proves Pleasant for Ailing Veterans

There’s a great deal of research to suggest that listening to music, particularly music that is recognized and enjoyed, can excite the pleasure centers of the brain, resulting in pleasing experiences. Though it has recently been suggested that people experiencing feelings of depression and similar mental health concerns are closed off to the pleasurable effects of music, most people, in the presence of a favorite song, will notice a rise in mood. Such a rise can be of great importance to those in difficult physical and mental health situations, and a particularly talented nurse in Tennessee is helping this musical boost become big news.

Nurse Lori Sykes, who works with the Memphis Veterans Medical Center, has been playing the violin since the age of three, and now brings her instrument with her to work each day in case any of her clients request a song or two. While Sykes and her violin aren’t part of any study researching the connections between the music and the rates of recovery or improvement of overall mental well-being, the nurse, her clients, and her clients’ families note that the changes in mood and peace of mind are clearly visible.

The musical treatment comes at a time when many questions are being raised about the ability of the Veterans Association to provide quality care for service men and women in their times of need. Difficulties in securing proper care, tangles of baffling paperwork, legal battles over attorney representation in disputes, and a host of other issues such an inadequate responses to rising reports of difficulties with stress upon returning home have cast a negative light on health care providers for veterans. Yet Sykes and those like her, interested in treating not only the overt medical issues of clients, but in uplifting and supporting their mental health as well, may yet prove that there is still a lot of heart in the effort to care for the country’s veterans.

© Copyright 2009 by By John Smith. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • LaScala

    September 21st, 2009 at 9:32 AM

    What a selfless act on that nurse’s part to share her talent with the veterans. That’s true giving right there.

  • Lincoln

    September 21st, 2009 at 10:04 AM

    My own experience says music is good for getting us into a good mood and relaxing us. The right kind of music can have a very calming effect on any person, especially so if the person is affected by ailments.

  • Dionne S.

    September 21st, 2009 at 2:19 PM

    Give that nurse a pay rise! The Medical Center is extremely lucky to have her. I hope she gets as much pleasure out of giving of herself as the listeners do.

  • Elizabeth R.

    September 22nd, 2009 at 1:05 PM

    I’m surprised to read the suggestion that music doesn’t reach people when they are depressed. That doesn’t concur with my personal experience. When I went through depression I was more sensitive to the emotionality of song lyrics, especially the sad songs. I had to make the effort to not listen to them and choose more upbeat music. I must be an exception!

  • Lori Sykes

    June 8th, 2013 at 8:51 PM

    Elizabeth R., You are right on target. Music is powerful. We have to be careful of the music we allow inside of our ears. “We are what we eat ” (listen to, watch on TV,etc.), right? :-)

  • Evelyn

    September 23rd, 2009 at 10:59 PM

    Healing is definitely from within and without. The pleasant strains of a violin are definitely a great way of welcoming harmony and healing in one’s soul.

  • Herb W. Jones

    December 19th, 2009 at 5:28 PM

    I am playing violin as a volunteer at our local hospital, in the oncology departments – including hospice care.

    I’d like to get ideas (or actual music) from Ms. Sykes, or others who do this type of therapy.

    Thank you, and have a blessed Christmas.

  • Lori Sykes

    June 8th, 2013 at 8:45 PM

    Herb Jones, I enjoy playing soothing hymns & songs that remind them that despite what they’re experiencing, they are not alone. God is with us. I also play songs of celebration like “happy birthday” and Christmas chorals/hymns. Always consider the patient’s mood or mental state when choosing your songs.

  • Lori Sykes

    June 10th, 2011 at 8:23 AM

    Thank you for all of your kind words. God has commissioned each of us to use whatever gifts that we have to convalesce our fellow man. I hope that this encourages each of you to do just the same.

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