What is the Best Music for Massage Therapy?

What is the Best Music for Massage Therapy?


If you’re taking the time to read this article, there is a pretty good chance of two different possibilities: Either you’re a licensed massage therapist (or someone looking to get into the practice), or, someone who appreciates the tranquility and healing power of a quality massage experience. And, using the word ‘experience’ is important as we move forward with the subject of finding the best music for massage therapy.

Thinking of massage therapy as an experience, rather than ‘just a massage’ changes the way our minds and bodies react to it. Anyone can give a massage. You could probably turn to a loved one and ask them to rub your back right now, and they’d likely oblige. But, thinking about massage therapy for what it really is – a healing process, we can better understand and appreciate the experience as a whole.

This experience, each and every time, should include everything from the brightness of the room, to different smells and sights, and of course, sounds. Imagine walking into a massage therapy session, only to be met with complete silence. This may make for an awkward situation, not always, but there is a good chance you wouldn’t appreciate the full experience nor be able to fully tap into the healing process. Unfortunately, that could result in leaving the session feeling stressed, or at the very least, unsatisfied.

We don’t often realize the healing power that music has in our lives, especially when it’s designed to complement a treatment that is also designed for relaxation and healing. So, whether you’re a massage therapist already, looking for the best suggestions in music for your clients, or someone who wants to make sure you’re appreciating the music surrounding you during your next session, let’s take a closer look at the best types of music for massage therapy. Not only that, but we’ll dive into what people expect from a massage, and how music plays a large role in all of it.

What Do People Expect From a Massage Therapy Experience?

Massage therapy is typically designed as a way to take better control of your overall health and wellbeing. People who usually attend regular sessions understand both the mechanical and relaxation responses that come with the experience.

Massage helps to improve circulation, relax muscle tissue, and can help with the overall functions of your organs and muscles. The body responds to a quality massage in involuntary, and relaxing ways, though almost all are a form of relaxation in some way. There is an actual physical reaction that occurs when touch and pressure are applied to our muscle tissue. Our nervous system also responds, and so many things happen within the body that we may not even be aware of.

During a massage, we breathe deeper, we allow ourselves to loosen up, and as a result of the circulation improvements, our blood flow is increased, often resulting in a burst of endorphins or chemicals equated to happiness.

But, as stated above, what people expect to happen as a part of these reactions goes far beyond the touch itself. Soothing massage music is a major part of the experience, as a whole. Setting the mood for our body’s physical and involuntary reactions means more than pressing the right pressure points. It means setting up an environment where every client can take full advantage of the reactions our bodies want to have.

It’s important to understand that music does much more than create a pleasant atmosphere or just adds ambiance. Music itself, when administered the right way (through the right selections) can be a huge healing factor. Massage therapy is designed to heal and help, and music goes hand in hand with the healing process, within just the first five minutes or so of a massage. With the right music in mind, a massage client can fully allow themselves to fall deeper into a healing state.

Benefits of Healing Music

There are so many factors to consider when it comes to utilizing music as a healing power on its own. Think about the last time you were in a great mood – what was your ‘go to’ song to boost yourself up even more? Or, if you’ve ever been through hard times, what tune did you have on repeat that worked as a sort of therapy to help you through it?

Music is an inevitable part of our lives, so utilizing it as a healing guide only makes sense. When you consider relaxing massage music, you’re bound to think of a very specific type of sound. There’s a reason for that – sounds promote healing. Let’s check out a few ways in which music actually has a physical, measurable effect on our bodies and our emotions.

We release dopamine

Dopamine is actually a chemical that makes us ‘feel good.’ There probably isn’t much of a surprise here – when we listen to music of any kind, we usually feel better, no matter what type of mood we are in. Dopamine not only affects our emotions but our entire central nervous system. So, while the body may produce it naturally, getting a ‘boost’ of it as often as we can, can actually help in our overall health.

Cardiovascular health

You might listen to music while you workout, but did you know the music by itself is actually improving your cardiovascular health? Music has been proven to affect our heart rate, and breathing patterns. This increases blood flow, and the size of our blood vessels, making our hearts stronger and more efficient. Think of that the next time you hit the gym.

Psychological health

There have been numerous studies done on how music benefits our psychological well-being. There is actually a specific type of ‘music therapy’ that works for many people who struggle with varying problems and disorders, from anxiety to depression. It also helps to boost motivation in depressed people who struggle with getting out of bed, or making the most of their day. On top of present pleasantries, music also helps to evoke happy memories, which can boost our mood, and help us deal with mental health issues of the present.

A million songs, a million possibilities

We could make this entire article about the healing properties of music, but it’s important that we get into different kinds of massage therapy music. Keep in mind, however, that music provides so much more than what is simply listed here. It can work as everything from a sleep aid to a stress reliever, and has even been known to heal actual physical pain. There is a lot of science behind the effects of music. However, sometimes, it’s best to just sit in awe at how amazing it actually is, and what it does for our minds, emotions, and bodies.

We react in such natural, involuntary ways to the music surrounding us. Those involuntary reactions work to heal whatever needs to be taken care of in our minds and bodies, similarly to massage therapy. When the two combine, it’s no wonder they provide such an effective relief system. Now that we know exactly how music can affect us, let’s look at the best types to consider when it comes to massage therapy.

Choosing the Best Music for Massage Therapy

Making the experience whole and complete starts with music. It’s likely to be the first thing a client notices when they walk into the room, and the biggest factor in allowing them to really relax, and take advantage of the healing massage. So, while we already know that music itself can heal, choosing the right music for your specific experience is extremely important. After all, it wouldn’t seem all that practical to have distorted electric guitars and heavy drum solos playing throughout the day when you’re trying to help people relax.

With that being said, there is more to choosing the right music than just picking out something soft and simple. Musicians and composers who offer music (including ours, on this site!), take great care in different genres and selections, including soothing music for massage therapy. As we look into some of the best options for massage therapy music, we, of course, can’t exclude some of our own selections to get you started. However, feel free to take a look at additional composers, and what they have to offer. There is so much great music out there that goes perfectly with massage therapy, that ignoring it would simply be a disservice to what you or your clients expect.

Music that Mimics Nature

A lot of people relate to natural sounds that they are either already used to, or sounds they don’t get to experience every day, but would like to. You’ve likely seen, or at least have heard of those ‘sleep machines’ that play different noises to help people fall into a relaxed state. Oftentimes, these noises are nature-related, such as ocean waves, a light falling of rain, or nighttime sounds. We take that into account at Music By Mood, which is why we think some of the best music for massage therapy could be something like our ‘Stratosphere’ track. You’ll see it described as ‘music for night time,’ and it can indeed help with insomnia and nighttime relaxation. But, it can also work as a way to provide a sense of serenity and peace, no matter the time of day.

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Another great selection that provides familiar natural sounds with beautiful music is the EARTH Spirit album, by Michael Benghiat. Benghiat mixes acoustics and soft instrumentals with natural sounds like soft rain, gentle wind, and even the delicate chirping of birds for secondary sounds that can evoke memories, and take you to your most relaxed state. Music that incorporates nature of any kind is a great way to allow your clients a more familiar feeling of their environment and surroundings.

Simplistic and Bright Music

It’s important to understand that when someone wants to experience a massage, they are letting their minds naturally drift elsewhere. It is so easy in our society today to think about a million things at one time. A massage therapy session is a way to let go of those jumbled thoughts, if even for a short period of time.

With that in mind, a musical selection that is simple, and perhaps even understated, can be more powerful than you might think. If a patient can appreciate the simplistic beauty of a piece of music, without having to concentrate on random patterns, complex chords, or overly-complicated melodies, they are likely to get more out of it, as a whole.

It is also a good idea to keep those simplicities on the brighter side. Positive, ‘happy’ tones have been known to uplift moods and allow a person to feel less stressed, and more relaxed. Minor tones and keys aren’t often the best choice for a massage therapy session unless they involve some kind of resolve at the end of each piece. Choosing slow-moving, bright, and elegant melodies and support for each tune is always the most effective thing you can do when selecting an instrumental piece.

Swells and Movement in Music

Music, in general, is so powerful because it makes us feel things. It moves us. Of course, music moves as well – only in a different way. While massage music should be fairly calm in nature, it shouldn’t be so monotone that it doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Choose music with subtle, yet emotional swells and soft changes in dynamics throughout. Even if the client doesn’t realize it, these subtle changes in how the music flows can stir up more feelings and emotions throughout the massage.

A great example of these swells can be found in Dean Evenson’s track, “Floating to Forever,” from his Sound Massage album. While this track also incorporates gentle sounds of waves, it also ebbs and flows like water, offering both a sense of familiarity, along with a swelling and backing off that is not only impossible to ignore, but can push you to really feel something each time the swell comes in. If you’re a massage therapist, don’t be afraid to allow your clients to embrace their emotions, even in times of relaxation. It may end up being even more therapeutic for them than either of you initially anticipated. Music has that impact on many people, and the way the music moves can bring it to the surface.

Morning and Evening Music

Music that evokes a feeling of a specific time of day can be extremely effective when it comes to relaxation techniques. Typically, this involves music that suggests either early morning or evening themes. These specific times of day are notoriously peaceful, and beautiful, resulting in those same images in people’s imaginations.

Songs that can simulate a sunrise or sunset are likely to take patients to those ‘happy places,’ wherever they may be, and allow them to feel as though they are experiencing those particular times of day, even though they’re in a massage chair. One of the best things you can do as a massage therapist is make your patient feel as though they are in the most comfortable, enjoyable place in the world, instead of an unfamiliar atmosphere – no matter how charming and comfortable it may be.

As a patient, being able to release yourself to the fact that you can drift away somewhere else is also important. It will allow you to fully immerse yourself in the experience, and you’re likely to get more out of the massage than you thought possible.

Our own Morning Clarity music is a perfect example of this. With positive tones and simple harmonies, it can be reminiscent of a sunrise, or those early morning hours when the world is quiet and peaceful.

Relaxing Classical Music

Some people respond extremely well to traditional, classical music. It’s important to monitor the type of classics you may go for, as some can be intense and driving. Simplistic piano tones, gentle violins and orchestral pieces, and even light choruses who use tones and hums can be extremely effective. Many people are familiar with some of the more popular classical music pieces, and already associate them with relaxation, so bringing them into the massage can also bring a comfort level when it comes to familiarity.

Mozart for Relaxation is a great album that combines the familiar sounds of Mozart’s most famous pieces, with a relaxing flare that’s perfect for massage therapy. The classics have stood the test of time for a reason, and though choosing them for a massage therapy session may sound somewhat unconventional, you may just be surprised at how well clients respond to these timeless pieces.

Other Things to Consider

Be aware that if you choose contemporary vocal artists in any of your music, it’s a good idea to ‘screen’ them ahead of time. When playing an entire album, the whole thing could be perfect and soothing, but one song might throw off the ‘groove’ and feel you’re looking for. It’s always a better idea to choose some of your favorites from contemporary artists and put together a playlist of the most perfect songs from their collections that you can burn onto a CD, use on an iTunes playlist, etc.

Typically, artists who focus on acoustic or piano music are the best choices to consider. It’s also a good idea to stick with artists who don’t use complicated lyrics or lyrics that could possibly offend anyone in any way. In a quick search, we were able to find that artists like Enya, Jewel, Kenny G, and Sarah McLaughlin are all popular choices for spas and massage therapy offices.

With the right filtering and a personal selection you’re confident in and comfortable with, contemporary vocal artists can be extremely effective in providing relaxation.

Warmth and Comfort

Finally, consider using music that evokes warmth, and ‘coziness.’ Whether it’s the middle of winter or a hot summer day, clients experiencing a massage often want to feel as though they are wrapped up in comfort, and music with rich, warm tones can help with that feeling.

We suggested earlier that brighter tones are always a good idea, but keep in mind that bright doesn’t mean shrill. Rather, it means uplifting, positive, and happy. Bright tones can absolutely be warm in nature, and provide a sense of depth that people really grab onto, and feel comforted by. You can add to the warm atmosphere with things like candles, scents, etc., but music is really what will make the difference in the vibe of the room. Think about how you feel when you know there is a comfortable warmth around you; more likely to open up, more likely to give in to relaxation, etc. Playing warm and inviting music during a massage session offers the same benefits.

Conclusion – Why Massage Music Matters

As you can see, there are many different types of genres and styles to consider when it comes to the best relaxing music for massage therapy. These suggestions are really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the wide variety of options available. Many times, personal preference is key – you know what you’d like to experience during a massage, so take that into consideration for your clients.

Also, don’t be afraid to actually ask your clients what type of music would make them most comfortable during their session. This can really work wonders in making them feel as though they are in control of their relaxation. If you choose to go this route, be sure to have a variety of styles on hand, like the ones suggested today, that they can choose from. Whatever you decide, understand that the right kind of music for massage therapy is extremely important. Whether you’re a regular massage therapy patient or a licensed therapist, consider your musical options wisely, and you’ll appreciate what they can do on a regular basis more than ever before.