Juanita Muriel Stilwell McElwain

1928 - 2012

Juanita McElwain, a pianist, was a music therapist who wrote and spoke extensively about the effects of music. A Registered Music Therapist, during her career she was Director of Music Therapy at New Mexico University (1980-1985) and Phillips University (1985-1993).

Juanita was born in Geneva, Ohio, one of three children and the only daughter of George Myron and Muriel Maude Randolph Stilwell. She attended and graduated from Mount Vernon Academy in Ohio. She married Ogla Dempsey McElwain in August 1948 and they had one son, Thomas George.

McElwain completed a B.Mus.Ed at Florida State University in 1958 and an M.Mus.Ed in 1959. She began teaching in the Jennings, Florida, public school system. From 1962-1967, she taught piano, organ, and music classes at Monterey Bay Academy in California and, then taught at Antillian Union College in Puerto Rico for two years. She subsequently did additional graduate work at FSU, completing an M.Mus. in music therapy in 1974 and a Ph.D. in music education with an emphasis in music therapy in 1978.

McElwain wrote several articles and books on the effects of music on the mind and body. Additionally, she made a number of presentations on music therapy, including its use for the severely handicapped and for exceptional children, and wrote materials for possible use in working with the deaf and blind. More recently, she gave lectures on the "Philosophy of Morals and Ethics of a Christian Music Therapist" and several Power of Music Seminars, presentations on the power of music in the spiritual experience.

Beginning in 1992, with the release of her first book, The Power of Music, McElwain was a spokesperson for the importance of choosing music carefully and thoughtfully. Her counsel, based on her experience as a music therapist, was summarized in her fourth and final book, The Lord is My Song. It is a revision and compilation of earlier writings and spoken presentations on the subject of music's influence on the moral, mental, and physical aspects of life.

The McElwains retired to Kerens, West Virginia, in 1993, where he died in 2009, and she died three years later, at age 84. 


Sources: Interview with and Information provided by Juanita McElwain, 2003; Obituary, The Inter-Mountain.com, 21 April 2012.



All of McElwain’s books have been merged into one volume and can be found at www.lulu.com/spotlight/juanitamcelwain.  It is formatted for free download.


"The effect of spontaneous and analytical listening on the evoked cortical activity in the left and right hemispheres of musicians and non-musicians," Journal of Music Therapy 16(47), 180-189, 1979.

Review of Michel, Donald, Music Therapy: An Introduction, Including Music in Special Education, Journal of Music Therapy, 23(3), 178-179, 1986.

"The Effect of Somatron and Music on Headache," Southern Medical Journal, 85(2), S18, 1992; also in Forum on Arts and Medicine, Proceedings of the MedArt International 1992 World Congress on Arts and Medicine, 1992.

"Worship and Music," Landmarks, May, 2002.

"Demon Possession and Music," Landmarks, June, 2002.


The Power of Music, 1992

Rhythm of the Gods, 1993.

Effects of Music, 2000

The Lord is My Song, 2002

The Story of Music, 2007