Music therapy hits the right note for young patients

Music soothes the soul, and might help heal the body as well. So hospitals across the country are retuning their patient-support programs to include music therapy, according to news reports.

Louisville, Ky.-based Norton Healthcare recently expanded its music therapy program, spending $400,000 on an expansion and renovation at Norton Audubon Hospital to include a performance space, a music library, a music classroom for patients and a concert grand piano, the Courier-Journal reported.

"They are in the forefront of hospitalwide programs," Al Bumanis, spokesman for the American Music Therapy Association, told the newspaper. "That's a good model program others can learn from."

More than 26,000 U.S. healthcare facilities offer music therapy, providing services for nearly a million patients, the newspaper reported. Medicare covers music therapy for hospitalized patients, as do some private insurers.

Many of the music-therapy programs are privately funded. In Minneapolis, for example, volunteers for the Ellen Project wheel brightly painted pianos into children's rooms to play, KARE-TV reported.

Founders of the Ellen Project, named after a girl who helped her sister battle leukemia, want to expand their program to children's hospitals across the country, the article noted.

And in Florida, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra is expanding a music outreach program to the Florida Hospital for Children, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Musicians will visit the hospital four times a year to create an instrument "petting zoo" to create music with children.

The Philharmonic also works with Arnold Palmer Children's Hospital and performs at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies, according to the Sentinel.

"This is some of the most rewarding work we do," Orchestra Education Director Leia Barrett told the Sentinel. "Once the children interact with the musicians and hear the music, you see them forgetting they are sick and remembering they are kids."

For more information:
- read the Courier-Journal article (published in the Sacramento Bee)
- here's the KARE-TV report
- read the Orlando Sentinel story