Houston Symphony musicians Aralee Dorough, principal flute, and Colin Gatwood, oboe, writing an original song with a patient in a Purple Songs Can Fly session.
Music is a powerful tool that can be used to complement healthcare throughout the illness trajectory and increase the quality of life for patients, families and caregivers. A growing body of research demonstrates that music can help alleviate patients’ physical pain and reduce their stress and anxiety levels.
The Houston Symphony currently partners with The University of Texas MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital, The Periwinkle Arts In Medicine Program at Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers, and Houston Methodist to enrich their patients’ lives through music.
Through its partnership with The University of Texas MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital, one of the Symphony’s Community-Embedded Musicians collaborates with the hospital’s board-certified music therapist each week to use live instrumental multicultural lullabies to achieve clinical goals for select pediatric patients, including changes in the patients’ heart and respiration rates, oxygen levels, and blood pressure.
Houston Symphony violinist Chris Neal plays music at a patient’s bedside at Texas Children’s Hospital
The Houston Symphony also provides monthly bedside visits to patients in The Periwinkle Arts In Medicine Program at Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers, bringing respite to patients through music. Additionally, in a recording studio housed at Texas Children’s, the musicians from the Symphony work with Purple Songs Can Fly, a partner of The Periwinkle Arts In Medicine Program, to help children with cancer and blood disorders write and record their own songs.
In its partnership with Houston Methodist the Symphony presents performances for adult patients waiting for their chemotherapy or infusion treatments.
Houston Symphony cellist Brinton Averil Smith during a virtual bedside hospital visit.
On March 31, 2020, the Symphony conducted its first virtual bedside hospital visits (at M.D. Anderson and Texas Children’s Hospitals) and its first virtual performances at senior assisted living facilities via customized pre-recorded videos, later moving to live virtual interactions.