The steady beat of a heart monitor, the whirr of an oxygen machine, the hushed voices of physicians and nurses as they consult with patients—these are the typical sounds you hear at hospitals. However, at certain Texas Medical Center hospitals in Houston, you can hear the sweet sounds of music emanating from patients’ rooms and throughout the hallways. Research has shown that music can relieve physical pain and alleviate stress and anxiety levels in patients with chronic illnesses. That is why the Houston Symphony partners with the Periwinkle Arts in Medicine Program at Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers, The University of Texas MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Center, and Houston Methodist to enrich patients’ lives through music. Our Music and Wellness partnerships are designed to complement health care throughout the illness trajectory and increase the quality of life for patients, families, and caregivers.
Throughout the year, our Community-Embedded Musicians (CEMs) visit Texas Children’s Hospital and MD Anderson’s Children’s Cancer Center bi-weekly to interact with patients at their bedsides and in group sessions alongside board-certified music therapists. “It’s really moving and touching for me to do bedside visits,” says CEM Rainel Joubert, “You get into a room and a kid feels exhausted from medicine, and they don’t want to hear music. But then as you start playing, you can see how their face changes totally. The environment in the room changes—not only for them, but for their families. It’s always something that I look forward to doing.”
Last season, the Houston Symphony began a partnership with CarePartners Dementia Day Center to provide monthly interactive concerts for dementia patients. This season, the Houston Symphony is excited to expand our work with dementia patients through our new partnership with Amazing Place. Concerts include music from genres and eras conducive to eliciting memories and audience participation and reducing agitation in patients.
A recent concert took place at CarePartners, where 40 participants also played music-based games and had the opportunity to request songs. We know that music can lift moods and reduce stress, but studies have also shown that music can also improve cognitive function. “When we get into dementia centers, there are patients that don’t remember certain things, but as soon as we play something that they lived through back in the day, something just clicks,” CEM Rainel remarks on the healing power that music has on patients, “That [feels like] magic happening in real time. There’s something in the brain that just sparks up.”
Our bedside visits and concerts are a part of the Houston Symphony’s Education and Community Engagement initiatives. If you’d like to support our efforts to enrich countless lives through music and further expand our Music and Wellness partnerships, visit houstonsymphony.org/donate or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.