Health and Wellness Programs

The Grand Rapids Symphony (GRS) Music for Health program is a collaborative music therapy program with Spectrum Health that serves patients, families, and health care professionals through the addition of GRS Musicians to Music Therapy interventions. Program goals include bringing live music into health care settings; creating positive physical, emotional, and spiritual experiences for patients, families, and health care providers; and continuing to develop the relationship between the Spectrum Health Music Therapy department and the GRS in order to promote rehabilitation and quality of life in the patients and residents of Spectrum Health Continuing Care sites. The program’s therapeutic goals include enhancement of movement, communication, and cognitive functioning through engagement in therapeutic music interventions developed collaboratively by the music therapist, interdisciplinary team, and GRS members. This program targets Neuro-Rehabilitation and Oncology patients served by Spectrum Health’s Music Therapy program, as well as their families and the Spectrum Health professionals caring for them. During 2015-16, program plans include the expansion to additional patient support groups, partnerships with Western Michigan University Music Therapy students, and offering services to Spectrum Health’s medical professionals for their professional development. Further, through proposed integration of Music for Health’s music therapy services in existing main season programming, wider and younger audiences will be served.

The mission of the KSO Music and Wellness program is to provide live musical performances that enhance the healing process and benefit patients, visitors, and staff in healthcare settings. The Music and Wellness program has grown to include over 180 performances serving over 3,600 people. Musicians play in the waiting area of the University of Tennessee Medical Center Cancer Institute and in the lobbies of the Heart Hospital, Parkest Medical Center, and Fort Sanders Regional Hospital and Assisted Living Facilities. Work with individual patients occurs in chemotherapy, the cardiovascular intensive care unit, and oncology; on cardiovascular and trauma in-patient floors, in the neonatal intensive care unit, on the brain-injury rehabilitation unit, and in senior care. Playing for individual patients has one goal: to provide music that is therapeutic.  Patients have an enjoyable experience in a stressful situation and are able to connect with caregivers, experience positive changes in heart and/or respiratory rates, and use music to aid with pain management.  Hospital staff use live music to help alleviate stress. This program continues to be a catalyst to provide integrated medicine options for the entire region. By 2016 all five musicians working in the program will be Certified Music Practitioners. The KSO also plans to publish its observational study documenting patient responses to live music in the UTMC Cancer Institute. This data, along with compelling evidence collected in the University of Tennessee Medical Center neonatal intensive care unit, will help to build the case for health and wellness programs provided by symphony orchestras across the country.

The Soul Strings program uses the talents of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) to increase the quality of life for people with developmental disabilities through music-informed therapy. The target population for the Soul Strings program comprises people with developmental disabilities in the Greater New Orleans area. Soul Strings will provide 30 weeks of music-informed therapy sessions for 30 children and 40 adults to help develop and sustain the skills that foster their active participation in the community. The program’s intended outcome is to offer sensory and intellectual stimulation, helping to maintain or increase participants’ physical, mental, and social/emotional functions. The program allows the LPO to deepen and improve the quality of engagement with a population that is traditionally underserved by local arts and culture organizations. Soul Strings increases the understanding of LPO musicians and staff, as well as staff at partner organizations, of how music can improve wellness. The organization will continue to grow evaluation and reporting practices to determine the extent to which the program provides measurable intervention for the target population.

The RSO/SPHERE Partnership is a program serving adults 21 and older with developmental disabilities. The program addresses the need of an underserved population that has historically had little or no exposure to classical music or musical performance. The primary activities of this program are threefold: Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra (RSO) musicians visit SPHERE Music and Performing Arts Group meetings prior to all orchestra performances; SPHERE members are provided free tickets to attend all RSO performances; and SPHERE members perform jointly with the RSO a commissioned work by Chris Brubeck on the orchestra’s opening concert of the 2016-17 Season. Intended outcomes include an increased quality of life through a long-term, in-depth engagement with music, musicians, and music making as well as the community at large having a greater understanding and appreciation of adults with developmental disabilities. The 40 SPHERE program participants will attend all five RSO performances during the concert season and receive visits from RSO musicians in conjunction with all concerts at their music and performing arts group meetings. SPHERE and RSO musicians will jointly perform commissioned work.

In 2015-16 the Seattle Symphony will strengthen and expand the reach of the Lullaby Project, a partnership with Mary's Place, a center for homeless and otherwise distressed mothers and their children. The project will consist of a number of different sessions, ranging from initial consideration of lullaby material, composing/arranging, rehearsals, recording, video presentation, and public performances. The intended outcomes include emotional/parental growth for program participants (as well as Seattle Symphony staff and musicians), and growth for the orchestra overall in terms of the connection between its community work and mainstage artistic productions. The program will directly serve some ten mothers and their children, and will indirectly serve several thousand concert audience members, as they will also be touched and impacted by planned program activities at Masterworks performances.

The B-Sharp Music Wellness, a W.O.N.D.E.R. Project: Alzheimer’s Expansion Initiative addresses the critical issue of dementia and Alzheimer’s in a manner that takes direct advantage of the Phoenix Symphony’s community engagement and the healing capabilities of music. The program evaluates the impact of music on Alzheimer’s patients in need through a twelve-week program of musical intervention that includes an unprecedented combination of qualitative and quantitative data measurement. The pilot project, executed in 2014-15, focused on 48 Alzheimer’s patients at Huger Mercy Center, plus approximately 117 staff, caregivers, and family members. The second iteration of the program in 2015-16 will likely triple that number as musical interventions and therapy will be provided not only at Huger Mercy Center, but one–two new partner facilities. The organization created a protocol that can now be tested for further viability across a larger sample of both patients and facilities. The program will now impact more patients, amass data, and build a strong case for these humane, enriching innovations in the field of Alzheimer’s treatment.