November is International Arts in Health month – a time dedicated to promoting and celebrating the important impact that the arts contribute toward health and wellness – and JoyRx Music is getting involved by bringing the healing power of music to pediatric patients at UMass Memorial Medical Center – Children’s Medical Center for their second annual Arts in Health concert celebration.
So, what is Arts in Health?
The National Organization for Arts in Health describes it as a broad field dedicated to integrating the power of the arts into a wide variety of healthcare and community settings to enhance health and well-being.
The Center for Arts in Medicine at the University of Florida shares that Arts in Health is a way to provide comfort, relaxation, and joy even during the most difficult times.
JoyRx music specialists are trained arts in health professionals who deliver the transformative power of music in pediatric healthcare spaces through bedside music sessions and concerts, both in person and virtually.
The team provides opportunities for patients and families to engage in song requests, sing-alongs, instrument lessons, and musical games and activities.
Partnering with healthcare professionals nationwide, JoyRx music specialists work collaboratively with Creative & Expressive Arts Therapists and other clinical staff to provide engaging music activities that support patient well-being.
For the second year in a row, the JoyRx Music Digital Live program is partnering with music therapist, Katie, and child life specialist and trained art therapist, Keri, at UMass Memorial Medical Center – Children’s Medical Center to provide an interactive live stream concert for patients with guided art making, movement activities, and live music.
JoyRx Music Manager and livestream host, Elke, sat down with Children’s Medical Center music therapist, Katie, to talk more about the event.
Elke: How long have you been celebrating Arts in Health Month at UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center? What does it entail?
Katie: We started celebrating Arts in Health Month last year as a way to recognize the role creative arts play in our everyday health and wellness.
We typically plan a few events for our patients that highlight art- or music-based coping strategies and help patients connect with their creativity. This year we held an IV pole decorating event, medical play process art projects, and are excited to host another collaborative concert with JoyRx!
We also take this opportunity to advocate for the role of the arts in our hospital for the overall wellness of our patients, and the role of our music therapy program in providing individualized treatment to patients.
Why is Arts in Health important to you?
As a music therapist, I believe in the power of a creative outlet to promote wellness and decrease stress in our patients.
Throughout my life, I found a personal benefit in creating and enjoying music and I want to help others find the modality of creativity that can have a similar effect on them.
In a hospital setting, I think it is important to advocate for a holistic approach to healthcare and support medical intervention with nonpharmacological strategies, such as the expressive arts modalities. The arts help us connect with our self-expression and creative identity, opening the door to addressing our emotional, physical, and psychological well-being.
How does Arts in Health benefit the patients and families you work with?
Participating in the arts is something that all patients and families can do regardless of age, ability, or perceived “talent.”
I see the benefit in the use of lullabies to calm infants, the joy in a toddler dancing along to their favorite song, and the excitement of our patients to draw or create art projects.
I see it in teenagers learning to play an instrument for the first time or who find it easier to express themselves through song choice than conversation.
I see it in patient caregivers experiencing the fear and uncertainty of having a sick child, yet able to see their child’s smile and personality come back as they engage in the creative arts process.
As a music therapist, how do you integrate programs like JoyRx Music into the spectrum of Arts in Health?
JoyRx Music has been such a wonderful program for our patients to engage with!
Programming like this helps us normalize the medical environment, provide a fun and interactive activity to our patients, and distract them from any fears, worries, or discomfort they are experiencing.
My role as a music therapist differs in that I present individualized music interventions to address each patient’s specific goals of wellness.
JoyRx concerts function as supportive music by providing an opportunity for patients to engage with music at the level that is most comforting and supportive to them. This functions as a therapeutic tool patients can access outside of their individual music therapy sessions.