Caitlin joined the MyMusicRx In-Hospital team just over a year ago. Already, she’s made a huge impression on the children and teens CCA serves by bringing music to their bedside. We sat down with Caitlin to ask about some of the various aspects of her job and what brings her joy!
What inspired you to get involved with music?
“I grew up loving music, it was a tool of self-expression, and I loved how it made me feel. I knew I wanted to incorporate it into my life, so I studied music therapy in college. It was the perfect combination of health, wellness, and song.”
What is your background in music?
“After graduation, I went to work in a pediatrics clinic in California. Then I moved to Chicago where I completed training to be an early intervention developmental therapist and I am also a neurologic music therapist. In Chicago, I worked with newborns straight out of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
I’ve worked in pediatrics, in clinics, and in the home setting, but the one environment that I’ve always been interested in is the hospital, so now here I am!
I am also excited to start the process of becoming hospice and palliative care certified. It’s a subset of music therapy, and I know it will be important to the work I do every day in the hospital.”
How do you prepare for your work in the hospital?
“I start the day off warming up my voice, tuning the instruments, and researching new songs kids might request. Then I meet with the hospital’s Child Life Specialists and they inform me on which kids might be music priorities for that day. After that, I start delivering service, which is the best part!”
How do you approach a child about music?
“I get kids into the music mood by incorporating a sense of humor. It helps kids to feel relaxed and if I can make them laugh on the spot, I try to do that. I make sure that they know it’s ok for them to laugh with me about mistakes I might make in a song. As long as we’ve had a good time, then I feel like my job has been successful.”
What do you enjoy about working with children and teens?
“Each child is so unique, everyone is going through a different experience and therefore relates to music in a different way. I love how that makes every day completely varied and diverse.
I’ve also learned that joy is a state of mind. Working with kids has taught me how emotional health is important. It’s vital that we help kids to feel good emotionally, even when physically they’re not feeling well. Joy is something you can take anywhere you go, whether it’s a playroom or a bedside or in the ER. Music helps transform the energy of the room.”
Do you have a moment providing service that has always stuck with you?
“One of my favorite memories is playing for a little girl’s birthday party at the hospital. When I arrived everyone was sitting there and no one was interacting, but as soon as I started playing, kids were laughing, singing, and requesting songs. It brought everyone together and transformed the energy of the room.
You might not think of having a birthday party in the hospital, but it happens. Kids are in the hospital on the day of their birthday and it was really a beautiful thing to be able to provide a happy experience on that day.”
What is your SongRx?
“The song that makes me happy is called ‘Cecilia and the Satellite’ by Andrew McMahon. I love the lyrics, they are really important to me. I look at songs the way people look at poems. They need to have beautiful and meaningful lyrics as well as great music. I always want to know exactly what they’re saying.
When I was younger, I wrote a lot of poetry and then I’d put music to it. I realized, this is actually a formula for writing a song. I enjoyed how the two complimented each other, in fact some of my favorite artists are actually poets, Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith, they’re such wonderful musicians, but they’re poets as well.
The chorus is about wanting the best for the people you love. Andrew says, “For all the things my hands have held, the best by far is you. If I could fly, then I would know, what life looks like from up above and down below. I’d keep you safe, I’d keep you dry. Don’t be afraid, Cecilia, I’m the satellite and you’re the sky.” These lyrics remind me of the work we do in the hospital, because we are aiming to create the best experience for the kids, to make them feel good or at least better.
Andrew is also a cancer survivor so I thought it was really appropriate and relevant to what a lot of kids in this program experience on a daily basis.”
You Can Help Deliver The Power Of Music
As part of CCA’s flagship program, MyMusicRx Specialists are integral to the delivery of bedside music. We are grateful to Caitlin and the detail she puts into every music moment she brings to children and teens in the hospital. We are able to provide this personalized music because of all your generous donations. Help us provide more music medicine today!