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When the world didn’t make sense, I turned to music. My favorite picture of myself as a young girl shows me holding my stuffed animal while pressing piano keys. I was inexplicably drawn to making music. If I was overstimulated or frustrated, all I had to do was sit down on that piano bench and being to play. I didn’t understand how, but I knew it healed me. Playing harmonies on the piano brought harmony to every aspect of my life. Despite any setback or situation, I found solace and strength in music, but it wasn’t until I was older that I began to understand the physiological impact that music had on my brain.
Playing music put my world into focus just as sharply as when people put on glasses. Music has always been the perfect lens, the perfect prescription. I aspire to build and be part of a world of art and science, where the scientific community relies not on drugs alone. Creative arts treat the brain, body, and soul and should be an integral part of every healthcare environment.
Three years ago, someone close to me was diagnosed with cancer. I experienced the coldness of the hospital from a teenager’s perspective. This prompted me to look for ways to bring joyful experiences to patients and their caregivers. Bedside music and art classes empower the patient with choices and allow them to express themselves outside of their diagnosis and treatments.
As a classically-trained pianist, I became a musician-in-residence with the non-profit organization, Hearts Need Art. I work primarily on the adult oncology floor every Wednesday at Methodist Hospital where I offer personalized bedside music to patients and their families. I am also the Community Liaison for Hearts Need Art, and enjoy working with schools and businesses to organize art supply drives and fundraisers to provide more patients with joy and healing from the arts.
I created Music is Key to share the benefits of Arts in Health programs in other environments where music has a powerful physiological effect on the brain. My grandfather has Alzehimers’s disease. He doesn’t know my name. He doesn’t know who I am. He doesn’t talk, but when I sit down at the piano bench at his memory care home, he begins to play right beside me. Music speaks when all else fails, even the brain. Seeing my grandfather’s eyes light up when we play proves to me that through music, we are able to connect.
The arts are a powerful tool in the movement to infuse the healthcare environment with joy, but our work extends far beyond a paint brush and a piano. It’s about celebrating creativity as a catalyst for hope and healing. It’s about letting our imagination run wild. Whether it’s cooking, gardening, drawing, singing, dancing, or even volunteering in the community, creativity enables individuals to grow beyond the limitations imposed by illness and aging. It is how we strengthen the broken. It is how we exude vitality. It is how we find comfort in a world that is fragmented. As humans, we all seek intimacy. It’s time to create together!