Helping kids heal with music and technology

Helping kids heal with music and technology

By Nicole Roehrig, MSN, RN
Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist

A young girl is cowering in the corner - it is the first day her care-taker has left her side. She has backed herself into a corner as far from anyone as possible. She appears to be filled with anxiety. Staff members try calming her, but nothing seems to work.
 
With her back turned, the little girl doesn’t notice a young man entering the room. He is holding a tool, one of which the full power and potential is still unknown to most. Even though he has witnessed its abilities before, what happens next still takes even him by surprise.
 
Not knowing what to say, he says nothing at all. He lifts his instrument and strikes the first chord. The girl stops. He continues to play. The girl turns and slides to the floor. The young man sinks to his knees, the same level as the girl. Strumming his ukulele the young man begins to sing. The little girl begins to scoot herself across the floor, 20 feet to where the young man kneels, closer and closer until her knees touch his.
 
The amazing transformation is apparent that in a flip of a switch, the little girl went from utter anxiety to calm and happy, soothed by the sound of music. As the young man finishes his song, the little girl smiles, reaches out her hand to touch his, then falls back, smiling and laughing.
 
This is the story of Melodic Caring Project Founder, Levi Ware, on his most recent visit to provide live music to pediatric patients at Swedish First Hill.

“I've been playing music for a long time and I've seen a lot of amazing things happen when music is introduced into certain situations. What happened on the Pediatric Unit at Swedish was one of the most wonderful, beautiful and undeniably powerful music experiences I've had. To watch it completely affect her mood and spirit... to see it disarm her fear and anxiety and calm her down so immediately... To see her fall backwards and laugh after playing one song for her... It just reminded me of why we do what we do and why I feel so blessed to be doing it. It's humbling, inspiring and wonderful," he said.
 
This one child in particular pulled at our heart-strings as we were able to experience the amazing gift of music and how it helped her in that moment in a beautiful and inspiring manner.
 
Simply put, music heals. It is medically proven to alleviate pain, reduce anxiety and aid in the overall wellness of patients. It inspires a certain inner-connection unlike most anything else. In one way, shape or form we are all affected by music. Children are often profoundly and positively affected by music. What about children who are sick and suffering from a health condition or illness? Could music be of even more benefit to them? Swedish and Melodic Caring Project believe so, and that is why they are coming together to offer unique and personal music experiences to patients.
 
The Melodic Caring Project is a local Seattle-based 501(c)3 Non-Profit that combines the healing properties of music with technology to stream live, personalized, musical performances to children and teens in the hospital. Their mission is to offer hope and encouragement to children in need through the healing power of music. They do this by streaming live concerts from venues all over Seattle and across the country, directly to kids in their hospital beds, homes or anywhere they can log on via smart device or computer.
 
Swedish provides out-patient services for children of all ages at each campus and in-patient pediatric units at First Hill and Issaquah. We are proud to announce our partnership with the Melodic Caring Project as an inspirational adjunct to traditional medical care by offering the gift of live music to hospitalized children and teens that are dealing with long-term illnesses and/or disorders. The Melodic Caring Project meets a real and pressing need in healthcare with its innovative approach offering accessibility to its therapeutic and empowering music program for those suffering from serious injury or illness.

Information about upcoming concerts are offered to patients and families at Swedish by a Certified Child Life Specialist or Registered Nurse. When a child signs up for a concert on the MCP website, the musicians and artists on stage call them out by name and dedicate songs to them, offering messages of hope and encouragement. This unique experience is complimentary to the hospital and patients and can be watched easily on any smart phone, tablet, or computer.
 
You can watch one of the next Melodic Caring Project programs, a Switchfoot concert, on April 18th at 8:30 PM PDT, or STG’s More Music at the Moore, May 9th at 11AM PDT. Switchfoot will be conducting a toy drive in conjunction with the April 18th show streamed to hospitalized kids. Visit www.melodiccaringproject.org for more info. To watch LIVE visit www.ustream.tv/melodiccaringproject.
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