Hospitalized child beams with joy as she helps a musician play a guitar“Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul.”
–Plato

All of us musicians know the restorative power of music.

In this post, I briefly look at ways in which we can bring musical healing to those who need it most: patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and other care facilities.

No Experience Necessary
I encourage you to share your music in healthcare settings regardless of whether you have prior experience doing so.

If you feel unsure what it would be like to make music in a clinic, keep in mind that today’s care facilities often employ coordinators who work with artists. So you don’t need previous training to bring your music to the elderly, disabled, or infirm.

You can just contact a care facility, and, if they engage musicians, you’ll be put in touch with a designated staff person. As an example, check out the the Visual and Performing Arts Program at the Wake Forest University Medical Center.

Some communities also host independent organizations that bring music and arts to patients. A shining example is Arts for Life: “AFL’s staff members and volunteers teach the arts to patients for over 300 hours each week and work with more than 4,500 patients annually.”

Typical Situations
Musicians who perform in hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes usually appear in spaces designed either for group activities or patient care.

Group-oriented spaces come in two basic types: activity rooms and chapels.

  • Activity rooms have flexible setup options – chairs can be oriented in rows or circles, and musicians might perform and also conduct participatory activities.
  • Chapels can be less flexible and more suited to concerts, but audio and video gear may allow for performances to be broadcast in patient rooms, as is the practice at the Wake Forest University Hospital.

To bring music to spaces devoted to patient care, you’ll need orientation or training, which some clinics provide.

Many musicians actually specialize in therapeutic music making, and numerous hospitals employ music therapists – for more info, see the Career in Music Therapy page on the site of the American Music Therapy Association.

Related posts:
8 Ways to Build Sustainable Music Careers
Career Strategies that Drive Creativity
Partnering with Non-Profits
Preparing for Portfolio Careers

Are you looking to forge a satisfying career in music? If so, check out pages 299-307 of The Musician’s Way for guidance. If you’ve performed in healthcare facilities, I invite you to share your experiences here.

© 2010 Gerald Klickstein

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