Music as Medicine: Healing Tunes.
When I was an undergraduate at The Ohio State University, the flute studio was involved in a collaboration with the hospital. We worked with a researcher on a study about increasing air capacity with the regular use of an inspirometer. The flute students were asked to keep a log of our use of the device and our lung capacities were measured in the lab before and after using the device.
Another part of the collaboration involved the Flute Troupe being invited to perform at the opening ceremony for the cancer memorial garden on campus. I was very honored to take part in that beautiful outdoor ceremony.
The flute studio worked for a couple of years on various projects linking music and healing. The project that I remember most vividly was being asked to play at the hospital. Our flute troupe played in the lobby once or twice for the people in the waiting room. It seemed to make the mood lighter and help anxious loved ones pass the time while they waited for news.
Individually, we prepared unaccompanied solo music to play in the surgery recovery area. I remember going by myself to University Hospital and being led back into a space where people were waking up after cancer surgery. Gurneys were being rolled in and out, there were beeps of monitors, and nurses were busy tending to patients. I played “Syrinx” and some Irish tunes. I improvised peaceful music. I’d like to think that maybe someone waking up from surgery was comforted by the sounds of the flute. That experience changed me. I found a quiet in the middle of the hustle and bustle of a busy hospital. I felt like I had something special to offer, that maybe my music would be meaningful to someone. Some of the nurses smiled. I hope that it was comforting to them and I hope I wasn’t in the way of their very important work.
The belief in music and healing continues to inform my playing.
Years later, I would play my flute for my grandmother when she was in the hospital. When my grandfather was at the end of his life, my sister and I sang at his bedside. More recently, I sang to my father-in-law when he was in his final hours. Bringing music into these sacred spaces felt good, human, comforting.
So when I came across an article about the use of Sufi music in Turkish hospitals, I felt an immediate connection and wanted to share my story with you, dear reader.
Do you have a story about music and healing? Perhaps a time that music was medicine to you? Please share!