Sunday, January 1, 2012

Music Therapy at the AFLAC Cancer Center

While driving my wife-to-be to dinner on our first date not quite ten years ago, I asked her what her job was. I knew she worked at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (since mutual friends who also worked there had set us up), but I couldn't remember what exactly she did at the hospital.

"Music Therapy," she replied. My inner crusty engineer kicked in, and I immediately thought (but fortunately didn't say aloud), "That's pretty fru-fru."

Then at dinner, she told me about how that very day she'd asked the mother of a comatose kid who'd been in an awful car accident what his favorite song was. Beth picked up her guitar, started playing that song, and the kid woke up out of the coma singing it back to her.

At that point I felt like I was approximately two feet tall and covered with camel mucus. Wasn't the last time she'd get in the last word on a subject without so much as lifting an eyebrow.

Anyway, that's more than enough about me; here's a great feature WSB-TV in Atlanta did about Beth and her job over the holiday weekend:

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta is a nonprofit hospital, and music therapy at the AFLAC Cancer Center is 100% supported by private donations.


  1. Very cool, Beth.

    May you and "your" kids be richly blessed in 2012.

  2. I finished all my coursework to be a music therapist...but couldn't afford to do the unpaid 6-month internship.
    But I can certainly attest to music therapy's efficacy and effectiveness. The main problem with music therapy is also its strength: it can be a cue, a behavior re enforcer, a training tool...pretty much everyone in the world has some sort of positive experience with music, and that can be used in therapy. But the problem is that there re so many ways to use music in therapy, it can be hard to convince or sell people on its almost sounds like snake-oil.

    The only population that music therapy doesn't work well with is autistic individuals, because music tends to overstimulate them.

  3. With autism kids, reverse the process: instead of playing music to them, teach them to use the tools of MIDI sequencing to create music.

    Use Sibelius or Finale, either with the virtual instruments they include, or using virtual instrument plug-ins. Set music, play music--learn.

  4. Wow Will, what an amazing thing to read from the husband of my friend! I am sitting at a Children's Hospital in Norfolk, VA taking a break from seeing my little preemie and got to read brightened my day! I got to see the news clip-- no sound sadly, but even without words I was inspired by Beth!!!! She is an amazing woman! I am even more motivated to stay in touch with the music therapist that works with the NICU so my son is on her schedule :-) She already helped me record a CD to play for Isaac with me reading and singing to him and the her singing songs that she feels preemies tend to respond well to...all because of Beth! :-)

    - Lisa