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Orchestral Health and Wellness Programs

0 Ann Drinan
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Penny Brill and Adam Liu Editor's Abstract

Recently the League of American Orchestras announced the recipients of 22
Education and Community Investment Grants from the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation. Applicants for the re-granting program came from every orchestra budget group. The initial 204 applicants were narrowed by an independent advisory panel to 44 semi-finalists; all were then judged on six criteria: the degree of innovation and relevance to community needs; the orchestra’s capacity to deliver; the of the program appropriateness to mission and community; the appropriateness and strength of partnership(s); the ability to assess outcomes; and professional development for musicians and staff.

According to the League’s press release, “A prerequisite for qualifying orchestras was the existence of partnerships with local cultural and/or community organizations, such as schools or social service providers. This year’s grants … will fund both new and established innovative programs including: long-term in-school partnerships and afterschool programs; health and wellness initiatives in hospitals, rehabilitation facilities and nursing homes; and programs for the underserved and underprivileged, including incarcerated youth.

A fairly new initiative among American orchestras is Health and Wellness programs, where orchestras partner with local health organizations to provide musical performances of many different types to patients in a variety of facilities. 43% of the grant monies from the Getty Foundation’s 2012-2013 Education and Community Investment Grants were given to nine orchestras with health and wellness program.

According to Jesse Rosen, League President and CEO, “More and more orchestras all over the country are finding innovative ways to help address community needs through music. The Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation’s commitment to encourage these important educational and community engagement programs is a great boost to orchestras’ ability to provide community relevance beyond the concert hall.”

I recently interviewed Dr. Lisa Wong, pediatrician and violinist with the Longwood Symphony – the “doctors” orchestra in Boston – which has been involved in health and wellness programs for decades. Dr. Wong can attest to the value of such programs for both the patients AND the musicians performing these services. Click here to read more about her experiences with merging music and medicine.

The following is a description of the health and wellness projects being funded by the Getty Foundation.

Detroit Symphony Orchestra

The Detroit Symphony received support to develop its Neighborhood Residency Initiative work in health care institutions, a performance-based neighborhood initiative that encompasses the orchestra’s entire roster of concerts, education programs, engagement activities, recitals, and senior programs that take place outside of Orchestra Hall. A strong component of the program is health and wellness; the orchestra assists children and adults of all ages, bringing its musicians to assisted-care facilities, senior centers and hospitals for performances, music-therapy sessions, and personal interaction. Among the multiple partners the orchestra engages to facilitate its services are Detroit Medical Center Children’s Hospital of Michigan, and other health care systems.

According to Kareem George, Managing Director of Community Programs, “The talent, versatility and commitment of our musicians are what make our Neighborhood Residency Initiative possible. Our artists will be able to continue and expand their impactful work in collaboration with music therapists as well as performance formats that serve these special populations.”

Hartford Symphony Orchestra

The HSO’s  Musicians Care Project is a community engagement program that will enhance the quality of life for people of all ages whose healthcare needs prevent them from taking part in traditional music performances by providing live, interactive musical experiences. The Musicians Care Project (MCP) seeks to engage patient participants in the joyful process of making music. At the same time, MCP aims to engage musicians in using their unique talents in improving the quality of life of people of all backgrounds suffering from various health-related issues. For the preliminary phase of this project, the HSO has partnered with Hebrew Health Care in West Hartford, a non-profit, non-sectarian healthcare organization that provides in-patient, out-patient, and community-based geriatric services to meet the needs of older adults. As MCP takes shape and grows over the coming years, the various activities that make up the Project will span a spectrum of engagement for both patient participants and musicians. The HSO’s programs at Hebrew Health Care will include:

Musical Reminiscence & Heritage Concerts HSO musicians will perform concerts that evoke a particular time period or ethnic heritage. They may also give audience members handheld percussion instruments to play along with certain musical selections.

Mood Music Intentionally scheduled at times where tensions may arise, Mood Music performances are casual, drop-in concerts that will soothe patients with peaceful music.

Buddy Program The Buddy Program will pair musicians with patients to engage in friendly interaction and personal performances. Program musicians will visit their buddy on a semi-regular basis and perform short, solo selections for the resident.

Twilight Song The Twilight Song program will allow elderly patients in the final stages of their lives to hear a song or particular sentimental value prior to their death. Where possible, HSO musicians will offer live performances of these songs for patients.

My Opus Through the “My Opus” program, the HSO will pair composers with patients to create new music around their life stories. The HSO will then record or perform the works for the patient.

Knoxville Symphony Orchestra

The mission of the Knoxville Symphony’s Music & Wellness program is to provide live musical performances that enhance the healing process and benefit patients, visitors and staff in healthcare settings. The KSO’s health and wellness series began in 2003, in partnership with the University of Tennessee Medical Center’s (UTMC) Cancer Institute, to explore the ways that music could benefit populations in healthcare settings.  Today, the Cancer Institute continues as the lead partner in the program as the number of programs provided by the KSO increase by 10-15% annually.

The KSO’s 2012-2013 Music & Wellness program includes 88 individual performances serving over 6,000 individuals. Five musicians perform as a string quartet, string duos or as soloists depending on the area of the hospital in which they are working.  The initiative targets Chemotherapy Treatment bays, Oncology inpatient floors, Cardio-Vascular in-patient floors, the Cardio-Vascular Intensive Care Unit, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, brain injury rehabilitation areas, Senior Care in-patient floors, Assisted Living Facilities and hospital waiting areas.

Support from the Getty Foundation will allow the program to expand by funding a part-time position for a certified Music Therapist with additional funding to support professional development opportunities for musicians and staff working in the program. This part-time position represents the introduction of the first music therapist position at a hospital in the East Tennessee region, and could be a catalyst to provide integrative medicine opportunities for the region. The therapist will be based at UTMC and will work with musicians to develop comprehensive patient treatment plans. The music therapist will also lead a weekly therapeutic music class at the Cancer Support Community of East Tennessee based in Knoxville. This position will help facilitate formal research to document quantitative and qualitative effects of the program. The KSO hopes that by expanding the Music & Wellness program to make it music-therapy informed, they can advocate for music therapy as an integrative medicine option for all patients in East Tennessee and serve as a model program for the integration of live music and music therapy.

Madison Symphony Orchestra

The Madison Symphony Orchestra (MSO) received funding for the continuation of HeartStrings, a music therapy-informed program using live music to address the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of adults and children with disabilities and long-term illnesses, as well as aging populations with dementia and assisted-living needs.

“HeartStrings is a signature program of the Madison Symphony Orchestra Inc.,” said MSO Director of Education and Community Engagement, Michelle Kaebisch. “It has transformed healthcare environments across south-central Wisconsin by bringing the therapeutic effects of actively participating in live music-making directly to individuals with disabilities, long-term illnesses and assisted living needs.”

HeartStrings: A Guide to Music Therapy-Informed Community Engagement for Symphony Orchestras, published and distributed by the MSO, is a one-of-a-kind resource intended to guide other symphony orchestras in creating programs similar to HeartStrings within their own communities. It illustrates the importance of reaching beyond the symphony orchestra’s traditional sphere of influence.

HeartStrings is designed specifically for special needs and aging populations, which include, but are not limited to: children and adults with cognitive, physical and/or developmental disabilities, assisted-living needs, long-term illnesses, as well as aging adults with dementia. The sessions are planned collaboratively with music therapists, activities directors and caregivers at partner locations.

HeartStrings is distinct from other community engagement programs because of its music therapy-informed design, the participatory nature of its sessions, and its regularly-recurring visits to partner locations each month throughout the season. The program is presented free-of-charge by the Rhapsodie Quartet, a string quartet comprised of principal MSO musicians, through a series of nine monthly interactive sessions at partner locations throughout Dane County, Wisconsin.

Program partners include retirement communities, healthcare facilities, rehabilitation centers, day health centers and state institutions. From September 2012 through May 2013, the MSO will present a total of 90 sessions, reaching approximately 3,200 individuals, many of whom would not otherwise have access to the meaningful musical experiences.

HeartStrings has gained national recognition for its innovation and community impact. In 2008, HeartStrings received one of two national MetLife Awards for Excellence in Community Engagement presented by the League. In 2009, the Society for the Arts in Healthcare with Johnson & Johnson selected HeartStrings from a competitive, international pool of applicants to promote the arts in healthcare, recognizing HeartStrings for its prior success, innovative programming, strong partnerships, artistic excellence and adaptability among a variety of populations.

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra

The New Jersey Symphony received support to establish its Autism Community Initiative, a series of chamber music programs that are tailored to meet the developmental needs of children and adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). This season’s program will serve more than 1000 youth and adults with autism, with six program partners in nine locations in Mercer and Essex Counties. The chamber music programs meet New Jersey’s Core Curriculum Content Standards, and the music is used by the orchestra’s program partners for cultural enrichment, and as an aid to reinforce positive behavior.

Phoenix Symphony Orchestra

The Phoenix Symphony received support for their collaboration with two well-established homeless service providers, Circle the City, which provides respite care for homeless adults in need of recovery following hospitalization, and the Lodestar Day Resource Center, which offers shelter, food and structured activities during daytime hours. Both these facilities are central to the B-Sharp Music Wellness program, which addresses the needs of the homeless by providing the joy of music paired with interactive, experiential concerts and music-making to support physical, emotional, cognitive and social changes for participants.  Symphony musicians will perform at each facility, providing an engaging program that ranges from soothing classical strings to Americana jazz along with an instrument “petting zoo,” allowing participants to engage hands-on and “up-close” with a variety of instruments.  Each performance sets the stage for a broad range of personal experiences within the seven elements of wellness, social/cultural, physical, environmental, occupational, intellectual, emotional and spiritual.

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra received support to help fund its Music and Wellness program, which takes place at UPMC Children’s Hospital, UPMC Shadyside Hospital, Allegheny Valley School, Gilda’s Club and Veterans Hospital. More than 22 Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra musicians are active participants in the program, which integrates live chamber music performances with music therapy to provide music and wellness sessions for small groups of hospital patients, families and staff. The orchestra is also developing a music and wellness online resource center to provide arts organizations, healthcare facilities, and the general public with information about music and wellness.

When the Pittsburgh Symphony was on tour in Europe this fall, they presented a Music and Wellness performance at a children’s hospital in Vienna. It was a huge success and the facility wants them to return to present another event. The PSO is now actively looking for similar opportunities when they return to Europe next year.

Portland Symphony Orchestra (Maine)

The Portland Symphony Orchestra’s Executive Director Lisa Dixon is honored by the recognition. “This grant will enable our symphony to bring the healing benefits of music to people in our community through our new Music & Wellness program, and it will allow us to strengthen and expand our wonderful relationship with New England Rehabilitation Hospital.”

The PSO’s award will help establish a comprehensive music and wellness program in order to improve the healing process and reduce stress levels of hospital patients, employees, and patients’ visiting families. The two-part program, in partnership with the New England Rehabilitation Hospital of Portland (NERHP), will include live, in-hospital  therapeutic performances by PSO musician ensembles as well as a stress-reduction program for hospital employees that combines live classical music with resistive muscle movement and deep breathing exercises.

Jeanine Chesley, CEO of NERHP, is looking forward to a continued partnership with the PSO. “One of our objectives at NERHP is to be a leader in rehabilitative medicine for the state of Maine. We are continuously looking to improve our patient outcomes and our staff satisfaction. Music and wellness programs benefit staff by lowering their stress levels and increasing their job satisfaction. When employees are feeling more relaxed and happy in their workplace, it translates to our patients and their experience benefits.  Live music, in particular, benefits patients by raising mood and well-being. It helps them be more active in their rehabilitation program and gives them another tool for success in their journey to recovery.”

St. Louis Symphony Orchestra

The St. Louis Symphony’s SymphonyCares program provides free music programs for adults and children in area hospitals, assisted-living centers and nursing homes.  This approach enables the PSO to take music to people who aren’t able to make it to Powell Hall, and provides PSO musicians with the gift of making a real and lasting difference in the lives of these patients.

One part of the program features joint performances at a local children’s hospital by an orchestra violinist and a Circus Flora clown, raising the spirits of both children and their families alike. Duos of St. Louis Symphony musicians also perform monthly for patients receiving chemotherapy infusions at Saint Louis University Cancer Center, and testing is now underway there, exploring the impact beautiful live music can have to relax patients and possibly reduce their need for pain medication.

Additionally, the St. Louis Symphony is now expanding facilities and patients served through its SymphonyCares program, as well as the number of STL Symphony musicians Involved. The program is now expanding to include performances at The Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and, separately, for children and adults with development and intellectual disabilities.

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