(Katherine C. Cohen/Boston Children’s Hospital)
I’ve been a music therapist at Boston Children’s for two years now. I always wanted to do philanthropic work my whole life, so this is an opportunity where I can use my musical talents for good. It’s a blessing to be here.
Music therapy is the utilization of music to achieve a non-musical goal — that might be bringing family members together, preparing a child for surgery or regulating a heart rate.
Every one of us is musical, so I try to draw the music out of people. I’ve seen kids speak their first words and move their arms and legs for the first time in music therapy sessions. It’s phenomenal.
I work with children all across the hospital and our satellites. It’s been wonderful seeing patients like Joy who show remarkable response to the therapeutic medium of music. I speak for all four music therapists here when I say that the person we’re working with is — in that moment — the most important person in the whole world.
Caring for patients is a true team effort. Care Team highlights the dedication of the people throughout Boston Children’s who do their part to comfort and support patient families each and every day.
James Danna enters the Boston Children’s Hospital Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) with the tools he’ll use to treat Joy, a 9-month-old patient recovering from open-heart surgery. Instead of a stethoscope or scalpel, James carries only small percussion instruments and a guitar.
He gently opens the door to Joy’s room, taking a quick read of her heart rate—138. Joy is a tiny little thing in a great big bed, under bright lights and tethered to multiple machines. Over the course of her multiple procedures for a congenital heart defect, the noise of the monitors, air conditioning and loudspeakers have made for a very wary baby. Her medical chart describes Joy as “staff phobic,” as most adults who enter her room poke and prick her.
But Joy has met James many times before and knows him to be safe. She locks her eyes on him and waits for the music to begin. Keeping his distance, James quietly hums a tune while strumming a few chords on his guitar. “The music I play for Joy is soft like silk, a sensory blanket to swaddle and soothe her.”
Joy smiles, crosses her little legs and nods to the beat.