Music therapists find a way to keep the beat going during COVID-19

Ellen Galles
Updated: May 17, 2020 11:39 PM
Created: May 17, 2020 12:49 PM

Never underestimate the power of music. 

At Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare, they have been using music therapy for years to help kids cope with stress, anxiety and grief. But in March, hospital safety restrictions in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic put this kind of therapy in jeopardy.

"I wasn't sure how music therapy was going to look for us anymore, or whether we were going to have jobs, honestly," said Heath Marvel, who is a board-certified music therapist at Gillette.

As a bit of an experiment, they've launched Facebook Live sessions every Wednesday afternoon. They interact with patients, play games and take requests. 

"It's very meaningful to people. It connects to so many aspects of their health, to their social-emotional and their cognitive health," said Marvel.

Beth Engelking, also a board-certified music therapist at Gillette, says she knew right away they were onto something.

"I popped onto Facebook to see how many people viewed it and saw that it was 6,000 ... and I just cried," she said.

On a typical day, music therapists see about 10-12 patients a day at the hospital, but during these virtual performances, they've reached as many as 34,000 in one session.

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