Music Meets Medicine

presented by Medical Properties Trust, Protective Life Corporation, & The Comer Foundation

Music is a universal phenomenon that is woven throughout our everyday life. From our favorite songs on the radio to live orchestral concerts, each piece can reflect a variety of emotions. Additionally, music is able to bring listeners a sense of comfort, and, when combined with long-term hospital stays, music can have a nurturing and healing effect on the patient listening, and their families. 

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During the Summer of 2020 as local hospitals in the Birmingham area filled with COVID-19 patients, members of our staff knew we could play a major role in the recovery process. A group of six ASO musicians volunteered to collaborate with hospital staff to bring patients perfectly orchestrated repertoire to fit the listeners best needs. From Bach to The Beatles, flute solos to string duos, each experience is one of a kind and memorable.

“My job as a music therapist is to use music in a targeted way to reach the needs of patients,” Wesley A. Hyde, MT-BC, a Music Therapist Clinical Specialist at UAB Hospital said, “For some that means managing their pain, it might be providing emotional support, and for others it might mean using specific instruments or music making processes to work on things like fine motor coordination, speech acquisition, etc.”

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These virtual concerts are specifically crafted with the patient in mind, and provide therapeutic escapes for patients and their families while they are visiting Birmingham area hospitals. “Even just listening to music,” Hyde says, “can elicit a very strong emotional response, and we can utilize that to improve mood. We can also use it to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.”

Continuing in 2021, at UAB Hospital, musicians perform live from their homes while music therapists operate the screen from the patient’s room. Due to privacy restrictions, the musicians cannot see the audience, but hospital staff are still able to offer feedback.

ASO Principal Flute, Lisa Wienhold said, “I was told, for example, that one patient was smiling and didn’t want it to end. It changed their whole perspective. … The days are so incredibly long in the hospital, and they don’t have family or visitors. It’s something to break it up, something that makes you happy or feel better.”

Beginning in April the ASO will be participating in UAB’s Arts in Medicine Program. The Orchestra will broadcast prerecorded concerts to patients on various campuses including the UAB Women and Children’s Center and UAB Psychiatric Center. These performances will be available for UAB patients to enjoy through Closed Circuit Television.

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Meanwhile our programs at Children’s of Alabama feature pre-recorded small ensemble groups which are accompanied by the narration of an ASO Musician. These concerts are broadcast throughout the hospital, and are designed, not only with a variety of patients in mind, but also with an educational purpose. The narrator is able to guide the listener through each style and piece of music, as well as the role each instrument plays in the orchestra. Additionally, we are working towards premiering more intimate and private concerts similar to our work with UAB Hospital. 

Since the beginning of Music Meets Medicine, over 100 concerts have been performed virtually for COVID-19 and critical care patients. 

We'd like to extend a sincere thank you to our sponsors for making this program and its performances possible. 

The Comer Foundation