The function of music is to release us from the tyranny of conscious thought.
- English conductor Sir Thomas Beecham (1879 – 1961)
One of the most groundbreaking programs at Beth Israel Medical Center is the Louis and Lucille Armstrong Music Therapy Program. For the past 20 years, it has provided music therapy to an extremely diverse cross-section of patients ranging from premature babies in the neonatal ICU, to geriatric patients in palliative care, to musicians at The Louis Armstrong Center for Music & Medicine, where Stephan Quentzel, MD, and Joanne Loewy, DA, LCAT, MT-BC, and their team treat performing artists from Broadway to the subway. Care is provided on both an inpatient and outpatient basis, with individuals, groups and families.
Music has been used as an adjunct to healing since ancient times, chronicled in the Bible and writings from ancient Egypt, Greece, China, India and Rome. The American Music Therapy Association defines music therapy as “the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.”
Decades of research have shown that music therapy has the potential to:
• Alleviate pain and stress
• Regulate heart rate and blood pressure
• Improve breathing
• Ease anxiety
• Reduce depression
• Enhance quality of life
A recent study published in Pediatrics showed that premature infants who received music therapy in the NICU improved in vital signs, feeding and sleep patterns. Furthermore, their parents’ stress levels decreased significantly. Another recent study in JAMA Pediatrics showed that while receiving an IV procedure in the ER, children experienced less distress and anxiety—and so did their parents. Moreover, 76 percent of the clinicians who administered the IVs while music played said the procedure was very easy, compared to 38 percent of clinicians in the non-music group. Pain and distress from medical procedures can have lasting effects in children; alleviating their distress has significant consequences for their subsequent development.
The Therapy Session
A music therapy session may involve listening to music, guided visualization, relaxation, or even improvisation and composition. As a nonverbal intervention that can evoke strong emotional response and catharsis, music therapy helps people process emotions when they have trouble articulating them, such as young children, people with autism, and stroke survivors who have difficulty speaking, to name a few.
The Music Therapists
The Louis Armstrong Center music therapists conduct cutting-edge research in the various ways music can be incorporated into medical care, including easing the side effects of cancer treatment, enhancing the breathing capacity of children with asthma, and promoting better recovery from spinal surgery. They are trained in multicultural music from many traditions, as well as skilled in performance with piano, guitar, string and wind instruments and voice. Director Joanne Loewy, DA, LCAT, MT-BC, is the coeditor-in-chief of the international, peer-reviewed journal Music and Medicine.
A Special Event
On Monday, September 23, The Louis Armstrong Center for Music & Medicine will host a “What a Wonderful World” cocktail event and silent auction honoring legendary folksinger Pete Seeger, Beth Israel Director of Social Work Fran Silverman and patient Joe Regan. Proceeds of the event, which will open with the Grammy and Tony award-winning Broadway cast of Once, help support the Center’s programs. For more information and tickets, please visit the event web page.
For questions about music therapy or referrals for yourself, your loved ones or patients, call (212) 420-2704 or e-mail email@example.com.
For More Information about Music Therapy
Facebook page of the Louis Armstrong Center