Courtesy of the University of Rochester Medical Center

The UR Medical Center (URMC) began a new 33-concert series called “The Healing Power of Music,” on Friday, Jan. 25. The program was created to allow students and alumni from the Eastman School of Music and the School of Medicine and Dentistry to perform in public areas of the hospital for patients and their families.  The concert series is part of URMC’s new commitment to patient- and family-centered care.

Director of the Strong Commitment Jackie Beckerman believes the hospital’s “commitment to our patients and families is to do everything possible to make the hospital experience more welcoming for them.”

Friday’s concert featured violinist Elizabeth Erhlich and violist Bridget Kinneary, who performed in the Blood and Marrow Unit of the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center.

“The Healing Power of Music” concerts were the brainchild of Emily Wozniak. Wozniak, a graduate student at the Eastman School of Music and the founder of the Sound ExChange orchestra, approached Beckerman and Strong Commitment employee Susie Kachurak about starting the concert series.

Sound ExChange began in 2011 shortly after Wozniak began her graduate studies. The group’s mission is to explore alternative ways of performing all genres of music and they will provide musicians for the remainder of the scheduled performances in the series.

The UR medical community has supported Sound ExChange since its inception. Wozniak hopes that this concert series “can serve as the launching point for what we hope will be  a long-standing partnership with URMC and other hospitals in Rochester.”

Sound ExChange will also be performing in Wilson Commons with four professors from RIT and percussionist Peter Ferry on Feb. 23.

“The Healing Power of Music” will potentially be the first step in an expansion of the hospital’s music therapy program.
The American Music Therapy Association defines music therapy as the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals.

Music therapy involves a therapeutic relationship with a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.

Rosemary Obi, a music therapist on staff at URMC’s Galisano Children’s Hospital, was quick to note that this concert series is not music therapy, but rather a form of community music outreach, which she says helps to raise appreciation for the use of music in a medical setting.

Obi is one of only two board-certified music therapists in the URMC network and the only one that works at Strong Memorial Hospital.

She hopes that the concert series will help the music therapy program grow and encourage the hiring of more music therapists as well as an expansion of music therapy efforts from exclusively pediatrics to the entire hospital.

Students interested in music therapy can look into the “Introduction to Music Therapy” course taught at Eastman or the Friends of Strong program at URMC.

O’Brien is a member of the class of 2016.

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