Three Chords and a Purpose

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Christina would practicing some music therapy with a young patient.Christina Wood never really knows what each day is going to bring, but you can bet there will be music, along with respite for her young patients. As a music therapist at Mayo Clinic Children’s Center in Rochester, she spends much of her day “in one-on-one music therapy sessions with patients and families.” Every day is different based on their changing needs, she tells us

“It’s very humbling to be able to bring joy and hope to patients and families through music,” Wood says. And we’re guessing those patients are happy enough to see her carting musical instruments rather than more medical instruments.

“I almost always have my guitar with me while working with patients,” she says. One moment, she might be working with an infant to promote “self-regulation.” Another, helping toddlers make sense of their medical environment or helping older kids learn better pain-management skills. Whatever the situation, there’s a key for that. 

Thanks to a recent donation from Blue Star Connection, Wood and her patients have more musical instruments to choose from than ever. The organization made a donation to Mayo’s ComPASS program, which provides supportive care to infants, children and teenagers with life-threatening and life-limiting illnesses.

“Music therapy is more than just playing instruments. It also helps enhance the development of children while at the same time, helps ease the pain and suffering of being in the hospital,” Alison Larson, Administrative Services, tells us. “This donation enhances options for kids with a variety of abilities and allows them the opportunity to explore the world of music.”

InstrumentDonationWood tells us she’s hoping the donation will help to create more moments like the one she experienced when a young patient put on a musical performance to say “thanks” to his care team. “We rehearsed his favorite songs, created flyers to invite all the staff who had cared for him, and then he performed a concert,” Wood says. ”He wheeled himself up to the front of the atrium in his power wheelchair with a great smile on his face, and looked directly at the computer. (Wood recorded the performance for the patient’s father, who couldn’t be there himself.) He proudly sang, shook the maracas to the beat, and danced in his wheelchair for staff.”

Christina says she even convinced a few good-natured medical residents to serve as “back-up dancers” for one song, which she says helped put the whole thing over the top. “To see this patient want to thank staff for the care they provided by sharing his love for music was very moving,” she says. And that strikes a major chord with us.

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