Are you stressed? Do you have trouble getting to sleep? Are you in pain? Music can be used to address all of these issues, as well as many others. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) developed and recently launched a Music and Wellness website so that anyone can have access to ways of using music to help support their needs. The website also includes information on how to initiate or develop programs in your own community.
The idea for the program and the website came about because of PSO violist Penny Brill’s experiences with diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer in 1999. She decided to experiment with the use of music to see if it would help with the anxiety of waiting for test results and the stress of undergoing many surgeries. She found that music reduced her anxiety, reduced the amount of anesthesia she needed during surgery and speeded her recovery time. It helped her rehabilitation, it helped with attitude and it was a major source of support. Because there were no music therapists at the hospital where she was treated, she became an advocate, spreading the word about how effective music was in diagnosis and treatment. She developed a wellness program to introduce music and music therapy in Pittsburgh’s mainstream hospitals, as well as to introduce music as a stress-management tool for members of the community.
After music therapists were employed at the new Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC (CHP), the PSO teamed with them to design and implement a Music and Wellness program at the hospital. Now the PSO provides musicians who play at CHP on a regular basis. In 2011-12 the program expanded to include the Veterans Affairs campus in Fox Chapel, and in 2012-13 the PSO began collaborating with UPMC Shadyside Hospital as well. And with the experience and community support gained from the continued relationship with CHP, as well as the expansion to other populations, the PSO was able to design, build and launch the Music and Wellness website.
The website is intended to be a free and comprehensive resource center for patients and their families, healthcare providers, musicians and arts administrators. By sharing its resources, the PSO hopes to empower individuals to use music to promote health and wellness. It includes information about the PSO program, as well as in-depth program handbooks for musicians, arts administrators and healthcare providers interested in designing, implementing and evaluating programs. The website also has a weekly blog that will empower people to use music to live healthier lifestyles by covering topics like music and exercise and music and stress relief.
As we move forward we intend to:
- Maintain and expand programming at CHP, the VA, UPMC Shadyside and other facilities
- Continue developing the website by adding weekly blog posts, additional videos and photos as we gain experience and expand our program
- Provide more professional development opportunities for people involved in the program, as well as other interested individuals.
We hope that you will find the website useful. We welcome your input and encourage you to write to us with your ideas and comments. You can reach us through the contact form on our website.