Tag: music

T-Swift Promotes Harmonic Healing for Teen Cancer Patients

T-Swift has done it again, and instead of only singing about life as a teenager, is now using her fame and resources to help give life and hope to teens with cancer.

Music therapy, something which has been growing over the past several years and which we discussed in a post last year, has just received a little celebrity endorsement in the city of brotherly love.

Taylor Swift, T-Swift, or T-Swizzle, has just donated $50,000 to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), to be used to create a high-tech music therapy cart that will rock the rooms of teenage cancer patients.

This cart will allow teenagers at the CHOP Cancer Center to create and produce their very own music as they undergo cancer treatment, to express themselves in a meaningful way while fighting perhaps the toughest battle of their life.

“Essentially a recording studio on wheels, this new tool will enable our Music Therapy Team to eliminate traditional barriers, and allow for limitless musical expression by our teen patients,” said Stephanie Rogerwick, child life manager at CHOP’s Cancer Center.

Since 2010, CHOP’s Cancer Center has been working on their Adolescent and Young Adult Initiative, which recognizes that teen cancer patients have better outcomes when their treatment is comprehensive and multidisciplinary and includes psychosocial services geared specifically towards teens.

One of the most important things for teen cancer patients is to have emotional support and be able to build resiliencies while fighting their battle with cancer.

Taylor Swift, whose music has been an emotional outlet, shield, and stronghold for young women around the world, is providing another way to do just that, through carts that will be available in patients’ rooms and in the Center’s teen room.

No news yet on when the cart will be built and ready to rock, but we can bet that when it does, teens at CHOP will be glad someone cares so much about when you’re 15 (or 13, 14, 16…).


Photo Credit: www.dailymail.co.uk

Mood Music: Music Therapy as a Medical Treatment?

What song cheers you up?  Causes you to tear up when you hear the opening riff?  Spurs immediate deep contemplation about the meaning of life?  Makes you get up and dance (or have the urge to), no matter how tired you are?  Music can have a strong effect on our feelings and emotions, and you have undoubtedly experienced music’s mood-altering power more than once.  But can music really have a significant medical impact?

Many would say yes, and a recent study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry observed that there was a greater improvement  in anxiety and depression scores in those who received music therapy than those who did not.

What is “music therapy”, and how does it work?

Music has been used for centuries as a healing influence, and music therapy has grown as a professional discipline over the past several decades.  Music therapy can include creating, singing, moving to and/or listening to music with a specially trained therapist.  For example, a music therapist might listen to music with a patient, and then talk about the feelings and memories the music evokes.  Many experts believe that music has the potential to engage people in a way that words cannot, and music therapy is used to help people facing any one of many conditions, from Alzheimer’s to cancer.

In the case of depression, which the CDC reports affects about 1 in 10 adults in the United States, music therapy could be a game-changer, especially for individuals who do not respond well to standard therapy.

Music therapy awareness and promotion is growing worldwide and taking many creative forms, including in Vancouver, Canada, which hosts the Music Therapy Ride, an annual motorcycle charity ride to support community-based music therapy services in British Columbia, and the US-based Play For Life campaign which was backed by celebrities like Justin Bieber, Rhianna and Taylor Swift, and supported cancer research and music therapy through the City of Hope Foundation.

Do you think music is a legitimate tool to be used as a part of treatment for depression and other medical conditions?  How would you respond to music therapy?

To learn more about music therapy in the United States and worldwide, check out The American Music Therapy Association.


Photo courtesy of: www.musictherapy.org

Young female listening to music

Power of the radio

I have often wondered how mainstream radio songs and their portrayal of drinking, sex, physical violence and other negative behaviors affects the listeners. Today, many songs normalize questionable behavior and some people may even argue that songs can promote unhealthy behavior. However, economics 101 tells me that if there is a demand for the songs, the artists will continue to write these types of songs. Some people are up in arms about the potential dangers of video games simulating violence, which may result in an increased likelihood of actually committing violence, yet no one seems outraged by the examples being put forth by the music we listen to everyday. Should health communicators have an opinion about the airways or even try to counteract these messages with their own main stream pro-health songs? For example:

For me, this music video developed by World Food Programme resonated. Having these images and sounds remain in my head even days after viewing this video for the first time, even now as I write this post I can still hear the melody; I can still see images of people all over the world snapping and clapping together.  This songs reminds me that it is important for public health and health communication campaigns to remember that health is global phenomena. It takes only one virus to cause an epidemic; it takes only one entity not doing its due diligence to result in problems for others. I think this song is more than a call to action to the general public to donate; it is also a call to action for us practitioners to think outside our silos and not forget the promises we make to protect the health of the public.

Songs about drug abuse

Turning on the radio I get flooded with songs about all kinds of bad health behaviors from getting drunk to using illegal drugs to lyrics describing violence. These songs that are idolized by teens are normalizing behaviors that teens (or anyone really) should not be engaging in.

Hearing the airwaves being filled with unhealthy messages, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, MusiCares and the Grammy Foundation are doing something about it. These organizations hosted a music contest to raise awareness of substance abuse among teens. The songs had to accurately depict drug abuse or promote a healthy behavior.

The winning song was composed by two individuals who are currently in rehab. Other submissions were about artists’ struggles with overcoming their drug addictions and coping with the addition of a family member.

The lyrics are musical yet spread an important message about the negative effects of drug abuse. Music is universal and having teens create their own songs can be cathartic and serve as an inspiration to others. Too bad the radio can’t have more songs from these artists.

Photo by: DavidMartynHunt

Songs about AIDS

To talk about HIV and AIDS in a sincere, yet non-somber way still seems a challenge. To tell about it and result in people dancing in the aisles seems even more difficult. Yet UNC alumnus Andrew Magill Finn achieved that with a show he produced, wrote and directed that premiered last week at UNC’s Memorial Hall: Mau a Malawi: Stories of AIDS. The show stems from an album that takes 10 true stories of people living with HIV and AIDS or who are involved directly with the epidemic in the country. The October 14 live production used actors, songs, video and dance to tell the 10 individuals’ tales in both English and Chichewa, a language spoken in Malawi.

The show’s songs dealt with weighty topics, such as rape and prostitution, but it still maintained an optimistic outlook for tackling HIV and AIDS in Malawi, and the people who strive to do so. A documentary film, If My Eyes Could Sing, also is being produced to tell the stories covered in the concert.

Finn was able to travel to Malawi to create the project through a Fulbright-mtvU grant he received in 2009. He helped put together the album and show with Malawian musician, Peter Mawanga. Proceeds from the album’s sale will go to Mawanga’s nonprofit organization, Talents of the Malawian Child. The organization gives arts skills and training to AIDS orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi.

Watch footage from the Memorial Hall event below:

What do you think of using song and other artistic mediums to talk about topics such as HIV and AIDS, and other health issues? Can this approach reach a broader range of people, and talk about health concerns accurately and in a more engaging way? Especially for issues that can be looked at in a global context?

Image courtesy Christian Heldt from Wikimedia

Video courtesy StoriesofAIDS.com

Hearing and iPods: Should something be done?

Photo of earbudsHearing loss in teens is up in the United States. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that about one in five teenagers has some degree of hearing loss.

Researchers found that in the early 1990s nearly 15 percent of teens had some degree of hearing loss, but a more recent survey from the mid 2000s found that nearly 20 percent were affected, an increase of about a third!

One of the researchers actually was surprised by the findings and thought the number of people affected should have decreased because of medical advances like better treatment of ear infections, according to a Reuters article.

So what’s to blame?

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