It has been said that harmonies can be healing. In fact, recent research is illuminating how music affects the brain and other body systems in a measurable way. At a bare minimum, it provides a level of comfort to many patients.
As one of the many student-led initiatives at MSIH, students are sharing their musical talents with patients at Soroka Medical Center. Student, Rachel Gaufberg, took the initiative to create a music therapy branch of the palliative care program at MSIH. Prior to matriculating at MSIH, Rachel served as a volunteer music therapist at Boston Children’s Hospital. She was profoundly impacted by the effect music had on patients, and was inspired to bring her experience to Soroka.
Last semester, Rachel started bringing her guitar around to play for patients. While the music may help in healing, it is also a wonderful way to bridge the language barrier, since many patients at Soroka do not speak English. Music is universal and as Rachel notes, it is a “great way to connect with patients despite not sharing the same verbal language.”
The music has elicited many incredible reactions from patients, including joy, meaning and calm in an otherwise stressful and possibly hopeless-feeling situation. Everyone is very grateful for the MSIH musicians, and they have become popular with patients and staff alike.
More recently, Rachel has started going to the pediatric ward which she especially enjoys. There, “she lets the patients touch the instrument and pluck a string (with careful sanitation before and afterwards)— the reactions range from fascination to complete joy. Whatever the reaction, it’s a well needed change from the mundanity of the hospital (for both the child and the parent), and the cycling in and out of doctors and nurses.”
Now, several students are participating as music volunteers and their delicate melodies drift through the hospital wards. “There are so many students with musical talent at MSIH,” says Rachel, and much like Odeya’s palliative care volunteer initiative, students can volunteer whenever they have time. Rachel is eager for the program to continue to grow this semester and she is hopeful that music will be spread more widely throughout the hospital.