Guitars Make Sweet Medicine at St. Jude
Amy Love isn’t a doctor, but for some kids at St. Jude her instruments of treatment are even more effective. As a music therapist Love totes around guitars, drums, bells and a song book instead of thermometers, needles, tongue depressors and stethoscopes.
Okay, she actually does carry a stethoscope. But more on that in a bit.
Love is a smile-maker, one of many at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. On the surface she’s just providing a distraction from the more serious treatment going on. First impressions can be deceiving, however — in addition to entertainment, Love is providing an outlet for emotions kids don’t know how to express otherwise. She recalls one child being so angry he broke a mallet pounding on a drum.
“Music is normalizing, empowering and an outlet for expression,” Love says at the St. Jude website.
One 3-year-old was sick all day, until she showed up with a smile and a cart full of musical options.
“Sometimes we use music therapy to promote physical goals,” Love says. “I may go into a patient’s room and the child is anxious. I match the tempo of my guitar picking to the child’s heart rate. As I slow the tempo, the child’s oxygen saturation may increase and the blood pressure may decrease.”
It's a sad reality that not every child who enters St. Jude returns home healthy. While survival rates for childhood cancers have soared from a 20 percent low in the 1960s to nearly 90 percent today, that still leaves 10 percent. For those kids — and their devastated parents — Love creates heartbeat recordings.
By placing a microphone into the business end of a stethoscope, she's able to record a child's heartbeat. Later she can use that beat to create a song unique to that boy or girl. These legacy recordings keep alive sounds a mother and father fear never hearing again. Watch the video — first seen on WOW 104.3 in Boise, Idaho — above to hear an example. Her performance begins at 1:30.
On Thursday and Friday Taste of Country has partnered with 16 Townsquare Media-owned radio stations to raise money and awareness for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. This innovating hospital is at the forefront of curing cancer and other life-threatening childhood illnesses, and they do it with a mother's touch. No family ever receives a bill from St. Jude, thanks to private contributions from people like you. Take a moment to watch Love's video, and then become a Partner in Hope at the link below.
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