Concerts at hospitals help ease anxiety for visitors, staff
Some days, the piano in the first-floor lobby of the Medical University’s Hollings Cancer Center sits idle while life goes on all around it.
For more information on volunteering, visit musc health.com/volunteer.
Patients, caregivers and medical personnel stream by on their way to appointments and visits.
On other days, the baby grand springs to life, thanks to volunteers, and provides a musical escape for anyone close enough to hear.
During a recent lunch hour, Ruben Camacho’s students from the Charleston International Music School Summer Festival performed classical pieces on piano and strings.
“I came down for lunch and was pleasantly surprised to hear a concert from these most talented young people,” said Vincent Cuppler of Myrtle Beach, who spends a couple of days a week at the hospital caring for a patient. “It is a nice break and a good stress reliever.”
Volunteers also often play their own instruments in the second- and third-floor waiting areas and in the infusion suite where patients receive chemotherapy, said Diane Aghapour, patient support services coordinator for the Hollings Cancer Center.
“It’s great for our patients and their families,” Aghapour said. “We love having music here. We think it’s a good fit and we welcome the community to support us, as long as the music is calming and peaceful.”
The cancer center is not the only part of the Medical University of South Carolina that offers music therapy. The Ashley River Tower and the main hospital also have pianos that are regularly played by volunteers.
With the exception of special groups that perform, such as the music school students, volunteers must go through the hospital’s volunteer training process.
Alaine Gallagher, whose mother has been a patient in the Ashley River Tower for several days, said she has appreciated the respite during a busy time.
“I have found it very soothing,” she said. “You never know when there’s going to be someone playing, but when there is, it’s really nice. I feel like I’ve been so rushed, and one day I actually sat down here and listened for a while. It was really refreshing.”
Music is clinically recognized to influence biological responses, such as heart rate, blood pressure, respiration rate, cardiac output, muscle tone and the immune system, according to Music as Medicine. It also can help patients gain a sense of control, independence and confidence.
“Music is very soothing, very healing,” Aghapour said. “The hospital can be an anxious place to be, so anything we can do to reduce the anxiety and bring in some beauty and calm is worthwhile.”
Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or www.facebook.com/brindge.