Music therapy for infants, toddlers and children

Our Sounds of Healing program (also known as the Ariana Miller Sounds of Healing Notes Program) uses music therapy to improve the cognitive, physical, psychological and social well-being of children facing severe, complex, or chronic medical issues in a variety of settings. Our goal is to create positive experiences that contribute to the overall quality of life and progression of health for these children as well as their families.

Program History

This program began in 2003, when Allison Tartari, a San Diego mother of a newborn son struggling for his life against a blood disorder, happened to witness the profound impact that music therapy had on the health of another infant sharing the Rady Children’s Hospital—San Diego neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) with her son.

Allison immediately advocated the use of music therapy for her own infant and rejoiced when his condition improved following treatment. Determined to enable other hospitalized children to benefit from music therapy, Allison named and founded Healing Notes as a California 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

From 2003 to 2009, under Allison’s leadership, Sounds of Healing Notes contracted music therapy services to select patients at Rady Children’s Hospital—San Diego. In 2010, Resounding Joy and Sounds of Healing Notes merged. Sounds of Healing Notes retained its name as a program of Resounding Joy, and to this day, provides music therapy services to pediatric patients and their families at no cost.

In 2008, the San Diego community lost a loving and caring young musician named Ariana Miller to congenital heart disease. Ariana was a gentle soul with a deep love of music. From the first moment of her fragile life, she responded to the rhythm of musical sound. As she struggled with her disease, surviving six open-heart surgeries and countless other invasive procedures, it was music that brought joy into her life. Although she ultimately lost her battle with congenital heart disease, her passionate love of music and its healing effect lives on through this program.

woman and child playing

In 2010, thanks to funding provided in Ariana’s memory, Resounding Joy extended music therapy to children suffering with heart disease at Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego. Since that time, the program has become an integral part of the hospital’s cardiac care, providing sessions at no cost to thousands of children, primarily with cardiac ailments, but also with other illnesses. In 2019, the Ariana Miller Music with Heart Program completed a merger with Sounds of Healing Notes to create the Ariana Miller Sounds of Healing Notes Program.

The Heart of a Child benefit concert, which funds Sounds of Healing Notes, has become the premier showcase of the very best young musicians in San Diego County and features a diverse array of talented vocalists and instrumentalists. Due to the generous support of sponsors and patrons, Resounding Joy continues offering daily music therapy at Rady Children’s Hospital making an incredible impact on the care of these children.

Our Impact

Learn more about the important work we do with children including details data of outcomes and outreach.

Our Programs


Baby playing with a rattle

Resounding Joy’s experienced, Board-Certified music therapists (MT-BC) provide inpatient music therapy at Rady Children’s Hospital – San Diego (RCHSD). We offer services in multiple units, for patients affected by cardiac, neurological, or psychiatric diagnoses, or those at the Peckham Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. Our music therapists collaborate with nurses, doctors, and other medical staff, including co-treating with physical therapy or during chemotherapy treatments. Each session is designed to meet the patient’s individual goals.

Historically, we ‘ve recorded the following pre/post session results:

  • 51% decrease in pain.
  • 78% decrease in anxiety.
  • 81% improvement in mood.
  • 96% of children fully calmed (per FLACC score, designed for nonverbal patients). This includes children initially unable to be consoled.
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Woman and boy waving to the camera

Resounding Joy offers in-home and private virtual music therapy services for children with significant medical challenges in San Diego County, California, and Hamilton County, Indiana. Sessions are at no cost or on a sliding scale, thanks to support of generous funders like The Conrad Prebys Foundation.

Free pediatric services are prioritized for children who:

  • Have a medical diagnosis that will last a year or more,
  • Require ongoing medical supervision, and
  • Have significant motor, emotional, social, developmental, and/or cognitive challenges,
  • OR have a terminal diagnosis with a life expectancy of under one year.

Music therapists use customized, evidence-based interventions, such as musical instrument play, therapeutic singing, songwriting, and music-assisted relaxation, to meet individual goals and improve quality of life.

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Shine & Sing

Shine & Sing is a unique pediatric music therapy program. Designed to meet on a weekly basis, this program offers not just the benefits of one-on-one music therapy, but also socialization and peer support. Designed by Resounding Joy, this program can be customized to specific ages and medical or emotional needs.

Current hosting organizations:

  • GiGi’s Playhouse San Diego, a Down Syndrome Achievement Center
  • GiGi’s Playhouse Indianapolis
  • California Avenue School
  • Alcott Elementary

Most surveyed parents “strongly agree” that music therapy:
“Increased my child’s overall health and well-being”
“Increased my overall health and well-being”
“Helped my child work towards his/her goals”
Join a group near you, or start one of your own!

To learn more about this program, email Rachel Gant, MT-BC (San Diego) or Lindsay Zehren, MT-BC (Indiana).

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