Music Therapy For Hospitalized or Medically Fragile Children
The Ariana Miller Healing Notes Program uses music therapy to improve the cognitive, physical, psychological and social well-being of children facing severe, complex, or chronic healthcare 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 children receiving medical care as well as their families.
Healing Notes Started Life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
The story of Healing Notes 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, Healing Notes contracted music therapy services to select patients at Rady Children’s Hospital—San Diego. In 2010, Resounding Joy and Healing Notes merged. 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.
In 2010, thanks to this 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 more than 1,500 children, primarily recovering from cardiac surgery or being hospitalized for cardiac ailments. In 2019, the Ariana Miller Music with Heart Program completed a merge with Healing Notes to create the Ariana Miller Healing Notes Program.
The Heart of a Child benefit concert, which funds 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 RCHSD and making an incredible impact on the care of these children.
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.
Last year, we recorded the following general 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.
Dr. Barbara Reuer’s brother, Ronnie Reuer, was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD)—one of nine dystrophies—characterized by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness. In the absence of special education in the 1960s, the Reuer family found that music quickly became his favorite subject and pastime. Ronnie battled multiple bouts of pneumonia that ultimately took his life when he was just eight years old. Dr. Barbara Reuer, Resounding Joy’s Executive Director, created Ronnie’s Fund to honor her youngest brother. Resounding Joy offer in-home music therapy services for medically fragile children in San Diego County at no cost (as funding permits).
Resounding Joy defines “medically fragile child” as a child who:
Is between the ages of 0-18 years,
Has a serious illness or condition anticipated to last at least 12 or more months,
Requires ongoing medical supervision, and
Has diminished quality and/or length of life.
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.
Shine & Sing are small group sessions for young, medically fragile children and their families. Some groups are designed for children with a specific diagnoses, while others accept a broad range.
Common diagnoses include:
Rare genetic & chromosomal disorders
Cardiac abnormalities/birth defects
100% of 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!