The Healing Power of Music

David couldn’t wait. He arrived in the 6th floor playroom more than an hour early for his first music therapy group. During his one-hour session with music therapist, Jennifer Zink, David was in his “happy place.” He sang at the top of his 4-year-old lungs, strummed the guitar, beat the drums and boogied in his wheelchair. The last thing on his mind was his multiple injuries including a fractured skull and leg, the result of a car accident just before New Year’s Eve.

The healing power of music was working its magic for David and the other children in Jennifer’s Toddler/Pre-school music therapy group – one of several such groups she holds each week. It was a joy to watch the children react to each song. I was reminded this was music with a purpose when one little girl had to leave the group shortly after arriving. She was headed to the operating room for a procedure but her care team didn’t want her to miss a little time in music therapy. “She loves Jennifer and the music always makes her smile,” noted her Child Life Specialist as she wheeled the little girl out of the room. It was sobering to think about where this sweet toddler was headed but it was clear she headed there with a smile.

Jennifer Zink, our full-time music therapist, is a key member of the clinical care team here at Nationwide Children’s. She earned her music therapy degree from Ohio University and completed a six-month clinical residency prior to beginning work here at Children’s. She puts a lot of miles on her guitar and traveling music cart covering 20+ units at the hospital working with individual patients and holding groups for Toddlers, Teens and School-age children each week. She also has special certification to work with the premature babies in our neonatal intensive care unit. With these tiny newborns she focuses on introducing positive sound to their fragile ears and creating a calming environment.

Jennifer is quick to point out that the music is wonderful but what children prefer most is the sound of their parent’s voices. She often helps make recordings for children of their parents singing songs, reading stories, saying prayers or leaving special messages. She encourages parents to sing to their children, regardless of their singing voices. “It’s the voice they most want to hear,” she adds.

Back in the 6th Floor Playroom, David reluctantly says goodbye to Jennifer at the end of the session but not without a repeat performance of his favorite song, “You are my Sunshine.” As he was wheeled back to his room David was already asking about the next time with “the music lady.” Mom assured him they could listen to music in their room and there would soon be another group where Jennifer will work her musical magic once again.

This video captured a bit of our time with David in music therapy. I would love to hear from you if you’ve had an experience with Jennifer or any of our music therapy team here at Nationwide Children’s.

Donna Teach
Donna Teach is Chief Marketing & Communication Officer at Nationwide Children's. Her job is to help the hospital feel "connected" – Connected to each other, connected to our patients and their families, referring physicians, the community and the world.

One thought on “The Healing Power of Music

  1. Piper Hill on said:

    Dear Music Therapists,

    My name is Piper Hill, and I am a junior at New Albany High School making plans to complete my Senior Seminar this summer. I am a passionate musician, but I also have an interest in psychology. When I learned about music therapy, I could not believe that something so seemingly perfect for me existed. I knew that through the Senior Seminar program at New Albany I would have the perfect opportunity to explore this as a possible career choice. I am looking for a place to do a music therapy internship this summer, and for someone who could be my On-Site Advisor. This would be the person I would shadow throughout the internship and who would guide me through my learning experience.

    In order to complete the requirements for Senior Seminar, I need 80 hours of interning. Although my schedule is limited this summer by a summer musical, I am free during the weeks of June 17th -21st, June 24th – 28th, July 29th – August 2nd, and Aug 5th – 8th. I understand this does not provide much flexibility, but I would really appreciate it if you would consider helping me with this project. Also, I understand that this is short notice, but it would be marvelous if you could respond within the next week.

    Thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule to read this. This experience would be critical in determining not only my college choice, but my career path as well. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Piper Hill

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