How to Use Music Therapy to Heal: Evangelyn’s Story

We are excited to share this incredible story from our music therapy team at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital, which is fully funded by the Peterson Family Foundation.

Click here to learn how to support our music therapy program.

How Music Therapy is Making a Difference for Evangelyn

Evangelyn is an 8-year-old girl who is full of life, creativity and sweetness. She loves music and to sing and dance, and has been receiving treatment at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital due to an astrocytoma brain tumor. During treatment, Evangelyn is also receiving physical therapy treatment to help regain some of her motor functioning.

Our music therapy team at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital worked with Evangelyn and decided to offer a co-treat session with her physical therapist, Christiana. In the above video, you will see music therapy intern, Shelby Marnett, and Expressive Arts Therapies manager, Jenna Bollard, facilitating music therapy interventions to promote entrainment and encourage increased endurance and a decreased perception of pain and duration of exercises.

Jenna and Shelby are guiding Evangelyn in some party dance moves while Christiana supports her and keeps her safe. The video also shows Evangelyn rocking out a personalized rendition of one of her favorite songs, “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” and practicing her weight shifting, balance, range of motion, coordination and strengthening her arms and legs. Evangelyn also worked with Shelby on her fine motor skills, learning to play the ukulele during their music therapy sessions.

Music therapy has tailored personalized interventions for Evangelyn that are informed by Dr. Thaut’s Neurologic Music Therapy research along with providing an experience that is motivating and fun.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” says Juana, Evangelyn’s mother. “It is so good to see her smiling and dancing again and she is doing so well with these movements.” Her mother also reported, “Playing the ukulele with Shelby is the only way Evangelyn would use her fingers and exercise her left side. It has been fun for her and really helpful in working her left side.”

Help us support more children’s rehabilitation with music by donating here! Thank you for your support!