Music Therapy Advocates and Ways You Can Support

Music therapy is a burgeoning, evidenced-based approach to healing and nurturing patients with varied illnesses. At the Peterson Family Foundation, we support music therapy nationally and internationally including programs at:

Support music therapy to help sick children and teens in hospitals battling illnesses.

With the help of advocates and donations, we are able to support and grow music therapy programs in each of our hospitals. Since its inception, the Peterson Family Foundation has granted more than $4 million to the programs it supports. We don’t take the decision to support a program or institutions lightly; we carefully research, interview and vet each organization, physician and scientist before endorsing them.

Since we started our UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Program in 2014 we have increased our impact by 267%. With the expansion of therapists at UCSF and the start of our program at UCLA we increased the number of children receiving music therapy from 297 in 2014 to 789 children in 2016. We look forward to helping many more hospitals create and expand their music therapy programs in the future.

In addition to the generous support from our donors, positive recognition of music therapy is crucial for the advancement of the field in hospitals across the globe. Here are some incredible supporters of music therapy and information on how you can become an advocate yourself.

Notable Music Therapy Advocates

Ben Folds:

One of the most popular and known supporters of music therapy is Ben Folds. The former front man for the Ben Folds Five, he recently wrote a long and detailed Facebook post for his support of music therapy. Here’s a brief introduction to his musings:

“Why I advocate Music Therapy:

I’m not a Music Therapist but I believe in it strongly enough to bring attention to it.

We all have a relative or a friend who’s had a stroke, who’s autistic, who’s had brain damage, hearing loss, mental illness or gone through a serious emo phase (sorry, I’m really not trying to be funny), and so on. We also all know on an intuitive level that music is pretty powerful. If you spend 5 minutes to view some evidence, the whole thing will click for you. It’s an easy sell because it’s real and solid. From rewiring the neuropaths of a stroke or brain damage victim – – to lowering perceived pain levels, to helping those who lost the ability to speak find their voice again.

It’s safe, cost effective, and in some cases even insured. It incorporates some heavy science and research, and, most importantly, it gets results.

We’re living through an era of intense technological advancements and sometimes it’s easy to forget common sense. As we find we can’t always afford the luxuries of some of our advancements, either in terms of money or even damage to health or environment, we are opening our minds to some more basic approaches that get us back in touch with what works. Consider my father having solar panels on his house – his entire electric bill is a buck fifty a month. Sun powered energy seemed far-fetched while we could afford the ‘traditional’ methods of generating energy.

Recently, we’re finding a need to return to some common sense. This is how I feel about music therapy…”

Ben even went so far as to create a social media event using the hashtag, #FollowMTWeek on Twitter to spread the word about music therapy.

Former President Barack Obama:

As we’ve mentioned before, music therapy plays an important role in serving the military. Music therapy was used in World War I and World War II by volunteer musicians who would play for wounded soldiers. For our current military, a historic program was established through the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). In partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense, the NEA brought a music therapy program to patients at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. This program reflects the growing trend of creative art therapy programs in healthcare settings.

On November 13, 2014, Former President Obama spoke about the importance of music therapy in the recovery of a wounded warrior at “A Salute to the Troops: In Concert at the White House.” In regards to a wounded soldier, Christmas Luis, Obama noted that “[In] the months and years that followed, he kept fighting back with the help of hundreds of hours of music therapy. And today, Luis can see again, he can eat again, he can speak again. He’s even playing, as I understand, a little bit of golf. And every night, he still goes to sleep with music playing.”

Chris Martin:

Chris Martin and Oliver Jacobson playing for sick children at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco.

Chris Martin, the lead singer of Coldplay, is not only an advocate for music therapy but has also used it in his own life.

Before the Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show, Chris Martin sat down with our very own music therapist, Oliver Jacobson, to perform in front of a group of kids. You can watch the incredible moment on Oliver’s YouTube channel.

For his own life, Chris Martin used music therapy to help him work through his divorce to actress Gwyneth Paltrow: “I feel so grateful. Music, especially over the last couple of years, has been very alchemizing… (If) you’re going through something difficult in your life, music for me is always a friend and something that helps you to figure things out, that’s what I’m doing in the middle of the night.”

How to Become a Music Therapy Advocate

While you may not be a celebrity or able to promote music therapy on a large scale, you still have abilities and tools to advocate for music therapy. In addition to raising awareness by telling your family and friends about it or sharing interesting articles on your social media pages, here are three ways to give your support to the cause:

  1. Donate to Hospitals and Programs

Your contribution helps support hospitalized children with the gift of music therapy.

As listed above, we support four hospitals across the globe that have music therapy programs. Though we are working to support each of those hospitals, we need additional help to sustain and develop these programs to their full potential. A donation to any one of our hospitals through the Peterson Family Foundation will go towards hiring music therapists, buying instruments, and investing in state-of-the-art technology to record produce patient created songs.

Contributions from donors have helped us expand and even double the music therapy programs for some of our partner hospitals! Please visit our Contributions page to learn about donating, memorials & honorariums and matching gifts that may apply to your place of business.

  1. Become a Certified Music Therapist

If you’re not a parent or patient going through treatment with music therapy, but still want to make a difference and support children who need this amazing form of healing, consider becoming a certified music therapist. As this wonderful therapy continues to grow and become more accepted in the medical field, so will the need for passionate and certified therapists you have a desire to help children through music. By becoming a music therapist, you’re supporting the advancement of the therapy whenever you go to work. You can learn more about becoming a certified music therapist in this blog post.

  1. If You’re a Parent of a Patient
    1. Observe Music Therapy Sessions:If your child is involved in a music therapy program, take a moment to observe a music therapy session. Be there first hand to experience the real outcomes and magic of music therapy.
    2. Support Music Listening:Buying an iPod and a gift card to iTunes is a great way to give your child control over their musical tastes. Another great option is a ‘Family Spotify Account’, which allows you and your child to find, make playlists, and listen to countless songs for one monthly fee. Music listening reduces stress, and empowers the listener to engage in self-care.
    3. Be Present:This may sound easy enough, but listening to your child’s song, whether it is sung or played on an instrument, can mean so much to them. For children and teens, it can be scary to express themselves creatively, but doing so provides a cathartic outlet and much needed self-esteem.

You can find your more ways to get involved with music therapy as a parent by reading this blog post from our site.

Begin Advocating

If you would like to support music therapy, we would love for you to become an advocate! We are passionate about this cause and believe that it provides a tremendous amount of relief to children who are in hospitals. Please read these additional blog posts to learn more about music therapy and how it helps children and teens:

About the Peterson Family Foundation
The Peterson Family Foundation was founded in 2003 to enhance, restore and improve the quality of life for all human beings. Our primary mission is to seek out and support experts and institutions dedicated to enhancing and improving the lives of people dealing with illnesses requiring a stay at a medical institution by bringing music therapy to as many hospitals as possible. Learn more at our website or share your story with us.