Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Children's Hospital Logo
Connect With Us:

Monroe Carell Jr.
Children's Hospital
at Vanderbilt
2200 Children's Way
Nashville, TN 37232

(615) 936-1000

Children's Hospital Logo
GUIDE to Children's Hospital
For Patients and Families
Printer friendly version of this page  E-mail someone a link to this pageBookmark and Share
Benefits of Music Therapy

Our music therapists are trained to meet children where they are by using their knowledge, creativity, and skills to create patient-specific treatment plans. Vanderbilt researchers are using a new mom's own singing voice to help preemie babies learn an essential skill that is often difficult for them.

Music Therapy at Children's HospitalPain management and relaxation

The music therapist sits at the bedside of a four-year-old boy while she strums her guitar to the rhythm of his breathing. She helps him to visualize what his abdominal pain might look like to help him imagine the pain getting smaller. The strum of the guitar slows the rhythm of his breath until he is able to relax enough to fall asleep.

Emotional expression

A 17-year-old girl relies heavily on her faith to get her through a difficult diagnosis. The music therapist encourages her to write her favorite passages from the scripture and helps set these lyrics to music, creating a song entitled, “Keeps Me Going.” This song eventually serves as a legacy by which her family can remember her.

Normalization and socialization

A group of young children sit around a table choosing and playing a variety of instruments. The music therapist names each child in the opening “Hello Song,” and invites each one to choose and sing their favorite song. The children are part of a music group like they might encounter in school, but can’t because they are in the hospital. “Wheel on the Bus” and “Ants Go Marching” serve the same purpose, to bring children and music together in a fun, normal social environment.

Patient playing a drum


A drum and a xylophone go a long way to distract a child. Using musical improvisation and exploration can help a child focus on the sound being creating rather than a procedure that is going on or will happen soon. The child can play a simple melody on the xylophone as the music therapist sings a familiar song while he is getting stitches. Or, the music therapist can engage the child in a non-verbal drum “conversation” alternating back and forth in response to the other’s drum beat. Before the child knows it, time has passed that was not spent worrying.

Last Edited: July 29, 2016
Valued Participant of Vanderbilt Health Affiliated Network