Musical Treatment

The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra has received a $15,000 grant from the Getty Foundation to continue and expand its work in music therapy, sending duos to perform for cancer patients at three local hospitals. “This is a blossoming area not just for us, but for major symphonies across the country,” says Maureen Byrne, SLSO community program director. The program grew out of SLSO’s Symphony cares efforts, initiated at St. Louis University cancer center in 2012. Teams of musicians perform in the small chemotherapy infusion room, with the goal of distracting patients from an unpleasant experience. The rhythm of the music matches the ideal heart rate at 60-72 beats per minute, which lowers the patient’s respiration rate and “puts a little bounce in the staff’s step,” Byrne says. With the institutional confidence the symphony gained by working with SIU, it has since expanded the program to Siteman Cancer Center and Mercy Children’s Hospital.

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