My good friend John Duffy, a physical therapist who knows a thing or two about healing, responded to this morning’s post by pointing out one particular music therapist:

A musician by the name of Mickey Hart has been using and advocating drums and beat to help those with health issues….even talking to Congress about it a while back.


Duffy turns us on to an article about the Grateful Dead drummer’s healing vibes:


Hart appeared for “Music Day” at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, part of a UCSF program using music to help patients reduce stress, anxiety and depression. Playing music for patients, and offering them the instruments and skills to play themselves, provides children with a sense of empowerment, distracts them from discomforts of treatments, and gives them a sense of normalcy in an otherwise unfamiliar environment. Music Day was spearheaded by the Child Life Department, which recognizes the integral role hospital child life programs play in the healing process.

“Music is fundamental to who we are as people,” said Michael Towne, manager of Child Life Services at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. “So music education and music therapy provide an amazing outlet for children here. It helps them deal with their hospitalization. It helps them cope; it helps them understand; and it helps them have joy while they’re here.”


Leyland Kim explains how the UCSF program works:

Patients ranging in ages from four to 18 gradually filled the sixth floor patio of the hospital, the site for the festive drum circle. Many walked in unassisted with their attentive nurses just a few steps behind. Others walked hesitantly, tightly holding onto their parents’ hands while dragging a clunky but necessary IV pole.

Kids learn to play drums during Music Day at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. As each child entered the patio, Hart greeted them with sincere enthusiasm. “Come on in!” he said. “Let’s make some music!”

It didn’t take long for Hart and his team to start the drum circle. Each soulful beat resonated deeply, gradually going from tribal to festive. He captivated the children’s imagination, and slowly they joined in. At first they patted the drums, the way one would pat a big dog, but they gradually — with Mickey’s supportive guidance — beat the drums with zest and rhythm, momentarily forgetting their illness and overcoming their shyness at the same time.


Says Mickey:

“This certainly stimulates the brain for sure,” Hart said. “Music takes you to a whole other world, a spirit world, and a world of opportunities, whether it be math, science, or technology. It’s a great inspirer. It’s a superhighway to the soul.”


Watch a magical healer in action:

More Mickey Hart: