Patient Care

URMC Teams Up with Student Musicians to Bring Patients 'The Healing Power of Music'

Jan. 21, 2013

Increasing numbers of studies show that music can have a therapeutic effect on patients in a healthcare setting, triggering powerful mental and physical changes that contribute to healing.

With that in mind, the University of Rochester Medical Center has launched a series of concerts to add music to the current palette of care for its patients. “The Healing Power of Music,” is a series of 33 performances is scheduled to begin Friday, Jan. 25, and will occur on two days per month for the remainder of 2013.

“Part of our commitment to our patients and families is to do everything possible to make the hospital experience more welcoming for them,” says Jackie Beckerman, director of Patient-and Family-Centered Care and The Strong Commitment. “With every new study, we are learning that music has shown to be effective in relieving stress, lowering inflammation and reducing pain. Offering music to patients was a logical next step for us and one more tool that we can use to make patients feel better and heal faster,” she said.

Identifying the right musicians for the task was not difficult. URMC was able to draw from a talented group of performers from the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music and student musicians from the School of Medicine and Dentistry.  They come together to perform as the orchestra Sound ExChange.

Sound Exchange has made a name for itself locally for their community outreach and breaking down barriers between performers and audience. Sound ExChange co-founder Emily Wozniak has a special reason for wanting to bring music to patients. She said, “Performing for patients is important for me. When my own mom was being treated for stage IV cancer, she told me how recordings of my classical music performances had a major impact on her ability to heal. She said it gave her the strength to get through painful treatments and long hospital stays.”

Golisano Children’s Hospital has been harnessing the healing effects of music for many years. A licensed, board-certified music therapist works with children and adolescents who are experiencing side effects from treatments and symptoms of their illnesses. Music therapy has also been helpful to pediatric patients dealing with their feelings about having a serious illness or being hospitalized and away from family and friends.

Performances will consist of a soloist or chamber quartet to minimize disruption to other patients in units who may not choose to hear music. A small number of performances are planned for public spaces and casual bystanders are welcome to attend, however, the concerts are primarily intended for patients and families.

The first performance will take place from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25, in the family waiting area of the Blood and Marrow Unit of the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center. The following Thursday, Jan. 31, a performance will take place on the seventh floor of the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center.

The mission of the University of Rochester Medical Center is to improve the well-being of patients and communities by delivering state-of-the-art, compassionate, patient- and family-centered health care, enriched by education, science and technology. For more information on The Strong Commitment and patient- and family-centered initiatives, visit

Sound ExChange ( is devoted to exploring alternative ways of presenting music to reinvigorate the traditional concert experience and engage diverse audiences. It was founded on the belief that music is not only relevant to society, but essential to its well-being. For more information visit their website.