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Music Therapy Inspires Cancer Patients

CancerWise - December 2008


By Deborah E. Thomas

For many people, music is a powerful tool that connects them to their emotions and unites them with others. That is why music can be an effective form of therapy.

Michael Richardson, a music therapist at M. D. Anderson since 1991, may have several goals in mind. When working with children in the Pediatric Clinic, socialization, deep breathing and self-expression are his main focus.

These patients may feel alone and isolated, but when Richardson asks them to work in groups, they start to bond. He has patients “sing” each other questions, such as “What’s your name?” or “What’s your favorite food?” Then he incorporates their answers into a song that everyone sings.

Richardson encourages patients to express their feelings by playing musical instruments, writing songs, singing or listening to music. He helps them articulate their emotions through lyrics and non-threatening music making.

Music therapy is gaining worldwide attention. In November, four guitars signed by Latin recording artists Gian Marco, Jon Secada and Noel Schajris were donated to M. D. Anderson’s Music Therapy Program by Epiphone. They were presented by Latin Recording Academy President Gabriel Abaroa.


© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center