Cancer Patient Music Therapy To Aid In Recovery

Memorial Sloan Kettering Integrative Medicine Service music therapist Karen Popkin at Memorial Hospital

Music therapist Karen Popkin entertains a patient at her bedside.

Music therapy uses the power of sound to encourage healing and promote a sense of well-being. Under the guidance of professionally trained music therapists, Memorial Sloan Kettering provides patients and their caregivers various opportunities to benefit from this mind-body therapy.

Our therapists are skilled at recognizing and addressing the psychological and emotional challenges that you may be facing as a patient or family member. In addition to being available to visit adults and children at the bedside, our music therapists lead regular group sessions for people receiving treatment in the hospital or as an outpatient.

Benefits of Music Therapy

Music can be a powerful tool to help you regulate your mood, express your feelings, and interact with others. While each person experiences music in his or her own way, many people find that music therapy can help:

  • increase feelings of relaxation, calm, and pleasure
  • ease fear and anxiety
  • enhance creativity through opportunities for self-expression
  • minimize the perception of pain
  • lessen feelings of isolation and loneliness

In one study at Memorial Sloan Kettering, patients who received music therapy while awaiting bone marrow transplantation had significantly less stress and depression. (1)

Types of Music Therapy

Love to sing? The MSK choir, Rising Voices, invites all patients, survivors, and caregivers looking for a lively, no-cost, and supportive outlet to join us in making music together. Call the Integrative Medicine Service at 646-888-0800 for details. No singing experience necessary — just enthusiasm!

Music therapy can be experienced in a receptive or an active mode. In the receptive mode, you simply listen to and absorb sound, which can provide a particularly powerful means of experiencing deep relaxation.

In the active mode, you participate in making music along with the therapist—either one-on-one or in a group setting. You do not have to have a musical background to sing or play along with the music, or to select the music and help write songs. There are many ways that you can get involved in the musical experience and draw pleasure from it.

While some people prefer to communicate only with the music therapist in the hospital room, others find comfort and stimulation in engaging in a group therapy session.

If you are an inpatient and would like to schedule a music therapy visit in your Memorial Sloan Kettering hospital room, please call our Integrative Medicine Service at 646-888-0888.

To attend a group music session, please call 212-639-5978 for a schedule. All groups are held in Memorial Hospital’s Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Patient Recreation Pavilion.