Music therapy

Tuning into what kids' need

Queensland Children’s Hospital has one of Australia’s largest paediatric music therapy program, playing a vital role in improving the quality of life and recovery of sick and injured kids for more than 25 years.

Music therapy is so much more than simply playing music. Music therapy involves the use of musical activities to engage with patients of all ages, aid their rehabilitation and recovery and help them reach their full healing potential.

Research shows that music helps build, or rebuild, important neurological pathways that can help patients to regain control of their language, speech and coordination.

This type of therapy incorporates the use of all senses, not just auditory – it’s about movement, touch and speech as well.

As well as assisting with neurological function, the use of music therapy has been shown to reduce pre-operative anxiety and distress and improve positive coping for children in hospital. Music therapists work throughout the hospital to calm children, and help them relax while undergoing a painful or uncomfortable procedure.

Music therapy can also assist following treatment or surgery in supporting physical rehabilitation and emotional recovery from what can be a traumatic experience for many children. It can help to make such a difference to a child’s day and their entire stay – making hospital a far less daunting place.

Music therapy allows families to be involved in the therapy process. Parents can join in and participate with their kids in music therapy activities and have a role in their treatment or rehabilitation.

Children are naturally drawn to music and exploring sound, and music therapy allows them to experience something positive, engaging and fun. For many patients, their music therapy sessions are the highlight of their day and even their entire hospital stay.

Thanks to the support of our donors, the music therapy team provides more 200 hours of music therapy each week, and last year helped more than 2,500 patients across the Queensland Children’s Hospital.

Dr Jeanette Kennelly leads the music therapy program at the Queensland Children’s Hospital. You can read an article about Jeanette here.  

Henry’s Story

When Henry was three years old, he was admitted to hospital with anterior horns transverse myelitis, which among other things meant that he was unable to breathe by himself. Henry’s condition resulted in an ICU stay that lasted 210 days.

For both Henry and his mum Eugenie, the music therapy program made a huge difference to the family’s hospital experience.

“At the beginning of Henry’s stay at the hospital he was very unwell, and we were introduced to music therapy as a way to calm him.

“He’s had music therapy ever since and it’s just a fantastic program.

“Even in the beginning when all he could do is lie down and smile it made a huge difference to his mood, and the smile on his face meant the world to us.

“When he was feeling up to it, he’d sing along and play music with the therapists and he absolutely loved it.

“They’d play all types of beautiful music and would even play songs about farm animals which got him so excited.

“Staying in hospital can be really scary for kids and music was a really great way to get Henry feeling more comfortable and relaxed.

“It meant a lot because we got to see Henry happy and after he’s had some surgery or a procedure, a music therapist would come and cheer him up when he needed it most.

“It can be so hard to not know how to comfort your child when they’re scared or in pain – music therapy just takes the stress away and when he played music it just calmed him.

“And when the focus was on having fun, he’d be banging on the drums and having the best time.

“Even away from the hospital, I still use music at home to get him to sleep – it’s a big part of our routine.”

Henry

How to access Music Therapy at Queensland Children’s Hospital

Patients can access the Music Therapy service through a formal referral from their doctor.