KSO Music & Wellness
In 2013, the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra received a Getty Education and Community Investment Grant through the League of American Orchestras to further expand its KSO Music & Wellness program primarily at the University of Tennessee Medical Center’s Cancer Institute. The program, which currently provides live musical performances for patients, visitors and staff, aims to enhance the healing process and benefit patients, visitors and staff in various healthcare settings. The program now employs a part-time board certified music therapist, the first music therapist position at any American orchestra and in any hospital system in East Tennessee. This position has helped the program grow in scope from basic performances in lobbies and assisted living facilities to one-on-one/bedside playing for individual patients in chemotherapy treatment bays and on in-patient floors. It is functioning as a catalyst to provide integrative medicine opportunities for the region, and now offers music therapy sessions for staff, as well as patients and family members. To address work with medical populations, the KSO is offering continued professional development opportunities for the five KSO musicians working in the program, training them to observe and tailor their musical offerings for individual patients. In January 2014, the music therapist will begin formal research to tally the effects of live musical performance in this healthcare environment by observing and documenting patient body language as the Music & Wellness Quartet is playing.
Observed outcomes of the program include: emotional expression; pain management; stress reduction; connection to community; less anxiety medication being administered to patients when KSO musicians are playing; and lowered heart rates and elevated pre-pulse oxygen saturation levels in babies.