Music and Healing
“Music has the power to heal.” Now more than ever, there is an urgency to explore and understand what this phrase truly means. What does that healing actually look like, and how can orchestras play a meaningful role in this?
Born into a family of doctors and surrounded by siblings all in the healthcare profession, Jackson Symphony conductor Peter Shannon has always had a strong desire to connect music and medicine. Recognizing the holistic connection between music and healing, Peter has developed and shepherded programs at hospitals, cancer institutes and hospice settings for over ten years. Upon his appointment as conductor of The Jackson Symphony, he brought his expertise in this area to the Kirkland Cancer Center and Jackson Madison County General Hospital, where musicians perform weekly for patients. Additionally, his production of “The Magic Flute,” tailored for sick children, is performed regularly in Jackson.
Peter recognized not only that people responded to the music that was being played, but that the act of playing was an act of compassion, and that act, combined with the music, brought about a powerful response. Furthermore, he recognized that beyond the patient, the music was having a positive effect on all involved: the patient, the musician, family members present, and the healthcare professionals providing care.
Peter has collaborated with Jacqueline Huntly, MD, board-certified in Preventive Medicine and a Fellow in Integrative Medicine, because of their shared passion for finding a way to mesh the power of music, mind/body medicine, and the art of healing. Their program, “Nurturing the Inner Healer,” hosted by Jackson-Madison County General Hospital, was received with great enthusiasm.
Peter says, “In this arena, where patients are at their most vulnerable, it is hugely important that the work we do as musicians doesn’t disturb the healthcare environment, but complements the excellent care provided by JMCGH and Kirkland Cancer Center. The musicians and I are passionate about this work, and we are all grateful for the wonderful support we receive from the board of The Jackson Symphony, the staff of the Symphony, and our partners in these healthcare settings."
The Jackson Symphony has now expanded its reach to assisted living and memory care facilities as well as to regional veterans homes. The overwhelmingly positive response to the performances of the Symphony’s musicians from residents, staff, and caregivers motivates us to connect people from all environments through the healing power of classical music.