Arts for Healing
Peyton Manning Children's Hospital & Riley Children's Hospital
Arts for Healing is a program that brings live artist performances as a means of emotional healing to young children and their families receiving care at local hospitals.
Since 2014, Arts for Learning has been serving young patients at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health and Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent, by providing free bedside performances and songwriting experiences for children undergoing treatment.
Depending on the nature of care on the day of the visits, Arts for Learning artists engage young patients and their families in music in hospital rooms, in hallways for both patients and caregivers to enjoy, family rooms, waiting rooms, and in some instance, in the Dialysis Unit.
Both Riley Hospital for Children and Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital have onsite arts therapy programs and volunteers as well. Arts for Learning’s programs are intended to complement these efforts with performances in multiple artistic disciplines.
Since the program’s launch in early February 2014, Arts for Healing has served a combined total of 944 children and their family members with 48 visits. Their ages ranged widely from 7 months old to 17 years of age.
Musicians Leslie Krom Selden and Bobbie Lancaster have been a part of the program since its inception. Selden is a fiddler and violinist, and has worked with Arts for Learning for the past 24 years. She is part of the May Apple Duo that focuses on bringing academic subjects such as history and social studies to life. Bobbie Lancaster is a songwriter and plays the mandolin; she has been a part of the Arts for Learning roster for 5 years. A versatile performer, Bobbie works with a variety of genres from rap, R&B to country.
Prior to the start of their hospital visits, both artists went through a health screening, renewed yearly, and an orientation with Child Life Services staff, and Music Therapist when available, to prepare them for the unique nature of playing for young patients.
The Creative & Healing Process
The experience of live music in a hospital setting has proven to be an effective means of patient therapy in countless communities. It promotes non-verbal outlets for emotion, anxiety and stress reduction, positive changes in mood and emotional states, as well as positive physiological changes, such as reduced muscle tension, reduced heart rate, and lower blood pressure. It also provides a moment of relief for each patient and their families as they lose themselves in the music.
According to one child’s parents, as he walked down the hall with his IV pole, he heard Leslie begin to play her violin and immediately started moving towards the music. In another story, Bobbie encountered a child who was bedbound, on a feeding tube and unresponsive, however as she entered the room strumming her mandolin, he smiled and began to laugh. The boy’s mother expressed that her son really enjoyed music therapy, and she wished he could experience it daily; but that they live in a rural area where music therapy is unavailable.
As musician Bobbie Lancaster made her way through the halls of Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital, knocking on doors and offering to play her mandolin, a little girl was waking from surgery. The little girl was groggy and confused, but as Bobbie began playing “You are My Sunshine,” the little girl joined in. “I could really go on and on,” said Lancaster of her visits to the hospital. “Time just flies by and I really get lost in this. I wish I could spend more time there.”
“They provide a therapeutic touch to their day,” said Angie Springman, a Child Life Specialist at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital. “It’s nice that someone just wants to come in and play music instead of examine the patient. This gives the patients and parents time to just relax and not focus on why they are in the hospital.”
Bobbie Lancaster at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital