Empowering Patients with Music

mobile music studio, music therapy
Heather Woods, MT-BC, shows off Dana-Farber’s new mobile music studio.

Whether it’s creating a work of art, taking time to meditate, or chronicling their experience through a blog, cancer patients find many creative ways to cope with their diagnosis and treatment. In many cases, music can also help patients express their physical and emotional challenges, and a new mobile recording studio at Dana-Farber is bringing that music therapy to patients’ fingertips.

“Like many of our other expressive therapies, the mobile music studio is a positive coping tool to help patients manage side effects of treatment like pain, stress, and anxiety,” says Heather Woods, MT-BC, a music therapist and manager of Expressive Arts Therapies at Dana-Farber’s Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies.

The cart is filled with studio essentials: headphones, microphones, an electric piano, a USB-compatible guitar, high-quality speakers, and a laptop stocked with music composition software. It can be wheeled to different patient rooms or patients can come by during scheduled drop-in sessions.

During a studio session, Woods walks patients through the cart components before beginning a track on Garage Band, a music creation program. The patients often start by selecting loops – or repeated musical riffs – from a library of musical styles and instruments. After layering loops to create a song base, patients are encouraged to add their own vocal track, piano lick, or guitar solo. For those with a higher level of music experience, the studio has all the technology needed to record and mix a professional composition.

Watch the music studio in action in the video below: