Welcome to the SHN's April Newsletter!

Our mission is to promote research and public awareness about the impact of music on health and wellness. Visit our website here.
This Month's Topic:
Music and Population Health
In Conversation
Cienna Wesley, Musician-In-Residence at UF Health Shands Arts in Medicine
University of Florida (UF) Health Shands Arts in Medicine is one of the largest and most comprehensive arts in healthcare programs in the world, but it all started with two volunteer visual artists, working on the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit. Now a multidisciplinary organization, with paid artists working across many disciplines, the program is transforming healthcare environments through the arts and providing leadership for hospital arts programs throughout the nation.  

The program’s Musicians-In-Residence are professional musicians from the community who are specially trained to provide musical experiences to patients at their bedside.
We sat down with Cienna Wesley to find out what it’s like, from a musician's perspective. 

How did you become a Musician-In Residence?
There was an opening in the program and my good friend Jose Valentino, who is currently a professor at UF, reached out and suggested that it might be a good opportunity for me. I was working with patients in clinical trials at Moffitt Cancer Center at the time and he thought it would be an amazing fit since I love singing and working with people. 

You have a Master's in public health; was it always your goal to bring music to patients?
I wouldn’t say it was a goal, because I did not know that it was an option! I wish that programs like the UF Arts in Medicine program were more widely highlighted. I was so focused on the patient care side that I didn't even think to look at the intersection of art and medicine and how that can aid in overall wellness. Once I had that opportunity though, the mission became a no-brainer.

What does a typical session with a patient look like?
A typical session for me would usually involve me knocking on someone's door, introducing myself, and asking if they wanted to hear any music. If I received a favorable response, I’d usually follow up with asking what mood they were in or what they wanted to hear. I had some really cool experiences where people would ask me to sing Beyonce or Celine Dion. There were also other times where I would be asked to sing gospel music or songs that had special meaning to the patient or family. Sometimes patients even sang along which always made me smile. I also had the pleasure of working with some of the most amazing, talented, and sincere musicians in the program. It was always a joy when I had a chance to see patients with the [other musicians-in-residence], because they could play the guitar or banjo and we could sing together. 

What are some of the benefits of this program that you've witnessed? How do patients respond?
This program is unlike any I have seen. I worked in clinical research and I know that when we look at medications we want it to have an immediate effect and many times it doesn't. It takes time. With Arts in Medicine, although it is not music therapy [which is the "clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program," as defined by the American Music Therapy Association], the effects on mood and the atmosphere change are almost immediate in some cases. During one of our weekly rounds among the artists, we discussed that Arts and Medicine was like healing for the soul. People will smile, sing, and sometimes cry. The effect is amazing. People open up and take time to explain their situations; it also opens the opportunity for patients to vent. I have left so many sessions feeling so full because the experience for the patient seemed so beautiful. I know other artists have had similar experiences in songwriting, palliative care, visual arts, and even dance. The goal for me and I think all of us in the Arts in Medicine program is to bring joy through the medium that we are most passionate about. That passion has the opportunity to bring our patients some much needed light in a really dark time.
How does performing for hospitalized people make you feel?
I think as I have gotten older I've become more emotional. I am definitely an empath so I feed off of people's energy, and it is no different when I am with a patient. I leave sessions sometimes feeling overwhelmed, sometimes joyful, and sometimes emotionally full. Although our job is to bring music to patients and hopefully provide them with a mini escape, they touch our lives and hearts in unexpected ways. We create relationships with long-term patients and go see them. Sometimes it's even my therapy.

What has been your most rewarding experience or relationship as an artist in residence?
I think my most rewarding experience was with a young woman on the pediatric ward. She had been in the hospital for a number of months and her grandmother was there with her. We just clicked. She was a teenager at the time. When Sarah, a fellow artist in residence, brought me to see her, she seemed a bit hesitant and reserved. I asked her what she wanted to hear and she said Michael Jackson or Beyonce. I think it was a test to see if I could really sing. Luckily, I passed! I was able to see her weekly for a bit and we would laugh and joke and sing songs. She would call me old and then we would find another Beyonce or Michael song to sing. We talked about scary movies and what her plans were when she left. I had the pleasure of seeing her the day she was discharged to go home. She was just a beautiful soul and her grandmother was a joy! I have had a number of wonderful experiences but that one in particular touched me. I saw her fight and it made me want to fight with her and give her a sense of normalcy with someone who wasn't trying to physically heal her. I was there to just joke around, sing some songs, and be as close to a friend to her as I could.

Is there anything you've learned from your residency that's made you a better musician?
READ the ROOM! I think there is a level of finesse and intuition you have to have when approaching a patient room. Even if the patient has been referred, you never know what you could be walking into. You don't know whether family is there, whether a song will trigger negative emotions, or whether the patient has trouble communicating. It is our job to read the room and ensure that we take the best measures to make sure that the patient and family feel safe and open to hearing our gifts. In my regular gigging life, I have to do the same! I have to evaluate what mood the crowd is in and plan accordingly. I have to manage the way I speak, my volume, and my inflection. All of that plays a part when I am performing so that it draws people in and allows them to really feel what I am singing and meet me where I am. I want my "audience" to always enjoy the experience.

You can hear Cienna sing two of her most-requested songs, “Halo” by Beyonce and “Hero” by Mariah Carey, at this link, and you can learn more about Cienna at http://ciennaalida.com/. To hear more about this program, and how music can be used in healthcare settings for patients, clinicians, and the community, join us for our next webinar on April 21st, Music & Population Health, featuring the program’s Assistant Director Jill Sonke, who is also the Director UF’s Center for Arts in Medicine, in conversation with surgeon and pianist Claudius Conrad. 
Research Spotlight: Music and Population Health

Large meta review about how the arts can build knowledge and awareness of health issues.

A systematic review of community engagement in public health interventions.

A secondary directed content analysis of interviews with 31 nurses on a medical-surgical care unit investigated the roles and impacts of professional artists on the interprofessional care team.

The purpose of this scoping review was to identify the types and quantity of research at intersections of music and SMIs, document evidentiary gaps and opportunities, and generate recommendations for improving research and practice. 

A population health study to determine whether music engagement influences middle-aged and older adults' performance on episodic memory tasks.
Job Opportunities

The Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt, Germany

University of Nevada in Las Vegas, Nevada:
Funding Opportunities

NEA Research Labs funds transdisciplinary research teams grounded in the social and behavioral sciences, yielding empirical insights about the arts for the benefit of arts and non-arts sectors alike.

Over the next five years, Creative Forces®: National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Military Healing Arts Network intends to provide $2.5 million in new research funding.

NEA Research Grants in the Arts funds research studies that investigate the value and/or impact of the arts, either as individual components of the U.S. arts ecology or as they interact with each other and/or with other domains of American life.

This funding opportunity is intended to: (1) increase our understanding of how music affects the brain when it is used therapeutically and/or (2) use that knowledge to better develop evidence-based music interventions to enhance health or treat specific diseases and disorders.

This funding opportunity is intended to: (1) increase our understanding of how music affects the brain when it is used therapeutically and/or (2) use that knowledge to better develop evidence-based music interventions to enhance health or treat specific diseases and disorders.

The purpose of this FOA is to promote innovative research on music and health with an emphasis on developing music interventions aimed at understanding their mechanisms of action and clinical applications for the treatment of many diseases, disorders, and conditions.