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Mott opens state-of-the-art music studio to expand music therapy programs for kids

Hospital leaders celebrate grand opening of Sophie’s Place, a $1.5 million music therapy space and recording studio for patients receiving care at U-M Health C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. –  Children at University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital can now leave hospital rooms to write, record and perform their own music in a state-of-the-art recording studio.

Hospital leaders on Aug.3 celebrated the grand opening of Sophie’s Place, a roughly 1,250 square feet dedicated music therapy environment for patients and families on the third floor of Mott. The $1.5 million project was made possible through donations from the Forever Young Foundation and the Mott Golf Classic along with additional significant gifts from other donors.

“Music is a powerful way to offer children and teens comfort and connection and help them cope through their hospitalization and treatment,” said Luanne Thomas Ewald, FACHE, chief operating officer of C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women's Hospital.

“We are grateful for our generous donors and the community support that will allow us to enhance our music therapy services for patients and families through Sophie’s Place.”

The studio is named after Sophie Rose Barton, a young singer and songwriter who was a music volunteer for Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah. Sophie unexpectedly passed away at age 17 but her legacy lives on through the Forever Young Foundation, which supports special music therapy programs at children’s hospitals across the country.

"Research suggests that music therapy can alleviate pain, help ease anxiety and depression, assist in fine and gross motor skill development, increase oxygen saturation levels, create new neuro-pathways, and so much more,” said Barb Young who along with husband and NFL Hall of Famer Steve Young founded the Forever Young Foundation.

“Steve and I, along with Sophie’s parents and our Forever Young Foundation, are honored to partner with C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in building Sophie’s Place, a music therapy space bringing hope, healing, and harmony to the children being treated."

Child and Family Life music therapists have long provided bedside music therapy at Mott, allowing patients to learn to play instruments, relax to music, and write and record songs to decrease anxiety and stress.

Through Sophie’s Place, Mott teams will be able to nearly triple music therapy services, allowing patients to learn a variety of instruments to enhance cognitive and motor development, bond with their caregivers by creating positive memories through music and explore upgraded music and technology access.

“It’s incredible to have a dedicated space within Mott that will enhance music therapy experiences for patients and families,” said Sophie’s Place Studio Manager Meredith Irvine.

“Music is an inherent part of who we are as individuals and how we connect with one another. Sophie’s Place will allow us to provide individualized music therapy services that meet the needs of each patient throughout their journey and healing process.”

Among expanded music therapy services to be offered at Sophie’s Place:

  • Opportunities for patients to record their music and share it with other patients and families.
  • “Behind the scenes” recording studio experiences designed to give patients an inside look at music production and the use of recording equipment.
  • Individual and group music therapy gatherings in addition to bedside sessions.
  • Specialized programming designed for parents, caregivers and siblings, to promote positive coping, normalization of environment and connecting with others on similar journeys.
  • Programming designed to support families in grief and loss.
  • Space for celebrity and patient performances, with capabilities for livestreaming performances through the hospital’s closed-circuit TV network for patients unable to leave their rooms.
  • Music-based virtual program “Name that Tune” promoting connection, engagement, and socialization from patients who either call down to the studio or scan a QR code to participate.
  • Educational and music-themed weekly program “Story Time” conducted in partnership with Mott education specialists and child life assistants and that encourage academic engagement and development.
  • “Song of the Day” featuring songs selected by patients, families, and staff that are celebrated through music therapists discussing the impact and importance of the selected song, teaching portions of the song to viewers, and using music to enhance hospital connection and community.

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