UC San Francisco hospital brings music therapy to a new level

Denise Dador Image
Tuesday, April 3, 2018
UCSF hospital brings music therapy to a new level
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Four teens in San Francisco underwent bone marrow transplants and during their time recovering, they spent time doing music therapy and former their own singing group.

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KABC) -- It's a frightening place to be-confined to isolation in a hospital with a life-threatening illness.

But that's where four teens in San Francisco not only overcame their fears and sickness, but also emerged alive and much more famous than when they went in.

"Don't Stop Believing" is 17-year-old Clara Jackson's theme song. It helped her recover from an illness that could have killed her. And though she was isolated in the hospital, with the help of music therapy, she made her voice heard.

"They weren't just away at the hospital being sick," said Matt Logan, a music therapist at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital. "They were away at the hospital and creating something."

Clara and three other teens underwent bone marrow transplants. During their eight weeks of isolation, therapist Matt Logan used Journey's all-time hit to raise spirits. And through studio style recordings session, the teens became a group.

"We have the ability to take our recording studio and go remote with it," Logan said. "I could go to each of their rooms and record. And we were able to layer this and combine it in such a way that it created this whole piece."

"I think it was cool listening to all the voices when we started recording it," Clara said. "I wasn't going to do it because I was shy. And then my mom was like this is a once-in-a-lifetime thing."

Her mother added it's always a fun experience.

"Every time we see him come around with his music and his guitar, I know we're going to have a good time," Martha Jackson, Clara's mom, said.

Music therapy is designed to help hospital patients think beyond their immediate surroundings and to hope for a better tomorrow. Research shows it not only releases negative emotions, but it also improves heart rates and breathing.

"I think having music in a room will transform anyone," said Jessica Manning, a social worker at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.

"It made me feel better," Clara said. "Put a smile on my face."

Clara shared the recording with her family, and after she was released from isolation, she was able to meet the rest of her hospital pop band.

"It was cool. Now we got four new friends," Clara said.

The University of California San Francisco Hospital also recorded a music video of the quartet of patients-turned-singers, and provided it to the patients so that they can share with family and friends.

In addition to bone marrow transplants, music therapists, like Logan, work to treat anything from motor skill problems to stress.