Music as Medicine

Updated on May 24, 2023
Nurse playing the guitar for a pediatric patient

Receiving a serious medical diagnosis is a life-changing event for children and their families that can affect every area of their lives. When illness impacts an individual’s physical and mental health, it takes more than medicine to heal. Understanding that music has been shown to help children’s emotional health and increase resiliency during stressful times of treatments and hospital stays, pediatric hospitals and care facilities nationwide are implementing expanded efforts to physically, emotionally, and mentally support kids and teens battling cancer and other serious illnesses. Many are offering opportunities to bring them Joy through kid-prescribed music experiences, and JoyRx Music is leading the charge to make the healing power of music accessible for all pediatric patients nationwide. 

What is JoyRx Music? 

Historically, music has been used as a powerful tool for expression, connection, and therapy. Today, it is increasingly being used in pediatric hospitals as complementary patient support to enhance emotional well-being and help transform the healthcare experience for children fighting cancer and other serious illnesses. 

When a young patient engages in interactive music programming with a JoyRx Music specialist, they can, for a moment, focus on the music instead of long hospital stays, treatments, or surgeries. Whether it’s singing, playing an instrument, listening to a melody, or creating original songs, kid-prescribed, interactive music interventions not only help kids and teens manage pain, stress, and anxiety, but they bring them, their families, and their care teams a sense of Joy and optimism while facing life’s most challenging moments.  

How Does Music Heal? 

While we understand that music alone cannot cure a child’s illness, it can have a powerful healing impact on a child’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being. It can also help improve their quality of life and help reduce symptoms and side effects associated with diagnosis and treatment.

Children fighting cancer and other serious illnesses regularly face a multitude of emotions, including fear, anxiety, and grief. JoyRx Music provides a safe and supportive outlet to express these emotions and can give children a sense of control in a time when a lot of choices are made for them. It is a powerful moment of autonomy when a kid can decide whether they want music that day and, if so, what song or instrument they would like to hear or play. These small but powerful moments can create a lasting impact.

Music also eases stress and anxiety as it helps a young patient engage in a fun and joyful activity, offering distraction during hospital visits and treatments. It can also promote relaxation and help reduce the child’s perception of pain. 

Does JoyRx Music Really Help? 

The immediate impact of the healing power of music is backed up by the smile on a child’s face and the connection the child and music specialist share. Feedback received from parents whose children are involved with JoyRx Music demonstrates that music encourages children to engage with play again, brings them Joy, allows them to express themselves, and provides families and caretakers with a much-needed reprieve — an opportunity to see their child smile and simply be a kid. 

JoyRx Music is a powerful tool for promoting health, healing, happiness, and connection for children facing cancer and other serious illnesses. Music brings Joy, and Joy helps sick kids feel better.

For more information on how to become a JoyRx Music hospital partner or provide JoyRx Music at your healthcare facility, visit

Maura Boyce is Vice President of Programs at
Maura Boyce

Maura Boyce is Vice President of Programs at JoyRx, a national nonprofit delivering music programs that improve the emotional and physical health of young patients facing cancer and other serious illnesses.