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Helping Children Heal

Philanthropy grows for music therapy outreach in Detroit

a music therapist sits with a young patient at the Children's Hospital of Michigan

One child wrote lyrics about what she would do when she got home from the hospital. Another composed a melody about missing her friends. Other young patients sang, strummed, laughed and smiled—a needed respite from their health woes.

Since 2017, this has been the scene every day when kids at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, part of the Detroit Medical Center, are visited by music therapists from MSU’s Community Music School–Detroit (CMS–D). Bedside music therapy services and group sessions for hundreds of children and families are provided by two board-certified therapists funded by a grant through The Children’s Foundation. The success has led to increased support for music therapy for children undergoing treatment for life-threatening illnesses.

While initial funding covered 15 hours of therapy per week when the program began, The Children’s Foundation’s commitment has steadily grown to the current 23.5 hours per week. In total, the Foundation’s belief in the benefits music therapy provides children has led to increasing the program’s size and scope to the tune of doubling the initial support to its current $70K level.

“Music therapy is proven to address anxiety, stress, developmental needs, discomfort and so much more for children. It particularly helps with emotional expression, which is essential during times of illness or grief,” says Lawrence J. Burns, president and CEO of The Children’s Foundation. “Our Foundation’s goal is to facilitate health and wellness, and while we may not always be able to prevent children from hospitalization, we can help them process, cope and bring a sense of normalcy during their stay.”

In the above photo, Music Therapist Erica Cyrul spends time with a young patient at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, part of the Detroit Medical Center.

Cyrul and Dr. Jody Stark—director of the CMS-D music therapy program—share a caseload of 20-25 patients, who they see on a weekly basis for specially tailored individual sessions. They provide music therapy services through a partnership between the College of Human Medicine, The Children’s Foundation and the MSU Community Music School–Detroit.

Hear Dr. Stark talk about the power of music on the MSU Today podcast.


LEARN MORE about support for the College of Music by contacting Associate Director of Development Ann Marie Lindley at or by calling (517) 432-4889.