Music for Health is BACK!

Music for Health (MFH) combines the artistry of our Grand Rapids Symphony musicians with the expertise of music therapists to bring the healing power of music to patients facing health challenges ranging from brain injury to dementia to cancer. While each music therapy session targets specific medical goals, our music also provides supportive physical, emotional, and spiritual experiences for patients as well as for the families and providers caring for them. After a session at the Spectrum Health Cancer Center at Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion, a patient came up to MFH musician and administrator Diane McElfish Helle with tears in her eyes. “She took me by the arm and said, ‘You have no idea how much this means to me,’” Helle recalled. “That you would come to us and bring this beauty to us - it means more than I can express.”

Relaunching our monthly program at Lemmon-Holton in October, MFH has already had two sessions, reaching 168 patients, family/friends, and staff. A typical service there has the music therapist taking a musician duo into at least two chemo infusion areas and, sometimes, the central lobby. Patients are offered relaxation guides and are also invited to provide input on “mood vectors” which influence what music is played. Of course, anyone is welcome to just listen if that is what they prefer. 

We also have a “Holiday Special” coming up at Spectrum Rehabilitation and Nursing Kalamazoo Avenue Campus on December 16. After missing last year due to the pandemic, we are delighted to renew this annual tradition that goes back to our pilot year, 2014. As a way to reach more people, this year our musicians will be offering mini-concerts in several areas of the building so that long-term care and subacute patients will all get to enjoy the music. 

The funding for MFH comes from everyday donations to the Grand Rapids Symphony Annual Fund, as well as partners like the Hung and Elsie Liang Fund for Music. For more information call Diane McElfish Helle at (616) 458-8706 or email