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.

MFH brings a dimension to patients’ treatment and recovery experiences that needles and pills alone cannot. After one therapy session, a cancer 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 and bring this beauty to us here means more than I can express.”

In 2022, MFH served over 1000 patients, families, and hospital staff. 

In 2023, we are continuing to provide music for monthly environmental music therapy sessions at Corwell Health’s Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion. Offered in multiple chemo infusion areas, our MFH sessions are designed to reduce patient's anxiety and pain levels and calm the busy space's overall atmosphere. 

At Corewell Rehabilitation and Nursing Center (Kalamazoo Avenue Campus), our musicians support neuro-music therapy group sessions for long-term care and subacute patients recovering from traumatic brain injury. Music is an effective tool for creating new neural pathways in the brain and our MFH musicians use their ability to calibrate every aspect of their playing to help patients achieve the desired outcomes.  

Some of our other partnerships - including those at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, and our pilot program at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital - have been on hold due to covid restrictions. We look forward to renewing these and beginning new programs this year as conditions permit. 

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