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Team effort and donation bring music therapy to Lutheran Children's Hospital

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Benefit concert

On Oct. 21 the Blue Star Connection will be holding a benefit concert in Indianapolis to raise money for the organization, along with a silent auction, dinner and concert at 6125 Southeastern Ave.

Doors open at 4 p.m.

Tickets are $20 for the show and dinner; $15 for the show only ($12 in advance). They can be purchased in advance at bluestarconnection.org or by calling 1-317-356-8040.

Thursday, October 11, 2012 - 7:10 am

Starting this January, Lutheran Hospital and the IPFW Music Therapy Department will be pairing up to bring music to pediatric patients.

Last summer Tammy Else, child life specialist at Lutheran Hospital, and Dr. Nancy Jackson, associate professor of music and the director of the music therapy program at IPFW, talked about starting a program at Lutheran Children's Hospital, but both women were stumped on where to find the funding to purchase instruments for the program.

It was shortly after that conversation in mid-August that Else received a phone call from Caroline Johnson of the Blue Star Connection. The nonprofit organization raises money, purchases instruments, and sends them to children and young adults who are fighting cancer and other life-challenging situations. They also work with musical therapists in various hospitals and clinics, and host fundraisers and benefit concerts in many cities around the country.

The organization started in 2005 and since then has donated instruments in 21 states and to 17 children's hospitals including Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. Lutheran Children's Hospital in Fort Wayne will make it 18 and be only the second children's hospital in the state to offer music therapy.

For Else and Jackson the Blue Star Connection was the missing piece of the puzzle, and shortly after compiling a wish list and talking to John Catt, founder of the Blue Star Connection, Lutheran Children's Hospital began receiving instruments. So far it has six new guitars, a keyboard, 75 recorders and 100 kazoos along with some percussion instruments.

“Everything just started appearing,” Else said.

Jackson said they are looking forward to using recorders and kazoos in the respiratory care area.

“The (IPFW) students that would come here would be enrolled in clinical training practice," Jackson said. "Most likely it would be the most advanced level of practicum they would do before going out to do a full-time internship somewhere. This could provide a really good balance of getting some independent work in but still having very close supervision and training."

Currently their students go to many places including Park Center, area schools, Turnstone Center for Disabled Children and Adults, as well as long-term care patient facilities, but not a pediatric setting like this.

“Music therapy is such a great complementary support for the families," Else said. "Many times we might be doing some intervention or relaxation or guided imagery to help someone through a procedure or treatment. To be able to piggyback onto what a music therapist is doing is going to be such a great compliment for that."

In addition, Else said they see a large number of autistic patients who would get a huge benefit from music therapy.

Starting in January, Jackson said they will be sending at least one music therapy student to Lutheran, along with a music therapy trainer, to start working with pediatrics patients. Else and Jackson are both hopeful that they could eventually spread the music therapy program throughout the hospital to include adults.