Erin Seibert, M.A., MT-BC stands at the front of the auditorium in the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Research and Education Building, wrapping up a presentation to hospital staff on music therapy and how it benefits patients.
Then, just like that, she transforms from presenter to performer.
“You all give so much to our patients and families, so please let me give seven minutes back to you,” she says. “I realize this may not be the most comfortable way of taking time for yourself. You may in fact think it’s a little silly, but I hope that you will walk through it with me – what harm could it do?”
The crowd, filled with both clinical and non-clinical colleagues, chuckles and follows her lead.
“We are going to take a little bit of time to do music-assisted relaxation and a little bit of guided imagery,” Seibert says. “Try to find the most comfortable position right where you are.”
She starts strumming the guitar. Many eyes are closed, embracing the moment as they take time from their busy days to refocus.
“We’ll repeat these statements to ourselves: May I be happy. May I be peaceful. May I be healthy.”
The guitar gets a little louder and echoes throughout the auditorium. A calmness fills the room.
“Music therapy is best understood when experienced,” Seibert explains. “Research shows that caregivers – those who provide both direct and indirect care to our patients and families – can experience just as much stress, worry and fatigue from their compassionate care.”
The first-hand experience did, in fact, make a difference.
“I really enjoyed Erin’s presentation, and at the end of her music therapy exercise, I felt relaxed and my fitness tracker showed a big decrease in my resting heart rate,” says Stephanie Hall, director of corporate engagement in the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Foundation.
The positive feedback was important to Seibert, who wants staff to also take time for themselves.
“I often see a change from reluctance to acceptance and then relaxation and joy,” she says. “I was really grateful for the opportunity to present and for the amount of people who came and showed their interest and support.”
Seibert strums her final tunes and the crowd claps in appreciation. It was a musical reminder that may we all continue to be happy, peaceful and healthy as they practice the motto All We Do. All for Kids.