Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor opens $1.5M music therapy studio for patients

The grand opening of Sophie's Place at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital was held on Aug. 3, 2022. (Michigan Medicine)

ANN ARBOR – Patients at University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital now have access to a state-of-the-art recording studio where they can write, perform and record their own music.

The grand opening of Sophie’s Place -- the 1,250-square-foot music therapy space -- took place on Wednesday with hospital leaders in attendance.

Located on the third floor of Mott, patients and their families can leave their rooms and enjoy the new $1.5 million space, made possible through gifts from the Forever Young Foundation, significant gifts from individual donors and the Mott Golf Classic.

COO of C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women's Hospital, Luanne Thomas Ewald, speaks at the grand opening of Sophie's Place at Mott on Aug. 3, 2022. (Michigan Medicine)

“Music is a powerful way to offer children and teens comfort and connection and help them cope through their hospitalization and treatment,” Luanne Thomas Ewald chief operating officer of Mott Children’s Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital said in a statement.

“We are grateful for our generous donors and the community support that will allow us to enhance our music therapy services for patients and families through Sophie’s Place.”

Sophie's Place was named for Sophie Barton, a young musician and volunteer who passed away at the age of 17. (Michigan Medicine)

The studio is named after Sophie Rose Barton, a music volunteer at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah. The young singer/songwriter passed away unexpectedly at the age of 17 and the Forever Young Foundation hopes her legacy can live on through its music therapy programs at several national pediatric hospitals.

“Research suggests that music therapy can alleviate pain, help ease anxiety and depression, assist in fine and gross motor skill development, increase oxygen saturation levels, create new neuro-pathways, and so much more,” Barb Young, who co-founded the Forever Young Foundation along with husband and NFL Hall of Famer Steve Young, said in a statement.

“Steve and I, along with Sophie’s parents and our Forever Young Foundation, are honored to partner with C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in building Sophie’s Place, a music therapy space bringing hope, healing, and harmony to the children being treated.”

Bedside music therapy has been offered for years at Mott by Child and Family Life music therapists. With the help of Sophie’s Place, teams at Mott will be able to broadly expand their music therapy services.

Inside Sophie's Place at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital. (Michigan Medicine)

“It’s incredible to have a dedicated space within Mott that will enhance music therapy experiences for patients and families,” Sophie’s Place Studio Manager Meredith Irvine said in a statement. “Music is an inherent part of who we are as individuals and how we connect with one another.

“Sophie’s Place will allow us to provide individualized music therapy services that meet the needs of each patient throughout their journey and healing process.”

According to a U-M release, Sophie’s Place will offer the following services:

  • Opportunities for patients to record their music and share it with other patients and families.
  • “Behind the scenes” recording studio experiences, designed to give patients an inside look at music production and the use of recording equipment.
  • Individual and group music therapy gatherings in addition to bedside sessions.
  • Specialized programming designed for parents, caregivers and siblings, to promote positive coping, normalization of environment and connecting with others on similar journeys.
  • Programming designed to support families in grief and loss.
  • Space for celebrity and patient performances, with capabilities for live-streaming performances through the hospital’s closed-circuit TV network for patients unable to leave their rooms.
  • Music-based virtual program “Name that Tune” promoting connection, engagement, and socialization from patients who either call down to the studio or scan a QR code to participate.
  • Educational and music-themed weekly program “Story Time” conducted in partnership with Mott education specialists and child life assistants and that encourage academic engagement and development.
  • “Song of the Day” featuring songs selected by patients, families, and staff that are celebrated through music therapists discussing the impact and importance of the selected song, teaching portions of the song to viewers, and using music to enhance hospital connection and community.

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About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.