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Music as Medicine

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Starting in 2012, the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra has partnered with Avera and Sanford Health to bring classical music and musicians to the campuses of both health care facilities through the program Music as Medicine.

The mission of the Music as Medicine program is to use music to create a positive impact on patient healing; to assist the South Dakota regional healthcare systems in creating a constructive environment in which to heal; and to allow the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra to have a consistent presence in the healthcare systems of Sioux Falls and serve as a resource to its community.=

The scope of this project and the effect of music as an avenue for healing and comfort will extend to patients, families, staff, and visitors.

The Dakota String Quartet and Dakota Wind Quintet perform across the healthcare facilities. These ensembles share performances at Avera Prairie Center Lobby, Dougherty Hospice House, and Sanford Hospital. The Dakota String Quartet is the dedicated ensemble for events at Avera Behavioral Health, and the Dakota Wind Quintet is the dedicated ensemble for Avera Prince of Peace – bringing the residents the newly created “Memoirs” program.

“Memoirs” tells the story of a resident at Avera Prince of Peace (Sioux Falls, SD) or Avera Brady (Mitchell, SD).  Selected residents meet with storyteller Darrel Fickbohm to create an account of their life and experiences.  Residents then serve as the narrator of their own story, sharing their thoughts and memories which are punctuated with music from the Dakota Wind Quintet.


Comments about “Memoirs”

“I was in the chapel when the music started and that was a very peaceful and encouraging experience to hear such beautiful music while praying for my infant son’s health and well-being. Thank you.” – Avera Prairie Center

“I have found that the collaboration with the SDSO in the Music as Medicine program to be outstanding! I have witnessed no behavioral disturbances with this program. We have an average of 80 to 100 patients per time, the youngest being 2 years old, the oldest, 100. Patients respond overwhelmingly with joy and thanks every time we collaborate with the string quartet here at Avera Behavioral Health. This program has been such a positive experience for us.” – Dr. Mark Vande Braak PhD, FT, MT-BC.

“I have personally witnessed a hospice patient listening to these groups as s/he sat in a wheelchair, often with oxygen, often just weeks or less from death. I have watched the look on their faces: appreciation, peace, gratitude and yes, joy!” – Coordinator, Avera Dougherty Hospice House

“This is exactly what I need, I can feel the stress lifting from my shoulders” – Sanford doctor