You could call Julia Summers "The Music Woman.” She’s a music therapist in the pediatric unit at Northridge Hospital, but these days, she has to interact with her young patients virtually.
"Over the internet, it’s harder because I can’t hear every little nuance but there is still so much that we can do. I see the benefits in the way that the patients engage," Summers said.
Music has been shown to offer therapeutic benefits, especially in children experiencing anxiety, depression, pain, or a prolonged stay in the hospital.
"It helped take my mind off of the pain," said Genesis Richards, 9, who was in the hospital with a hip infection.
"Sessions can either be very active and we can be engaging in active music making or sometimes it’s receptive and a patient will turn inward and I’ll help them connect to their breath and the natural rhythms in their body," Summers said.
Each session runs 30-45 minutes, and the children can choose from a wide range of instruments but one of the most popular is the ukulele.
"The one problem with the ukulele is sometimes it’s not tuned," Summers laughed.
She says she notices the transformation not just in her patients, but their families too.
"Having them see their child really enjoying something and thriving in music can be really helpful for them too," Summers said.
She says in these tough times, people need connection and a way to express themselves more than ever, whether it’s singing, songwriting, or just strumming a tune, she believes music has the power to strike a chord with almost anyone.
"People don’t realize that all the time and they’re like, 'I’m not a singer or I can’t play that!' and I’m like 'No no no, you can!'"
And spreading a little joy to her patients has been just as meaningful for her.
"It’s really been such a wonderful experience in my life and I’m just going to keep on building on it," Summers said.