American Institute for Music and Healing
To educate and collaborate with Musicians and Healthcare Professionals to harness the healing effect of Music.
For music to be recognized as a vital tool in the healing process and the promotion of well-being.
Peter Shannon is doing essential work in the alleviation of suffering, not only for the sick but for those who care for the sick. His work is seminal in bringing together the creative world of the arts and music with that of science and medicine. This kind of integration of art and science - of rational thinking and visceral feeling - is right at the heart of the work we need to do in order to adapt to changing conditions as we move into an uncertain future. It is a concrete expression of the ideas of the late Jonas Salk as expressed in his books "The Anatomy of Reality: the Merging of Intuition and Reason" and "A New Reality: Human Evolution for a Sustainable Future." I fully support this important project.
Dr. Jonathan Salk
(Co-author and son of Jonas Salk)
What We Do
The American Institute for Music and Healing (AIMH) is a unique series of workshops and training programs, developed by a professional orchestral conductor and a medical doctor to harness the healing effects of music in a compassionate way for patients, musicians and healthcare professionals.
To train musicians to perform effectively in a healthcare setting
To address issues of burnout in musicians
To address issues of burnout in healthcare professionals
Increased sense of well-being, both physically and mentally, and improved resilience in musicians, healthcare professionals, and patients.
The outcomes of the AIMH programs for musicians include developing an awareness of the ability of music to heal, incorporating compassion, self-care, and mindfulness.
The programs of the AIMH aim to build resilience by awakening the inner gift in musicians to heal and self-heal through the power of their music making, and by incorporating music to nurture the inner healer in healthcare professionals. When music is performed appropriately in healthcare settings, patients receive the healing benefits.
How does the AIMH differ from Music Therapy?
AIMH programs are targeted towards healthcare professionals and professional musicians, with the additional outcome of improved health and well-being of patients, while music therapy is focused on the individualized needs of the patient.
Musicians of the AIMH engage through music alone. They do not have any formal consulting or therapeutic role with the patient. Music therapy is an established health profession in which music is used within a therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals.
Musicians of the AIMH are professional musicians who perform a wide range of repertoire on their instrument. Music therapists provide treatment which may include creating, singing, moving to, and/or listening to music.
Peter Shannon is a professional orchestral conductor, working in both Europe and the USA (www.petershannonconductor.com). Born into a family of doctors and surrounded by siblings all in the healthcare profession, Peter Shannon has always had a strong desire to connect Music and Medicine. Recognizing the holistic connection between music and healing, Peter has developed and shepherded programs in the USA at Hospitals, Cancer Institutes and Hospice settings for over ten years. These programs and his production of “The Little Magic Flute” tailored for sick children, have fostered the healing connection that can arise between musicians and patients. Dr. Tom Hutchinson at the Whole Person Care team of McGill Medical faculty (Montreal) was the motivation behind the program “Conducting and the art of deep listening” for trainee doctors.
Begun over a decade ago, primarily as a unique way to involve his orchestras in their communities, and to develop ways of ‘giving back’, Peter’s ideas have evolved enormously over the years and are represented by the programs presented today.
The origins of his work began when he started bringing musicians to play for patients receiving chemotherapy at the Curtis and Elizabeth Anderson Cancer Institute in Savannah Georgia USA. Though Peter was familiar with research documenting the healing effects of live music on patients, what Peter soon recognized was that people responded not only to the music that was being played, but that the act of playing was, in essence, an act of compassion, and that that act, combined with the music being played, brought about a powerful response.
Furthermore, he recognized that over and beyond the obvious benefits this was having on patients, it was having an effect on all involved: the patient, the musician, any family members of chemotherapy patients present, and, importantly, the healthcare professionals themselves.
Having confirmed this response first-hand through his own surveys and through accounts from musicians, patients, and healthcare professionals alike, Peter’s passion to share the potential of music as a healing force has only been motivated further by recent research in psychology, neurology and psychoneuroimmunology.
Psychologist Barbara Fredrickson has demonstrated scientifically, by isolating white blood cells and looking for patterns of gene expression in the immune system, that at a cellular level our cells seem to be tracking acts of kindness, compassion and empathy for others, and that these are a contributor to our physical health, over and beyond the emotional well-being that it also brings. Neuroscientist Tania Singer has also presented data that show that acts of compassion can boost resilience in the face of suffering.
A big fan of Paul Gilbert’s work in Compassion Focus Therapy (CFT), which points to an alleviation of mental health difficulties and promoted wellbeing in its practitioners, Peter has completed courses in CFT and incorporates this research in the programs of the AIMH.
Shannon has partnered with Dr. Jacqueline Huntly, MD, MPH, to further grow the work and abilities of the musicians in this arena of Mind/Body Medicine. Together, Shannon and Huntly created the “Awakening the Musician’s Inner Gift” and “Nurturing the Inner Spirit/Healer” workshops.
Jacqueline Huntly MD, board certified in Preventive Medicine and a Fellow in Integrative Medicine, was inspired to work with Peter Shannon because of his passion for finding a way to mesh the power of music, mind/body medicine and the art of healing, which resonated deeply with her own background and practice in preventive medicine and healing.