The Arts Help Us Heal
Since the beginning of recorded history, the arts–especially music, singing and drumming–have been used to soothe those who are ill. Research increasingly establishes the value of the arts in health care. There is a breath of the healthy outside world that comes into the patients’ rooms with, for example, a poem by Jaki Shelton-Green called “Grandma” or a song on guitar by Charles Pettee called “Where Would We Go?”
DooR to DooR artists choose the work they offer to patients, family, and staff based on their encounter. We believe that this attention to these individuals refreshes, rejuvenates, and inspirits them.
Joy Javits established DooR to DooR in 1993 to bring music, magic, hope, and happiness to patients, staff, caregivers, and the community. Over the course of a year, nearly 200 professional performing and visual artists participate in public spaces and private rooms at the University of North Carolina Hospitals.
Story from a Performer
From The Toughest Gig:
“She was beautiful. Even though treatment had robbed her of her hair, it was obvious from her delicate cheekbones, olive skin, and perfect teeth that she had been a very pretty young woman. Her closed eyes were frozen in the grimace of slow, lasting pain. She was also disconnected from oxygen, IV’s, and monitors- literally, her last connections to this world. I wondered what kind of tough decisions her mother had made in the previous days.
Emotionally unready to sing, I decided to play a melody, “Home Sweet Home,” a simple tune from the 1800’s with a fitting title for the final journey. We were forbidden to get close to very ill patients, but I got as close as I could without touching her and began to play slowly, unsure whether she could even hear me. The young lady curled up into a fetal position and began to rock back and forth. She could hear me.
Everything that I had ever thought was important to me faded from existence. For the first time in my life, I knew what it felt like to be a shaman, a priest, a messenger of God, summoning up all the joy, beauty, and humanity that I could manage and bringing it to people who needed it more than anyone else in the world. I was smiling and crying at the same time.
No higher honor could be bestowed on any musician; no tougher gig ever existed. On a beautiful spring morning, I left that room, carrying a lesson in the power of music. Now, even when I’m playing to a crowded bar or a coffeehouse, I try to remember that I have no idea what someone in that room is going through. Perhaps a mother is there, just back from sitting in the hospital with her beautiful, dying daughter.
Music can be great fun for a night out on the town, but it can also be like water for a lost soul, wandering in a desert of heartache. About once a month, I return to the hospital to visit patients and share the gift of music. I’ll never forget the last musical rites of that beautiful young woman and one of the greatest rewards of my career.”
– Jonathan Byrd, DooR to DooR Performer
Thank You, Supporters!
Guy B. Phillips Middle School, Drama Department, Robbie Nadas
Children’s Promise Program of NC Children’s Hospital
The Medical Foundation of North Carolina, Inc.
The Jacob K. and Marian B. Javits Foundation
UNC Hospitals Volunteer Association
The Maola Foundation for Children
Orange County Arts Commission
Mary Duke Biddle Foundation
North Carolina Arts Council
Ride Again Productions
Carla and Josh Javits
Strowd Roses, Inc.
UNC Health Care
Before: Low, in pain
After: spirits up, entertained, Great