Since 1995, Music in Hospitals and Nursing Homes Using Entertainment as Therapy (MIHNUET) has brought undergraduate musicians to 17 different sites in Cambridge and Boston to share the healing gift of music. The program has the potential to address social isolation, build understanding of culture and history, and create long-term friendships across generations.
During the term, MIHNUET recruits students based on their availability for visits every Saturday and Sunday. Over the summer, the musicians strengthen their relationships with their audiences by returning to the same sites every week. The team of four resident performers, who commit to trips every day of the week, have gotten to know most of the elders and patients by name. From discussing the music, which ranges from Bach to the Beatles, to chatting about first-date experiences, they have learned to incorporate personal interaction into their performances.
Combined with intergenerational friendships and legacy-building, the arts can improve the quality of life in long-term care facilities, where life is often a regimen of doctors’ appointments and a blur of medications. The team seeks to bring hope to the residents of long-term care facilities, as well as empower youth with arts, service, and advocacy learning.