Alex Vu, Columbia Medical School Student

—In the foster care setting, we witnessed first-hand the ability for medicine to heal. We were invited to dinner at the foster home, where we met the eight girls who received our personalized songs. The home was equipped with old stereos and VHS players; the walls furnished awards, trophies, and children’s artwork. But underlying this seemingly warm home were tragic histories of trauma and neglect. In fact, more than 80% of these girls were sexually abused. Two of these girls even witnessed the murder of their own mother.

Listening to the songs over dinner with the foster girls was simply life-changing. One of the girls had memorized all the lyrics to her song. Closing her eyes, she began singing and swaying her arms: “You’ve got to be yourself, you’ve got to love yourself, be loud, be proud…”. She emotionally welled up and bashfully excused herself. Her clinician later informed us that she requests for her song to be played daily. Most touchingly, she uses it as her “calming down” song.

We were at a loss of words. Nothing philosophical or data-driven could trump the feeling of our amazement. Words could not truly encapsulate what was so obviously proof that creative song writing had a medically relevant importance.