Artist of the day: Meryl Barns
Meryl Barns is an unconventional choice to be an Artist of the Day -- mainly because she is not, technically speaking, an artist.
But what she does is an art form.
Barns is the music therapist at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, which means a couple of times a week, she leads group sessions involving small instruments (drums, shakers, guitars) with some of the hospital’s youngest patients.
There are about 7,000 music therapists in the United States, and roughly 5,000 are members of the American Music Therapy Association. In 2009, there were 142 association members in Florida. Experts believe music helps alleviate child patients' fears of treatment and surgery, which means all patients must undergo music therapy. The program has been in place at All Children's for 13 years.
Barns fell into music therapy by chance. She had always been a fairly musical kid, learning the violin at 6 and singing in a choir. Even then, she knew she wanted a job that helped others and even thought of nursing. She found her niche at at Radford University in Virginia, one of only 74 schools that offer an accredited music therapy program. Her coursework was a blend of percussion and voice lessons, psychology and anatomy classes.
To learn more about Barns' job, and the role her music classes, check out this excellent story by Sylvia Lim.
-- Photo: Lara Cerri, tbt*