Abby Guyer: She’s Healing Kids With Music

April 19 - On The Dot
FIRST THOUGHT: Music to Our Ears

When was the last time you had a song play on repeat in your head for hours at a time? What’s the deal with songs we haven’t listened to in years seeping into our minds and refusing to leave? While music can elicit maddening repetition, it can also be healing, offering a calming effect for those with Alzheimer’s disease, animating those with Parkinson’s disease, even giving some stroke victims back their voice.

Today, we’re exploring the power of music and its many benefits. So put your favorite tune on repeat, and settle in as we face the music.


Music has been around about as long as humans, the oldest musical instrument being a 41,000-year-old flute made from some bear bones, Flintstones-style. Fast-forward thousands of years to 1944. That’s the year Michigan State University created the first music-therapy degree program in the world, inspiring 70 colleges and universities to follow suit.

So, what the heck is music therapy? It’s used to accompany medical treatment, such as in the care of cancer patients, to alleviate pain, manage stress and aid in communication. It can even lower blood pressure. So turn up those slow jams. After all, it’s for your health!

WOMAN TO WATCH: Abby Guyer, Vice President of Brand for the Children's Cancer Association

There’s absolutely no doubt that music serves as an all-around emotional and mental healer. That’s why more health-care organizations are incorporating this artistic expression as part of their patients’ treatment plans. But it’s not just hospitals and health clinics employing music’s healing capabilities. Several nonprofits are utilizing music to make a positive impact on the lives of seriously ill people.

Today’s Woman to Watch is one such advocate for music therapy. Her name is Abby Guyer and she’s the vice president of brand for the nonprofit Children’s Cancer Association, which offers unique and impactful programs free of charge to kids with cancer. The executive team at CCA consists of four totally awesome women, all with the desire to “prescribe joy” to sick kids. This prescription is implemented through a variety of supportive programs, like MyMusicRx, which Abby administers.

MyMusicRx is a totally cool interactive program that delivers the healing power of music to the bedsides of children and teens facing cancer and other serious illnesses. Abby and her team accomplish this by employing music carts containing iPads loaded with tons of music and apps. In the past 21 years, nearly 150,000 kids have been helped by this free program. MyMusicRx also extends digitally, with 25 pediatric hospitals throughout the United States getting daily music content.

Abby is no stranger to the power of music. She spent the 1990s booking punk and indie-rock bands before turning to marketing in the sports industry, connecting companies like Adidas with top-notch music artists. All of that experience led her to do what is perhaps her most important work yet: giving sick kids the comfort of music.

One particularly cool component of MyMusicRx is a totally rockin’ music festival called Bedstock. A unique digital music fest, Bedstock features an array of musicians performing from bed for kids stuck in theirs. Last year’s Bedstock lineup, which featured more than 50 artists, included such musical virtuosos as Norah Jones, Tegan and Sara, and Jenny Lewis, who all performed—alongside their guitars, keyboards and violins—from bed. Bedstock even has a kids stage, a digital component that features kids performing and rockin’ out to their favorite songs from their hospital beds.

Abby and the other fabulous hardworking members of the CCA are proving that music isn’t just about tapping your foot or snapping your fingers to the beat. Music is about feeling connected, empowered and loved. Thanks to Abby, tons of kids in the U.S. have been able to feel the music and feel better.


Music can have a profound effect on us all. As magic maker J.K. Rowling said:

“Ah, music: A magic beyond all we do here.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

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