Instrument cart gives patients and their families the opportunity to make memories and music together

Melissa Varner
January 01, 2020
Tammy Flovin's music cart


Music therapist Tammy Flovin smiles as she pushes a heavy duty red and black plastic cart around the lobby of Ashley River Tower at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). Inside its double doors, the cart holds an autoharp, two West African hand drums called djembes (pronounced gym-bays), xylophones, a tambourine, a Tibetan singling bowl, egg shakers, and more. It’s the first instrument cart for the Arts in Healing Program.

“Our offices are all the way over on Ashley Avenue. With MUSC being as spread out as it is, we were kind of limited in what we could do,” Flovin explained. “Yes, I can bring my guitar. I can hold stuff, like two djembes walking down the Greenway. But the cart allows us to have more instruments in this building.”

Flovin can also easily roll the cart over to see patients and families at Hollings Cancer Center at MUSC, Main University Hospital, the children’s hospital, or the Institute of Psychiatry.

The cart also means music therapists like Flovin can give families an even more meaningful experience together, like writing a song and then performing it as a family band. “It just gives them that time together,” she said. “Before it was just me and a guitar. And I would bring a couple of small things, but I can't bring all of this.” 

A $2,000 grant from the Giving Back Program paid for the cart and new instruments, like drums that are compatible with Apple iPad for recording family jam sessions or a loved one’s heartbeat set to music. The Giving Back Grant Program was started by the Medical University Hospital Authority in 2011. The grant money comes from patient donations and can be used for a wide range of initiatives or special needs like employee training, equipment, and patient support.

“Thank you, I really appreciate it,” Flovin said. “It's been wonderful for the patients.”  

About the Author

Melissa Varner

Keywords: Thank You Notes