Hannah Moses Demonstrates the Powerful Connection Between Music and Healing

I have now been cancer free for 11 years. Music played an enormous part in my own healing process and has continued to be an incredibly important part of who I am. I can’t imagine my life without it.

Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Hannah Moses performs on From the Top

In January of 2001, six-year-old Hannah Moses (Show 241) was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphona. While being treated at the Cleveland Clinic, she found her cello to be a source of both comfort and happiness. Fast forward to 2012 – Hannah, now cancer free, wanted to share the healing power of music and highlight its importance as a method of therapy. She traveled to the Cleveland Clinic with friend and violinist Haruno Sato (Show 241), where they performed for guests and patients in the clinic’s lobby. She was then invited to attend a Cleveland Clinic Child Life staff meeting to share her own personal struggle with cancer, and how music became a powerful tool in helping her cope with recovery. She says the following about the visit:

Our goal was simply to share our music and demonstrate the important role that music and art play in healing.”

We asked Hannah a few questions to learn more about her visit to the Cleveland Clinic…

FTT: What was it was like having to stay for months in a hospital at such a young age?

Hannah: The hospital can be a scary place for anyone, but I remember it being especially confusing and foreign to me as a kid. The first thing I noticed was the constant noise – pagers going off, the beeping of the IV’s, nurses coming in and out of my room to check my meds; it never seemed to stop, not even at night. I never fully got used to all the sounds – which made for a lot of sleepless nights over the next several months.

FTT: What role did music play in helping you cope with this?

Hannah at the Cleveland Clinic Child Life staff meeting

Hannah: I remember one day my dad brought my cello to the hospital and my mom practiced with me like we did every day at home. Being able to have my cello there with me helped me block everything else out – not just the constant noise, but also the reality that was cancer.
It gave me a sense of something normal to hold on to, and some days that was the only thing that kept me going. A lot of people don’t realize how much children understand. I may have been only six, but I knew what was happening to me, and music was my way of coping. Because of the cancer, I could hardly walk, and because of the chemo I had very little control over my body. Being able to express myself through music was something that couldn’t be taken away from me; it was something that was still mine.

FTT: Tell us more about your recent visit to the Cleveland Clinic with Haruno: 

Hannah: It was really nice to perform at the hospital, regardless of whether people stopped to listen or not. The atmosphere of a hospital can be very rushed and frantic, and adding our music made it feel brighter – whether we were taking turns playing Bach or laughing our way through the Handel-Halvorsen, it was a great experience all around!

After we played we were escorted to the Child Life staff meeting, where my mom and I spoke about my own battle with cancer 11 years ago and the impact music and art had on my healing.  The Clinic is trying to expand their music therapy program and they have weekly scheduled performances in the main lobby.  The staff we spoke to were very responsive and enthusiastic, and the session turned into a casual, friendly discussion. 

FTT: What do you believe it means to be an arts leader?

Hannah: Being an arts leader means looking beyond the physical flaws and seeing the potential and the beauty that is in everyone; seeing the determination, vitality, passion for living, and capacity to love that everybody has, and celebrating that.