3-year-old Golisano leukemia patient benefits from music therapy

Reporter: Amanda Hall Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:

For Miracle Monday, meet Golisano Children’s Hospital’s board-certified music therapist and a 3-year-old leukemia patient benefitting from her unique treatments.

Sometimes a song comes on the radio and immediately puts you in a better mood, and there’s science behind that. Music can have mood-shifting superpowers. And a good beat and a catchy chorus are just what you need when you’re 3 and battling leukemia, like Ryker Privett.

‘Music therapy day is, I think, the favorite for all of us, not just Ryker, because she comes in with a little magic bag of wonder ahead,” said Crystal Coyne, Ryker’s mother. “It’s just this bag of different sounds and play instruments.”

“I’ve got all kinds of drums and tambourines,” said Tracey Failla, music therapist at Golisano Children’s Hospital. “I’ve got shakers that look like fruit.”

Failla has been working as a music therapist at Golisano for eight years.

“Combining music and then helping people was really important to me,” Failla said.

Every child is different, so her approach has to be, too.

“I use all different kinds of things to help our children while they’re here, so whether that’s playing instruments to help express their emotions, or maybe we create music using some of our technology,” Failla said. “For some of our long-term kiddos, I might do instrument lessons, because that, you know, is helping with their motor skills… teaching them a new skill, teaching them a coping mechanism, because here’s something that they’re learning to do, that they can do independently.”

The lessons and jam sessions make a world of difference, and Ryker’s mom can see it.

“All of a sudden, they’re just playing and having such a great time… the whole air of the room is different,” Crystal Coyne said. “As a parent, anytime your child has a look of curiosity and that smile of wonder, it’s a win. It’s a win.”

The music therapy position and all the instruments are fully funded by donations. If you make a donation to Children’s Miracle Network or directly to Golisano Children’s Hospital, you are helping to make music happen for children who are undergoing treatment.

From April 1 to 30, Southwest Florida Ace Hardware locations are allowing customers to round up their purchases at the cash register to support Children’s Miracle Network. Costco joins the effort from May 1 to 31.

Ryker Privett is scheduled to continue treatment through December 2024.

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