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Maryville University brings the joy and healing power of music to kids at St. Louis pediatric cancer centers.

Kids Rock Cancer (KRC) is an innovative program, using the proven healing power of music therapy, to help children cope with the emotional challenges that accompany a cancer diagnosis. This type of therapy helps children combat feelings of anxiety, depression, uncertainty and helplessness. The program provides:

  1. A vehicle for self-expression, self-esteem and accomplishment
  2. A distraction from the physical and emotional pain
  3. A sense of joy and optimism

About Kids Rock Cancer

Kids Rock Cancer (KRC), inspired by the Purple Songs Can Fly program at Texas Children’s Hospital, was established in November 2009 at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center. Leveraging Maryville University’s unique Music Therapy program, the only fully accredited program in the St. Louis area, it pairs children undergoing cancer treatment with certified music therapists. These therapists help over 1,000 children express their emotions and stories through music and songwriting, creating a powerful message of strength and resilience.

Kids Rock Cancer helps children find their inner musician at the following locations: SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, SSM Health Cancer Care Clinics, and Healing Reimagined at Mercy Hospital in Washington, Missouri.

By expanding its reach, KRC also supports children affected by family members’ battles with cancer, sickle cell and blood disorders, facilitating emotional processing and family bonding through music creation. This therapeutic approach not only empowers the children but also brings comfort and joy to their families, reinforcing the healing power of music.

Our Process

Kids Rock Cancer offers a unique therapeutic outlet for children facing the emotional turmoil of cancer or blood disorders, whether their own or a family member’s. Through sessions tailored to each child’s needs and feelings on that particular day, experienced music therapists help them channel their emotions—ranging from fear and pain to love and joy—into songwriting and music. This creative process allows children to express difficult emotions or simply enjoy being a child again, turning their thoughts about everything from medical treatments to personal interests into powerful musical expressions.

This program not only serves as a distraction from the physical and emotional challenges these children face but also empowers them, giving them a voice and transforming them into rock stars in their own right. The act of creating music has been known to lessen the need for pain medication and provide a sense of control over their situation. For both children and their families, Kids Rock Cancer brings a sense of normalcy, fun, and togetherness, helping them to navigate the challenges of illness with strength and unity.

Maryville’s Music Therapy Program

Maryville University’s Music Therapy Program, established in 1972, stands as the sole provider of music therapy degree programs in the St. Louis area, boasting full accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) and approval by the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA). This program underlines music therapy’s role as a significant force in healthcare, utilizing music to facilitate change across various clinical environments.

Offering both undergraduate (BS in Music Therapy) and graduate (MMT) degrees, Maryville’s program equips students for a dynamic and fulfilling career in a growing field. The curriculum is designed to build upon basic music therapy skills acquired at the undergraduate level with more advanced clinical training, research, theory, and ethical practices at the graduate level. This comprehensive approach ensures that professionals are well-prepared to employ music interventions effectively to achieve individualized therapeutic goals, enhancing the quality of life for their clients through the clinical and evidence-based use of music.

Interested in becoming a music therapist? Click the button below to learn more about how to apply.

Meet The Team










Get Involved with Kids Rock Cancer

Support Kids Rock Cancer with your donation to continue to provide free music therapy for children with cancer or blood disorders. Your generosity enables us to bring healing through music.

Volunteers fuel our mission, and there are many ways to contribute, from spreading awareness and hosting fundraising events to participating in planning and providing resources for music therapy sessions.

For more information or to get involved, please reach out to