Making musical connections

Making musical connections

Newly formed staff ensemble makes hospital debut

By Jimmy McLaughlin; Photo by Mindy Miller

UF Health Shands Arts in Medicine recently launched a program uniting faculty, staff and students together in musical harmony. The pilot UF Health Staff Music Ensemble made its debut in the UF Health Shands Hospital Atrium in May.


(From left) Hailee Cornett, a UF College of Liberal Arts and Sciences student; Addie Grikstas, a UF College of Health and Human Performance graduate; Linda Morris, M.S.N., R.N., NE-BC, a UF Health Shands Hospital SAGE nurse; and Ferol Carytsas, UF Health Shands AIM volunteer coordinator, collaborated during a recent UF Health Staff Music Ensemble rehearsal.

“It’s a component that’s been missing from our program,” said Ferol Carytsas, UF Health Shands Arts in Medicine volunteer coordinator. “I have dreams of expanding the ensemble. It’s a matter of finding and engaging staff members and physicians.”

The only requirement to join the ensemble is musical experience — whether it’s from college, primary school or elsewhere — and the ability to read sheet music. All faculty, staff, alumni and students are welcome. Carytsas leads rehearsals every other Tuesday from 5:15-6:30 p.m. at the UF Health Shands Facilities Administration Building off Newell Drive and hopes to expand the instrumentation.

Carytsas, a professionally trained musician, received her inspiration from similar programs at Duke University and University of Michigan medical centers. Both programs united top physicians, faculty and staff through music and recruited as many as 90 members.

“There are a lot of studies that show how music improves well-being,” Carytsas said. “It’s about building community and coming together in a creative and non-threatening environment.”

Linda Morris, M.S.N., R.N., NE-BC, a UF Health Shands Hospital SAGE nurse, was the program’s first “recruit.” She played with Carytsas at a wedding before the ensemble united. Morris is often the group’s unofficial music selector, choosing pieces ranging from Coldplay to Mozart to Aerosmith and even “Phantom of the Opera.”

“The music we’re playing is fun and accessible to both ourselves and our audience,” Morris said. “I really enjoy playing with other employees, and I know there are many others in the organization who are musically gifted. I encourage them to check it out.”