Imagine Dragons visit Banner Cardon Children’s Medical Center in Mesa.
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Imagine Dragons, a popular rock band that was in the Valley on Tuesday to open its new tour, spent some time bringing the power of music to children at Cardon Children’s Medical Center in Mesa before the evening concert.

The band from Las Vegas, known for hit songs such as “Radioactive” and “Believer,” put on a mini jam session for young patients in the center’s new music-therapy room, called Sophie’s Place. The visit to the Banner Health facility came just hours before the band’s show at Talking Stick Resort Arena in downtown Phoenix.

Sophie’s Place, which is donor-supported, was established in memory of Sophie Barton, a girl who dedicated her short life to playing music for sick kids before she died from heart conditions at age 17.

The Grammy award-winning group, made up of lead singer Dan Reynolds, guitarist Wayne Sermon, bassist Ben McKee and drummer Daniel Platzman, sat in a circle of children with drums, guitars and tambourines in hand, singing karaoke style to their songs.


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The band let children ask them questions, the first one being, “How old are you?”

Then they gave musical tips to a young boy named Nathan who was holding a guitar. The boy grew up learning music at the hospital as a patient, a hospital official said. Nathan told the band the first song he learned was “Radioactive.”

Platzman later taught the group how to drum on the upbeat and downbeat of a song, but also told them, “There’s no wrong way to express yourself on a drum.”

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Olivia Houck, the pediatric music therapist at Cardon Children’s, said the center was approached by the Forever Young Foundation, which connected it with Imagine Dragons.

She said the band was not only able to see how music therapy works, but was able to meet children whose lives have been impacted by their music.

“Who knows the song ‘Radioactive?’ ” Houck asked the group of young children. Almost every hand shot up.

Music therapy uses patient-preferred music as a way to relieve stress, and it unites families during these hard times in the hospital, according to Houck.

“You don’t hear a lot of music in the hospital,” she said. “There’s lots of beeping and lots of machines going off, and music can either complement that really well or make it kind of disappear for a little while.”

Houck said the idea behind Sophie’s Place was to create a safe haven that did not look like part of the hospital, where patients and families could go to play instruments, sing or record music in their recording studio.

“Music is really personal, and it’s really good at meeting people where they’re at,” she said.

The hospital has never had an entertainer as large as Imagine Dragons in Sophie’s Place, but Houck said they hope to get more performers in the future.

“I could hear all the little voices of the patients around me who may not have sung very loudly, but for them, that’s huge,” she said. “They can go home and say that ‘I got to sing alongside Imagine Dragons today.’ “

Kassi Moyers was one who decided to bring her family to this intimate concert. Her son, LJ, received treatments from the hospital for a couple of months after he was diagnosed with stage three lymphoma when he was 5.

Moyers said music therapy was not yet a part of treatment at the hospital, but she sees its growth and impact on children now.

“I think music changes your emotions about things, it makes you happy, and I feel like it makes such a huge difference in the kids who are sick,” she said. “When you play music, it just makes them feel a lot better.”

LJ, who said he is a big fan of Imagine Dragons, sat beside lead singer Dan Reynolds during the session.

He said his favorite instrument to play was the drums and that his favorite song is “Believer.”


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