Therapeutic Music: A Breakthrough in the World of Relaxation

By School of Management Posted Sun, 12/10/2017 - 12:55

Joanna Yu MSEI ’18 shares her journey which inspired the creation of her music therapy-inspired app, Humm.ly.

Master of Science in Entrepreneurship and Innovation (MSEI) student Joanna Yu ’18 is the CEO and Founder of Humm.ly--an app with the mission to heal people through music.

Yu has had a passion for performing arts since she was a child. At the age of seven, she began acting, and playing the piano and cello. Part of her dedication to music was driven by her relationship with her father, who suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Because of his PTSD, Yu explained he was very isolated, speaking almost exclusively to Yu’s mother. The only times Yu remembers her father seeming at peace was when he heard her play music.

“I really hope people can benefit from music,” said Yu. “When people are traumatized or stressed, traditional therapy will not be the only solution.”

Originally from Shanghai, China, Yu came to the United States to pursue her undergraduate degree in mathematics. After graduating, she returned to China to continue her performing arts career, which is when she learned about music therapy. She noticed that many of her friends in the performing industry were suffering from depression. This inspired her to learn how music can heal people, and she returned to the U.S. to study music therapy. At California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, she helped treat Alzheimer patients and other residents by playing piano for them.

Yu said that while pursuing her Entrepreneurship and Innovation degree,

USF has supported my goals by enabling me to develop my startup while earning my degree. I appreciate the program, the environment is really open, and the students and classmates are really supportive.

Although balancing both her professional and academic life can be challenging, she said “I’m doing this thing that creates value for the society. I have to compromise a little bit.”

The app itself has had a great deal of work put into it in a short amount of time. Yu and her co-founder had been friends for seven years before creating Humm.ly and both have strong backgrounds in music. Because of the necessity for quality music in order to be effective, the two worked with professional musicians to create the tracks for the app. Humm.ly is unique because it also empowers the listener with a great deal of control. Through guided imagery, narration, and instrumentals, listeners can choose from a variety of episodes that range from five to thirty minutes in length; the app even has the feature to adjust the specific volumes and reverb of the narration and music.

Because of all the hard work put into creating such a quality app, it has received a great deal of praise and attention from the media, specifically Forbes and Grammy.com. Yu said that moving forward, she hopes that hospitals will begin incorporating Humm.ly into treatment for patients.

"Music is a universal language. It has helped heal my family, friends, and people who were in great pain,” said Yu. “I really hope that the healing power of music will get the recognition it deserves. Bringing technology and music together will create an effective and convenient tool for people whenever they need it."

By Lonny Wysard