Florida Cellist Calms Shelter Dogs with Her Classical Music

Posted by Amber King
woman playing cello at animal shelter

A Florida cellist earns two paws up from her four-legged audience.

When Natalie Helm was hired by the Sarasota Orchestra, she moved from her home city of Louisville with a plan to share her talent with others and improve her craft. Her years of training and practice earned her a seat in the area's renowned symphony orchestra, but recently, she's been sharing her musical ability with a different kind of crowd.

After performing with the newly formed Upward Notes charity ensemble at nursing homes and homeless shelters, Helm was inspired by the power her cello had on those in need. She'd been an animal lover her entire life, and the decision to play at the Humane Society of Sarasota County in Florida simply felt right. She told People:

"The goal is to help calm dogs down and help them relax."

The cellist visited the shelter around Christmas and treated the temporary residents to a live concert including Bach's Cello Suites and calming holiday favorites. Instead of a stage in a grand auditorium surrounded by rows of people, the professional cellist sat on a folding chair in the aisle between two rows of kennels. Her audience members included about 30 dogs from all walks of life and of all breeds.

Christen Benson, executive director of the shelter said,

"She has a gift and we were so grateful that she shared it with our shelter pets. She enriched their lives."

Shelter staff members have long since recognized the calming effects classical music has on their often-times anxious animals. They regularly play soothing music over a speaker system, and Helm believes the dogs appreciated the life performance.

"Although, there was one hound dog who wanted to howl along at first. He finally settled down and laid down on his bed to listen with the other dogs. I could really sense they were enjoying it--there was a real feeling of peacefulness that spread quickly through the kennels."

Bensen said:

"It was truly amazing to witness the transformation in our dogs once she began playing."

When asked why she decided to do it, Helm concluded:

"I'm a firm believer in giving back any way I can. I'm just getting my life started, so I don't really have money. But I have time, and I have a talent. I also love dogs. So when I visited the animal shelter, I thought, 'Hey, why not?"

What do you about this act of kindness? Let us know in the comments below!

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Florida Cellist Calms Shelter Dogs with Her Classical Music