We asked Hope’s talented Music Therapists to tell us more about their unique specialty and share their heartwarming stories. Read more for a fascinating glimpse into this wonderful therapeutic intervention.
What’s the best part of being a Music Therapist at Hope Healthcare?
“For me, it’s being able to provide joy, comfort, and humanity to those in their final stages of life with music. Music is such an important part of the human experience, and it’s all around us. Even on the days I feel like I’m not making an impact, patients and families prove me wrong every time by their responses and their thankfulness.”
“The people I work with don’t always see what we do as “therapy” or “work.” In fact, they will often experience a greater benefit because they see our time together as something enjoyable to do. They stay engaged the entire time.”
“I’m fulfilled by this work because it actually makes a positive difference in people’s lives – at a time when they especially need that difference.”
Why did you choose a career as a Music Therapist?
“One day, I was watching ‘The Music Never Stopped’ – a movie about a family who found their estranged son with a brain tumor, unable to make new memories. Through music therapy and a Beatles song, the son suddenly came to life. He was walking, talking, and emerged from his vegetative state. He could recall everything that happened. The movie highlights his journey of recovery and rekindling family relationships through music. That was my inspiration. I always loved helping others, and I didn’t want to give up music, so I decided to pursue this path.”
“While I studied music in college, I realized I could use my talents with my naturally compassionate personality traits to help others and make a difference. The coolest thing is that I get to use a combination of my abilities to help people feel better.”
What do you wish people knew about Music Therapy?
“We’re not the ‘entertainment.’ Music Therapy is a clinical and evidence-based profession that requires an extensive amount of training and board certification. Our work can be seen as entertaining to our patients, families, and the public, but we’re doing much more than that. Like taking the wrong medication, the wrong type of music at the wrong time can cause restlessness, the resurfacing of repressed trauma, anger, anxiety, or sadness. We do so much more than ‘playing music.'”
“For the person receiving therapy, it’s not about performance or ability. I’m not a music teacher. I explain that I use music to reach non-musical goals. People start to understand that the music is just the vessel – not the end goal of our interaction.”
What are some of your favorite memories of Music Therapy?
“A caregiver hadn’t slept well the previous night. She was restless, agitated, and speaking nonsensically. As soon as I began to provide soft, soothing music, she fell – and stayed – asleep in less than three minutes. That was my shortest session ever.”
“I played hymns for a patient to help recreate the experience of going to church. He would always tell me how he felt at peace and how much he loved my visits. It warmed my heart.”
“A woman who was over 100 years old will always sing with me, not matter how tired she was. She could recite almost every hymn with no problems. It was incredible how much she remembered.”
“A women who was rapidly declining wanted to complete a book about her end of life journey, but she was unable to write. With her permission, I helped her record an interview. She spent over an hour talking about her life. After she died, I was about to combine her audio narration and relevant music to create a keepsake CD. Her family had no idea. When I presented it to them, they were blown away by everything she talked about. The visit was filled with tears, laughter, and thankfulness all around.”
“One of the most powerful moments is doing the large group drum circle at Rainbow Trails Camp. Kids of all ages are bonding over a common activity by campfire! In the Hope Kids Care program, some children are able to communicate through music without words. One of my patients interacts through a tablet, and we find ways to “talk” about what he likes. Others will learn to communicate, interact, and enjoy music with their family. I helped fulfill a child’s wish to play with his school’s marching band – then helped him participate in the Edison Festival of Lights parade too.”
“I enjoyed the work I did during the early days of the COVID pandemic. Some of our residents’ only interactions – outside of medical treatments – were these enjoyable experiences with music therapy. They would light up being able to sing with someone and share their memories. One time, a son and daughter were visiting, but their mom was unresponsive. I started to sing some of her favorite songs, and she came alive to interact with her family for a brief moment.”
About Music Therapy at Hope Healthcare
Music Therapy is a part of the comforting, compassionate care provided in many of Hope’s innovative programs. People of all ages and of all ability levels can benefit from these therapeutic interventions. No prior training, musical abilities, or talents are necessary to participate.
To support Hope’s mission of providing exceptional care and support to everyone in need, please consider making a donation at MoreHope.org.