A-Z List

Terminal Illness and Music Therapy

Internet Articles

by Jennette Eckert - Fall 1999

Internet Address: http://members.aol.com/kathysl/cancer.html

Music therapy goals for patients who are terminally ill are discussed. Some of theses goals include providing a way to decrease pain, to increase expression of feelings, and to aid in other areas where the patient may be lacking physically, mentally, or emotionally. Music can affect people by developing relaxation, emotional and spiritual awareness, communication, and structure for their lives. One example to illustrate a getting acquainted icebreaker is to request the patient to choose one or two songs to describe independently. The therapist also participates in this activity. Each person presents a song. After the listening activity is completed, a discussion is held about the feelings which were elicited. Once the common bond is formed, the therapist may play songs on musical instruments to further develop a relationship with the patient and to continue the discussion of their feelings.

Internet Address: http://www.info.london.on.ca/~jacbrown/therapy.html

This site is authored by Jacquelyn Brown, an applied harp musician who is pursuing a degree in harp therapy. Although she is not a music therapist, she has a history of therapeutic experiences with terminally ill patients. She has been working as an uncertified harp therapist at her local hospital for about three years and reports that the harp is very calming. The vibration and gentleness truly speaks to the patient emotionally and helps to enhance the quality of life for those faced with death. One suggestion she gives to assist the loved ones in coping with their losses is to make a tape of composed songs and songs that the patient played, sang or listened to and loved.

Internet Address: http://detnews.com/1997/accent/9704/10/04100127.htm

This site serves as a sort of advertisement for a seminar in Detroit. There is applicable information given for music therapists and thanatologists about the therapeutic use of music. The author described how she plays her harp and sings to comfort the dying and how music can be very important in helping patients deal with their spiritual anguish and physical pain. An oncologist reported that music therapy could reach the spiritual anguish patients go through when nothing else is working to do so.

Internet Address: http://www.deerhollow.com/marilyns.htm

The author of this site, Marilyn Wienand, is an accomplished musician from the University of Colorado-Boulder who is pursuing her doctorate in Music Arts. She volunteers at local nursing homes by playing the harp and singing to elderly patients. One notable experience she encountered is that a patient diagnosed with late stage Alzheimer's disease awoke from a coma in response to the music.

Internet Address: http://www.globalideasbank.org/LA/LA-4.HTML

This article describes terminally ill patients and their views on their life. Dr. Speyer focuses on the fact that because patients who are terminally ill believe that the doctor/therapist/nurse will be here after they've gone, they aren't always receptive to recommendations from the professionals. One way that is suggested for dealing with the resistance is to help the patient realize that all people die, including the doctor/therapist/nurse. A stronger patient-doctor relationship may be developed after this realization.