I play at the bedside of patients with terminal illnesses in hospice care, whether in a facility or in a private home. I am not a 'performer,' but a clinician who creates music based on a patient's needs in the moment. The type of music I play is based on a patient's breathing, consciousness, eye-flutter, and other factors. I use my training and my intuition to create a product on the fly.Note: All quoted passages below are from the Music Thanatology Association International Web site. This site describes what I do now, and what I hope to do in the future.
"Music Thanatology" is a new term, thoug its roots are ancient. Four decades ago, ancient practices met up with modern medicine in modern times, and the discipline has been growing ever since. Music thanatologists create live music "in the moment" to serve
"the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the dying and their loved ones with prescriptive music." Prescriptive music is live music that responds to the physiological needs of the patient moment by moment. For example, by observing vital signs such as heart rate, respiration and temperature, the music-thanatologist provides music that is tailored to each specific situation. The warmth of this living music can bring solace, dignity and grace to those nearing the ultimate journey at the end of life."
A more detailed description of what music thanatologists do, their qualifications, and more information can be found at the MTAI Website. A recent article was published in the New York Times explainingthe work "Providing the Soundtrack for Life's Lasts Moments" is available at this link.
I am not certified by MTAI as a musical thanatologist. I am a graduate of the IHTP, with the title "Harp Therapy Practitioner." We are commonly referred to as "Clinical/Therapeutic Musicians." The IHTP is certified by the National Standards Board of Therapeutic Musicians. My training included service to dying people and their families in hospice facilities and home hospice care using music. There is overlap in the two approaches, but Music Thanatology training is more comprehensive, and includes over 300 hours of supervision in clinical settings playing vigils for hospice patients. It is my desire to enter the next cohort of Music Thanatology training in Oregon in 2016.
What kind of music is provided?
"In general, the music is quiet, restful, and meditative. While the material used might draw from sources such as sacred song (Gregorian chants, hymns, prayer and praise songs), lullabies and other traditional forms, it is important to understand that these sources simply provide seed material which can then be tailored to suit the needs of the situation at hand. Prescriptive music is not dependent on specific repertoire. Instead, it is a way of being present to both the obvious and the subtle aspects of a situation, analyzing options, and responding in a deeply musical way. Whether conscious or unconscious, the patient is always in charge of the musical direction because we connect at the level of breath, pulse, temperature, pain, effort, and tension; things that we all share by dint of our basic humanity. With this focus, the music can address the needs of each unique individual. In this way, the music seeks to be an expression of beauty and love; and as such, it transcends diverse affiliations of faith and culture."
Why improvised music and not beloved, familiar music?
"While there is certainly a place for commonly known music or "old favorites" during many phases of life, music-thanatologists will distinctly steer toward music that is unassociated with particular memories, thoughts or feelings. With this intention of holding a focus on the present moment, the alternation of sound and silence will tend to encourage the listener to simply receive on a deep level."
I do not charge for this service - I do ask for a small honorarium to cover fuel costs, travel and parking to your location on O'ahu. Other donations/honorarium sums are accepted, though certainly not required. I offer this service to the O'ahu Community from my heart as as a gift of service.
If this interests you, please contact me.