Music Therapy and Song Writing

Posted onCategoriesTCC Blog

Here I want to address music therapy issues and concepts as they relate to education, health and wellness.

This is part of my blog posts where I describe music therapy interactions I’ve had that are indicative of why music is so healing, meaningful, enriching and sometimes life changing! 

This post describes a series of music therapy sessions with a woman on our hospice service. This elderly woman, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, loves music and her Christian faith. 

     Our chaplain first told me of “the new patient who recites a poem or psalm that she (the patient) says ‘was given to her by God…’ “ The chaplain emailed me the religious poem. My initial thought was that I would put music to her words, a task I have done with music therapy clients for years. Her lyric was very organized and very easy to put music to. 

The next day I was excited to visit with “song in hand” to play it for her. I was excited because so often in the past, when I would put music to clients’ words, seeing their reaction was most often priceless. Our patient was very receptive to hear her song but after I played it she said “it’s nice but the melody’s not right…” What I failed to realize was that she also had a melody to her words. She said “God gave me the words AND the music…” So I was very pleased to support and encourage her to sing the song as I recorded it so I could then write out the accompaniment. In a faint, frail voice she sang the song. After recording it on my phone I finally put accompaniment music, her music, together with her words. The next visit I was very excited to play the finished song for her. After playing it she said… “it’s good, except there is one wrong note…” I was so pleasantly surprised because she supposedly has Alzheimer’s. I then slowly went through each line with her until she pointed out the “wrong note.” We then easily fixed that note and when I played it for her she sang and was very pleased. The experience for me was again priceless. The next visit I had a CD and printed out lyric sheet of her song for her and her family.

So, “Why music??”… To provide a “platform” and opportunity for an individual to share life experiences. In this case, the woman described a spiritual experience that has a deep effect on her hopefulness, security and her feelings of productiveness as she shared her important message with me and others. For her it is not only sharing the literal message of the song that affected her but it is important for her to help others understand that she “received a gift from God.”