Therapeutic Music Enhances Resident Quality of Life

by J. Aileen Kelley, MA, CMP

Mention music to anyone, and it is likely that they will have an opinion to express.  We know what we like and what makes us feel good.  But now with modern scientific research on how music has those good effects, we are putting the power of music to work in a therapeutic way, to bring about change and stabilization in patients in healthcare facilities.

Two main streams exist within the therapeutic music world.  The practice of Music Therapy began to emerge in the post-World War II era, when the use of music in the care of wounded soldiers rendered remarkable results.  As this practice has grown, Music Therapists have focused on rehabilitation techniques and interactive therapies where patients are involved in making music and interacting with the therapist.

More recently (within the past 20 years), Certified Music Practitioners® (CMPs),  have joined the scene bringing intentional music to the bedside to support patients with respiratory problems, high blood pressure, anxiety, pain, memory loss or confusion, and a variety of other conditions.  CMPs are trained in a nationally credentialed program, to work with healthcare teams to facilitate the comfort of the patient.  No interaction is required of the patient, and in fact, patients are often told that "It's ok if you fall asleep during the session."  The music helps stabilize body rhythms by providing rhythmic support, and affords a "deeper than words" level of comfort to patients in distress.  CMPs use elements of music to facilitate the comfort of patients, "in the moment," according to their individual needs.

And yes, even the dying may be comforted and their physical condition eased by a unique style of music that practitioners are trained to provide.  After a lifetime of steady body rhythms, many patients struggle as those rhythms change at end of life.  Music for end of life is primarily improvised by the practitioner to meet the immediate condition of the patient, easing this transitional change.

Our practice is built around the use of live music, individualized for each patient.

You can find more information on our training as music practitioners at Music for Healing and Transition, Inc. is the largest national accredited training organization. The website has a list, by region, of certified Music Practitioners (CMPs).  Facilities may contract with practitioners directly, or in some areas there are local organizations of practitioners.

A Sacramento based non-profit, Music Partners in Healthcare, inc. is one such organization that promotes live bedside music of certified music practitioners,

As healthcare moves forward in the 21st century, the expanding use of live therapeutic music at bedside is an acknowledgement that good medicine addresses body, mind, and spirit.