Playing therapeutically for patients at their bedside
Imagine you are in the hospital. It’s not serious, but it’s no walk in the park. You don’t want your family to worry, so you put on a good face when they visit. Other visitors are medical staff, and you don’t know when they’ll come by or what they’ll need from you.
There is constant noise from the monitors, the hallway, the other patient in your room. You are a little bit scared. You wish you were home. You wish you felt better.
This is where I come in with a knock at your door. I ask if you’d like a little harp music provided as a service from the hospital. It is not a concert, so you don’t have to pay attention. In fact, it would be a great compliment to me if you fell asleep while I play.
Music for healing, not entertainment
What makes a therapeutic music session different from attending a concert or listening to your iPod?
In a therapeutic session, the practitioner is focused on you and you alone. The practitioner’s goal is not to wow you with their technical prowess or dazzle you with complicated notes and rhythms. The practitioner is trained to assess your needs and respond as your needs change.
Listening to music of your choice on a CD or MP3 player can be therapeutic. But you are limited to the recordings you have at hand. How often have you put on music to relax to and ended up paying more attention to the music than to relaxing?
Another key component to a therapeutic music session that you don’t get from a concert or CD player is silence.
Picture yourself in the most healing environment you can imagine...
What does it sound like? Is there the white noise of waves lapping at the shore or a breeze blowing through the trees? Can you hear the trickle of a fountain, the gentle gong of wind chimes, the occasional call of a bird? Or is there no sound at all?
Your tranquil soundscape is probably sparse. One thing a therapeutic music session provides is an escape from other sounds. The practitioner draws your attention away from the beeps, the clatter, the chit chat. Once you are ensconced in the acoustic tones, the practitioner introduces space to breathe. Long, held notes. Pauses between songs. Now you can hear the silence.