By Bev Foster
Music has gained acceptance as a viable therapeutic modality in health care, contributing to quality of life and care. The most common healthcare settings where music is used include:
Research has shown that the effects of music benefit the whole person. Music can influence breathing, enhance mood, increase social engagement, trigger memories and provide peace and comfort. Remember that music can also have adverse effects.
Here are six things to consider as you begin.
Everyone can engage music for well-being. Music care is the intentional use of music by anyone for health and well-being. It is delivered in healthcare settings in a number of ways. Read more about the 10 domains of music care delivery.
As a musician, you bring honed performance skills, musical intuition and perhaps personal care experiences into care contexts. You will be promoting the benefits of music in real-time, which involves potential community-building, decreased isolation, novelty of live musicians and music in a care setting, and the spontaneity and interaction live music brings.
Prior to getting involved in music-making in healthcare settings, consider your scope of practice, which includes your training, experience and personal comfort levels. You are a music therapist only if you are credentialed as a music therapist.
Musicians offer several kinds of programming in healthcare settings. What will you offer?
During the pandemic when access is limited, connect with a care site either by phone or email. Typically, ask or look for the program manager, or volunteer coordinator. In hospital settings, look for the patient experience or community engagement team. Building relationships and trust takes time. You can do this by:
You are providing music care for persons, not pathologies. Some may be non-verbal, and your music may elicit a connection and communication. Others may have hearing deficits. Still others may be near death, and delivery must be sensitive.
Infection control is always a big concern in healthcare settings and even more so with the pandemic. Protocols may be in place which you will need to follow. Beyond the residents or patients, participants may be others in the circle of care, including staff, volunteers, and family members. Understanding who you are dealing with makes for greater impact and helps you develop your program.
Start in your own community. Grow from there.
Healthcare settings have a range of roles possible for musicians from volunteer to fully-paid professionally-scaled musicians. For example, Concerts in Care are set up regionally across Canada and audition players https://healtharts.org/. If you want to expand your brand to include healthcare settings, be sure your rates and the services provided are clear. A good example of this is https://fitasafiddle.ca/.
For more information and recent research on music in health care settings, see Room 217 Research