Every week, three music therapists from MJHS Hospice and Palliative Care crisscross the city and suburbs to sing songs to the dying. With guitars strapped to their backs, a flute or tambourine and a songbook jammed in their backpacks, they play music for more than 100 patients, in housing projects, in nursing homes and even in a lavish waterfront home. The time for chemotherapy and radiation is over.It's a jobs program for sensitive young women who might feel uncomfortable busking on the city streets, waiting for cold-hearted businessmen to drop a dollar in their guitar cases. The government will drop the dollar in, and the elderly patients will be too polite (and also physically unable) to walk away.
The music begins: a song to hold death at bay, a song to embrace death, or to praise God. A Vietnam veteran asks for a song in Vietnamese. One man asked only for songs with death in the lyrics, to force his family to talk to him about the future. He was ready to talk about it. They weren’t. So the therapist sang Queen’s version of “Another One Bites the Dust.” “Amazing Grace” and other spiritual songs are most often requested just before death.
Welcome to the hospice, where the strumming of Joan Baez wannabes will prepare you for death. They will ease your "final transition." You'll be ready to die before they're ready to leave. If you hang out too long at the hospice, be forewarned: When you've heard "Amazing Grace" 10,000 times, you've only just begun.
Can't we please pick our own music? Recorded music played by virtuouso musicians? Maybe Beethoven's 6th Symphony.... or "The Man in the Box"....
IN THE COMMENTS: Jim said:
I was on the faculty in a music department with a music therapy program for ~25 years, and taught a couple of courses to students majoring in MT during that time.ALSO: When you get to that hospice and the folksinger arrives, remember John Belushi. (Suggestion via RLC in the email and Sixty Grit in the comments.)
The MT professors/practitioners have been relentlessly pursuing their dream of obtaining funding from medical insurance and the public schools. They point to a growing body of MT research - all of it advocacy, most of it incompetent, much of it just silly - to support their lobbying for the loot.