Music is in the Air

“If music be the food of love, play on.” – Shakespeare

In continuing partnership with Kasih Hospice Care Society, MSMM once again volunteered at Selayang Hospital, Kuala Lumpur Palliative Care Unit. Dr Foo I-Wei as well as Sherrene Teh and Cheryl Mow who are both music therapists spent the morning bringing live music to patients. There were altogether 14 volunteers. The patients chose a mix of English, Malay and Chinese songs.

The combined eagerness and care of the volunteers from both societies managed to brighten up an otherwise routine dreary day in the ward. Some songs from yesteryear brought wistful expressions to the terminally ill, while other songs visibly soothed them and calmed their breathing.

The smiles on the faces of the patients and their caregivers were priceless. “Thank you for bringing music to us. It’s something different to my day here,” said one of the youngest patient in the ward. “Esok boleh datang lagi tak? (Could you come again tomorrow?)”, asked another patient.

In addition to bringing live music to palliative care units, the patients can also benefit from music therapy.

Music Therapy in Hospice Care

Music therapy is ideal for addressing the needs of patients and families in hospice and palliative care because the goal of these services is to support quality of life by addressing the physical, emotional, cognitive, communication, social, and spiritual needs. Music therapy can support these needs and often effectively treats multiple domains simultaneously. By its nature, music therapy provides a noninvasive, patient-centered approach that addresses the patients’ everchanging needs as well as their strengths and abilities. Music therapists are also skilled at adapting techniques to meet these ever-changing needs of a patient. For example, cancer patients admitted with a high level of functioning can continue to meet with the therapist who can adapt to their changes over the course of the illness and even after they experience physical and functional decline. Music therapy works well within hospice and palliative care because music therapists are trained to work collaboratively within a medical model. Their thorough education includes assessment, documentation, treatment planning, clinical skills, patient monitoring, and adapting techniques. Music therapists are also skilled at providing bereavement groups to children and adults in both individual and group settings. (Introducing music therapy in hospice and palliative care, January 2010)

Sherrene (playing the guitar) together with volunteers from Kasih Hospice singing a Chinese song requested by one of the caregivers.

Sherrene with 3 student volunteers having a chat with the patient.

The student volunteers singing along to “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz

Cheryl Mow (on guitar) and Foo I-Wei (with djembe) singing Teresa Teng’s The Moon Represents My Heart together with volunteers from Kasih Hospice Society

Reach out and touch someone

Brightening up a patient’s face and day

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