This week I started playing harp at Highline Hospital in Burien. There, I play music at the bedside of patients on the surgery unit, either in pre- or post- operation.
Therapeutic beside music is live acoustic music, played or sung, specifically tailored to the patient’s immediate need, based on the science of sound. It is not entertainment, like music found in the lobby of an institution. It’s purpose is to aid in the healing process for the ill, and help relax their visitors, doctors and hospital staff. First and foremost, therapeutic musicians focus on the patient’s responses to the music, and can change tempo, song, musical mode, style, etc. in the moment. Therapeutic musicians have also studied what style or mode of music is appropriate for the condition that the patient is in. All therapeutic music is played between 60-80 beats per minute, which is the same as the human heart rate.
I am a clinical music intern in the Harp for Healing program, just finishing my last internship requirement. Then I’ll be a Certified Clinical Musician, so I’ll get have some credibility and a title! Monica Schley, CCM.
Previously, I’ve interned at Northwest Kidney Center (a long-time client of mine for their memorial services) and a Seattle hospice care unit. I have found that with each visit I make a friend or two who wants me to return to them regularly.
What does therapeutic music sound like? This.