Those who know me personally are very well aware of my love for music. I inherited this love from my parents. Growing up, I had the honor to spend a few years learning Hindustani Classical music – the tabla, the shehnai, the santoor and the sitar – all these instruments and more hold a very special place in my heart.
To me, music has always been therapeutic. I have turned to music in personal moments of deepest despair as well as overflowing joy. My favorite genres continue to be folk music, Hindustani classical music, Hindi music and so on. Ever since I started working at the hospital, I got to experience a new dimension of music that is played in the background for those, but not limited to, near end of life with the intention of having a calming effect. This explanation is very basic.
There are many sites that go into a lot of detail about music therapy and therapeutic music.The following definition is from the site MusicTherapy.org,
“Therapeutic music is music that helps the process of healing and supports movement towards health. The World Health Organization defines health as: “…a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Therapeutic music supports health and the process of healing primarily through the principles of resonance and entrainment, in which the individual is supported by the elements of music: rhythm, harmony, melody and tonal color.”
I’ve experienced the wonders music creates in multiple patients and family encounters. It got extremely personal when my grandfather was in critical care recently. I was sitting in the patient room with my grandmother who was completely stressed out with granddad’s hospitalization. We sat in silence for most of the time except for the constant beeping of machines – something that I’ve gotten used to through working at the hospital. Suddenly, my grandma remarked, “Shama, where is that music coming from?” I turned around to notice the TV was on in the room and was playing calming therapeutic music. After I explained the source and the purpose, she smiled and said, “That’s such a wonderful thing to do.”
I was amazed at how, despite of the stress on her mind, my grandma noticed the soft music in the background and how it brought a smile to her face. In that moment, I felt that something beyond what I could see or hear was manifesting. I will never forget that moment. Maybe that is why I am writing about it – I do not want to forget that moment.
Music has an ethereal quality about it. I feel bad that I am not able to play any instrument well enough. Maybe I’ll add that to my bucket list.
Until next time,
“Ah, music,” he said, wiping his eyes. “A magic beyond all we do here!” ~J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, 1997