An ICU nurse recently flagged me down as I walked through the unit and said, “I have an elderly patient who is agitated and we are having a hard time keeping her quiet. Her family tells me that she is hard of hearing, but I have an idea that might allow your music to help her.”
Walking into the patient’s suite together, we were greeted by a few family members including the patient’s granddaughter. The patient was constantly shifting in her bed while pulling and picking at just about everything within reach.
“Grandma, there’s a man here who wants to play guitar for you. Will that be OK?” The patient stared at her granddaughter with a blank stare. After a moment the nurse placed her stethoscope in her patient’s ears and the granddaughter repeated her introduction and asked if I could play for her. The grandmother nodded her head, “Yes.”
With the stethoscope in place, the granddaughter held the diaphragm close to my guitar as I began to play. Within minutes, the music began working its magic as the patient began to relax and lie still. With eyes closed, the grandmother’s agitation disappeared while the family marveled at the music’s ability to calm her.
I have been playing therapeutic music since 2009. After all these years, I still find myself humbled and surprised by the power of music and its ability to touch patients in places where medicine cannot reach. Science can explain these occurrences through the concepts of Resonance, Sympathetic Vibration and Entrainment, but it still feels miraculous to me each time I witness a patient’s transformation through the gift of Live Therapeutic Music.