Aug 10, 2021 10:00 AM

Read time: 3 minutes

Heather Fellows plays guitar for Alexandra Sanders

Video transcript 

Heather Fellows, SCMT, MT-BC
I feel really grateful to have the career that I have. Not only do I get to share music with people;

I get to bring a joyful—even cathartic—experience to the patients.

Things that people might prescribe music therapy for would be pain, physical symptoms, nausea, sleep, coping with grief, coping with loss, coping with all of the things—the hospitalization itself.

It could look like maybe doing songs and inviting the patient to sing along or engage by shaking a shaker or even playing an instrument, to active music-making. Sometimes we go into making music together. If they can play along that emotional expression may be something that's just under the surface that needs to come forward.

With Alex in particular, it provided this environment where she could talk about her fears, she could talk about the things she felt she was missing out on, she could talk about her frustration, and we were able to open the door to that conversation through the music.

Alexandra Sanders, HCI patient:

I'd been here for a while and they said, "Well, we have music therapy", and I was like, "Um. I'm good." [laughs] "I'm not musical. I like to listen to music but I don't sing." The nurse was like, "No, I really think that you'd enjoy it. Just give it a try."

It made me feel so much better and I always looked forward to getting that little bit of time of just thinking about something else and enjoying something else and it totally would shift the mood of that day.

It wasn't always happy and uplifting but sometimes I didn't need that either.

Sometimes I needed that moment of music to let me release those emotions that had been pent-up.

Heather Fellows, SCMT, MT-BC:

When you're talking about patients who, a lot of things are happening to them so they don't get a choice about their diagnosis or even sometimes the things that we have to do to help them with their diagnosis, and so because it's an environment where they feel like a lot of power is being taken from them, being able to provide those kinds of choices is an empowering thing.

It's a very vulnerable space when music is touching you to your core and that's not easy and I recognize that and I feel really honored that people invite me in that space.

Alexandra Sanders, HCI patient:

This hospital does such a good job of making sure that everything is so well-rounded.

It's bringing in things like the music therapy and the massage therapy and these things that you don't realize make such a huge impact.

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