Music As Therapy


Music’s healing powers help VNA hospice patients find peace.

In our Philadelphia Hospice program, we treat our patients and their families with more than just pain relief and comfort, but we treat all five of a person’s senses.

The sense of hearing is believed to be the last sense to leave a human being. Our Medical Director, Dr. Stanley Savinese said this when asked if this was indeed true. “Yes. I do believe that hearing is the last sense to go. Dying patients who are otherwise unresponsive will often show that they sense their loved ones voices.”

What a powerful and awesome message. It’s one of the reasons we believe so strongly in our music-therapy program. People can hear it!

Recorded music is sometimes played for our patients and their families by our volunteers. Other times, we are fortunate enough to have our harpist, Lynn Wetherbee, play right in a patient’s room or in the hallway of our Inpatient Unit.

Effects of Music Therapy

According to The Music for Healing and Transition Program, Inc., research shows that music therapy may provide the following benefits:

  • Relieve anxiety and stress
  • Provide distraction
  • Stabilize heart rate
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Decrease muscular tension

Comments from our harpist, Lynn, Certified Music Practitioner

“As I begin a music session, it creates a sacred moment and space, stopping time for a minute. People in the same room can have very different experiences. The patient who had been sleeping a lot can suddenly become animated. The family member who has been so busy with care giving and so exhausted from all of the stress can begin to fall asleep or just deeply relax.”

 Comments from patients:

“I had a lot on my mind and your music helped me forget my troubles.”

“I really needed that. This was the highlight of my day.”

 “That was my husband’s favorite song. It helps me remember him.”

We believe music can bring comfort and healing, not only for our patients, but their loved ones as well.


About Maureen Murphy 9 Articles
Maureen is the Senior VP for Development for the VNA Hospice of Philadelphia; the only nonprofit, freestanding hospice unit in the Philadelphia Metro area. A dedicated team of healthcare pros, including nurses, chaplains, social workers, home health aides, and therapists (including therapy dogs!) — provide home health and hospice care to all, regardless of ability to pay.

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