Therapeutic music is music used in a palliative care setting to provide relaxation, alleviate isolation and boredom, calm fears, soothe frustrations, and in some cases help patients make spiritual connections at this most profound stage of life.
Linda Allen is intimately and deeply experienced in the use of music in such a setting. She received her Doctor of Ministry degree in 2006 with a dissertation on the spirituality of voice. Linda earned her certification as a Certified Clinical Musician in 2009, and now works as a therapeutic musician with Hospice of the Northwest.
She has also released two CDs of original music developded particularly for this work - Carry Us Through This Night and Into the Promise of Morning - as well as an accompanying songbook (Carry Us Through This Night), with notation by Rhea Schnurmann, and beautifully illustrated.
Linda offers weekend workshops on the theme of death, dying and grief.
Click here to watch a slide show presentation titled “Compassionate Voices”, highlighting three songs from Carry Us Through This Night. The slideshow was lovingly prepared by the late Colleen O’Rell.
This workshop seeks to provide participants with:
an experience of the genre of healing music;
an understanding of the principles and practices that may be employed in providing therapeutic music;
an experience in the various ways that therapeutic music can be utilized by care partners and families in working with patients who may be alert and responsive, experiencing dementia, or actively dying;
an assortment of resources including songs, videos, articles and books.
In 2008, Linda became interested in bedside singing through the Threshold Choir movement. She founded the Bellingham Threshold Singers in 2008, and founded Women with Wings, in 2011, where she remains a member. The descriptions and focus of each choir are described below.
Women with Wings is a healing song community, founded by Linda in 2011, serving those in need of the gift of therapeutic music. They host sing-a-long song circles in care facilities and shelters along with bi-monthly meetings. They also visit the hospital to sing at the bedside of those who may be seriously ill or dying. The current director is Pam Hooper: 360-525-3487. All are welcome!
The Bellingham Threshold Singers was founded by Linda in 2008, based on the work of the Threshold Choir movement, to train singers to bring comfort through song to individuals at the threshold of life.
Click here for more information about the national Threshold Choir movement. Their web site is a great resource with songs, recordings, articles, and inspiration for the work of this outstanding international organization founded by Kate Munger.
National Standards Board for Therapeutic Musicians. Here you’ll find listings here of the various training programs and other valuable information.
Alive Inside. From the “Alive Inside” website: “. . .A joyous cinematic exploration of music’s capacity to reawaken our souls and uncover the deepest parts of our humanity. Filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett chronicles the astonishing experiences of individuals around the country who have been revitalized through the simple experience of listening to music. His camera reveals the uniquely human connection we find in music and how its healing power can triumph where prescription medication falls short.”
Holding Our Own. From the site: "This powerful yet tender treatment of our final life passage features artist Deidre Scherer, the hospice chorus Hallowell, and Ira Byock, M.D., author of DYING WELL. With its gentle, direct, and celebratory approach toward the end of life, HOLDING OUR OWN can be shared with audiences of all ages."
Singing Us Home: Songs for End of Life. Songbook compiled and edited by Rhea Schnurman. From the Editor’s Notes: “More and more groups and individuals are feeling called to do the deep work of singing at the bedsides of people who are dying. In response, a growing genre of music is emerging to meet this need. Those of us who have experienced singing at bedsides know how our lives have been transformed.”
More Than A Song: Exploring the Healing Art of Music Therapy, by Barbara Dunn. From the author: “Through this book, readers can experience tender and inspirational moments made possible through music. It answers the questions many people have when they first hear about music therapy: “What is it exactly? How does it work?”
Music at the End of Life: Easing the Pain and Preparing the Passage, by Jennifer Hollis. “A practicing music thanatologist provides an insider's history of this remarkable profession, which combines music, medicine, and spirituality to help the terminally ill and their families face the end of life.” (from the site).
On the Breath of Song: The Practice of Bedside Singing for the Dying by Kathy Leo. “Hallowell, founded by Kathy Leo of Vermont, is a hospice choir connected to Brattleboro Area Hospice. Hallowell has served as a model for many other hospice choirs formed as part of this growing movement. Kathy continues to co-lead workshops in the practice of bedside singing for the dying. She also works part time as a care coordinator for Brattleboro Area Hospice. Prior to her work with the dying, Kathy was a midwife and childbirth educator.” (from the site)
Tenderly Rain, and Walking Each Other Home. Click on the link to check availability at the Threshold Choir website.
Hallowell Singers. Hallowell is a chorus of volunteer singers trained to practice the therapeutic art of singing for the dying. Click on this link to hear their songs and visit their website.
More resources will be coming in the weeks and months ahead.