Raymond Leone, MMT, MT-BC is a Board-Certified music therapist and the head of A Place To Be’s Medical Music Therapy Program. He, along with four other music therapists and our interns visit thousands of patients each year at Inova. They witness the positive impact of music therapy on critically ill patients every day.
Last year, Ray met a 60-year-old woman in the oncology unit. She was weary from her many hospital stays, including a tough journey through intensive chemotherapy and radiation treatment. She was now back in the hospital dealing with breathing issues. “She confided in me, that she sometimes feels that her illness is never ending, and that she was starting to feel burdensome to her family,” Ray said.
After listening to her story, they spoke about music. Ray learned that the woman loved to sing and listen to folk and country music from the 60s and 70s. “But I don’t feel like singing much these days,” she told him. Ray suggested they put all the “hospital” thoughts aside for a bit and just sing. “And...we sang,” he said. “Joni Mitchell, Peter, Paul and Mary, some John Denver. When she was in the music experience, when she was singing - everything seemed to change. Suddenly she was smiling. Suddenly there was energy in her body. Suddenly she looked...alive.”
After they finished, the woman told Ray, “For so long, I have felt as though I have just been existing. The music, singing, makes me feel like I’m living.”
There are many distresses we can address with music therapy in the hospital including pain management, anxiety, coping with hospital stays, emotional support, comfort and disorientation, but this quote “Music makes me feel like I’m living,” really expresses the core of why music!
“A hospital stay, going though treatment, being hooked up to a ventilator to help with breathing, all of these things take a little bit of our identity, autonomy and self-worth (and our lives) away,” explained Ray. “Music can help bring that back, even in an oncology unit or an ICU. When we feel like we are living, we are more motivated to get better and, well, continue living. Music is healing. Music is motivating. Music is empowering. Music is life.”
in 2018, A Place To Be:
Provided music therapy to more than 2,700 patients at Loudoun, Fair Oaks and Fairfax
Served hospital patients. 90% of whom were new
to music therapy