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Musician and Music Therapist – a complimentary team

Here is a short case study by DIANA.  Diana has recently joined our team…here is her account of a session, a short while after transitioning into one of our long term placements:


During a recent session at a long term care facility, the son of one of my clients was in the common area playing jazz piano for his father.  The other residents gathered in a circle shortly before my session was scheduled to begin.

I noticed how soothing the piano playing was for the clients, and the warm smile on the face of the pianist’s father.  I felt it would be a shame to lose such a positive musical atmosphere that had already developed, so I asked the son if he’d like to continue playing some of the songs I had prepared for the session.  He was very happy to be invited to participate.

The pianist was quite skilled and sensitive, following my vocal-phrasing as I stopped in front of each client and sang at a tempo which seemed to connect with each individual.

For a couple of songs, I stood by the piano while making eye contact with the clients as if dedicating the song to them. Midway through the session, I played a couple of guitar pieces to explore different tone qualities.

One client was thrilled and exclaimed: She is “Mary”! (A pseudonym for the name of their last music therapist). A notable observation was that this same client was very resistant to the pianist before the session began. He stated ‘This pianist is a showoff” and added that music time with “Mary” was more enjoyable because everyone was able to participate, making the encounter more meaningful. By the end of the session, he was more receptive to the pianist.

This situation made me reflect upon how differently performance-musicians and music therapists could be perceived by our clients, even though we are both creating music. It reminded me how important it is to engage and connect musically with the clients to create a meaningful experience.

After the session, some clients expressed their joy of being part of this musical moment. I heard comments like “Why is it over?”, “I love music”, “I was a singer but now my voice is fading away; today I had the opportunity to use my singing voice”.

I feel lucky to be working as a music therapist. It is a job where I share my musicality with a variety of people from different backgrounds, and where, from time to time, I am inspired by special moments like the one I described above.


  • Moments like these are so special! Thanks for sharing~ I love it when musicians come into my sessions to jam, too. Sounds like you’re very skilled at creating a comfortably-sized space for whatever anyone brings to the experience: residents, family members, musicians, you. Beautiful.

    Very well written, too!

  • I am sure all your clients or patients will benefit from your therapies and inspired by your musicality. You are very talented and you care a lot about others.

  • Hi Diana…My name is Kevin Brennan. This is kind of interesting to me…I’ve always though about the connection between music and therapy..resulting in musical therapy lol. I myself have been an observant person my whole life, and noticed, no matter who the person is or what age..when they put on or hear music they enjoy people tend to sit and reflect a little more. especially when music is played with a message. I don’t know if you remember me or not, but we have had a few long convo’s over the PC about many things….and it was funny to me because I was reading some articles on psycology and I came across this website. And I saw you, from what I remeber of you… you will be triumphant at what your doing..Because there’s not much more honerable than helping children in anyway and you have a great attitude towards life. God Bless and be safe.

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