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Wisdom Witnessed – When Clients Share Important Life Learnings

In the first few years of being a Music Therapist, I quickly grew inspired by the stories, perspectives and wisdom shared by my diverse clientele. Being in the profession allows me to see the power and effect music has on people. I feel honored to be a witness to the triumphs, adversity, resilience and life experience faced by so many in very different ways. As I noticed the impact of each client and perspective, I decided to write them down for the purpose of developing a wider awareness, while adding depth to our sessions together.


“It’s frustrating when you’re thinking of a word and it comes out as something completely different. I notice my words come out better in the music.”

For Amanda, some days can feel completely exhausting, and others are a joyful win. She fails. She adapts. She perseveres. Amanda has lived a good life. She has shared details of the many beautiful moments she experiences within nature. Nature surrounded the home she grew up in as well as the home she created with her husband and kids. As a family, they enjoyed being around nature on the various trips they went on together. Nature is something she feels grounded in.

It’s in the exquisite and most detailed artwork she has painted over the years that now hang on her apartment walls. It is also in her music. In fact, one of her favorite John Denver songs is “Country Roads” which speaks wholeheartedly of the intricate details that lie in nature. Amanda’s perseverance, love for nature, music and family has taught me never to lose sight of what’s most important, especially the most minuscule that can be easily taken for granted.


“Hey gorgeous, I love you cause you’re beautiful.”

“See ya later alligator”

“You’re looking so nice today”

Evelyn repeats the same phrases every time we meet. There is never a dull moment with her. There has also never been a moment she didn’t know the words to a song. Even in the face of adversity, every encounter with Evelyn remains positive. She has taught me the value of humor in the context of resilience.


“Humor makes everything better. I named my legs bump and stump cause that’s what they look like. My mom and I made shirts for it”

Chris has also taught me to see the same value from Evelyn’s story, however in a completely different way – in their circumstances and ages.


“Most of my life is over. I only really live for the good memories now.”

I’ve gotten to know Dave for a while now. He requires a high level of physical care. He also requires space and time for his responses to questions. Although his memory and independence continue to decline, it’s amazing to witness his knowledge and insight remain quite intact. He continues to share a philosophical and detailed overview of what he thinks about a song. He has validated the notion that having a great deal of knowledge can be a powerful tool for staying sane.


“This will be my first time I’ve seen him in years due to a falling out. It’s hard to be here knowing that he is in his final stages of life. I don’t think I can do it.

Jack stood right outside the curtain of the hospital bed of a friend he hasn’t seen in years. For the duration of the song, he refused to step inside. He was way too nervous that he only talked to them through the curtain. However, when the song ended, there must’ve been a wave of confidence, bravery and courage that came over him since he suddenly opened up the curtain to step inside, face his friend and start a conversation. He expressed much gratitude for the song that was sung since it brought him immense comfort.

This was incredible to witness. Sometimes music can be the exact safety net one needs to feel in order to gain confidence, support, motivation and inspiration to complete a task that would be a great challenge on its own and oftentimes never completed. This could’ve easily ended differently. Instead, it ended beautifully. It made me think that life is short. Mending a relationship before it’s too late takes great courage and it could also be empowering and healing.

Adding to my own life

Besides the music, being a Music Therapist requires counseling skills of attending, listening well, being empathetic and practicing curiosity without assumption. So naturally, getting to know your client automatically happens. In other words, it comes with the job. However, to me, it’s more than that. We are all humans naturally seeking out social connections. Getting to know someone may sound like a simple phenomenon, and yet it can also be profound. Each individual I’ve met who has felt comfortable enough to share their story has added deep inspiration to mine and I am forever grateful for every second of it.

Even without being a therapist, we can all lend an ear once in a while and when we do, we start to deepen our knowledge and awareness of so much more in the world around us. I quickly realized one thing as a Music Therapist – my clients are truly my greatest teachers.

*All names have been changed for the protection and privacy of those involved

– by Leah Callao, MTA