Rebecca Strauss, violist and Certified Music Practitioner
I am a Certified Music Practitioner who performs live acoustic therapeutic music sessions for patients at the bedside, creating a healing environment for those who are ill or dying. I adapt the music to the needs of the patient in the moment, inviting the relaxation response
I have performed therapeutic music sessions at the VA Hospital in Brockton, Massachusetts, specifically in the hospice, long-term dementia, rehab, and spinal cord injury units. I currently work in the ventilator unit and long-term rehab units at the Lemuel Shattuck Hospital in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.
Virtual sessions via FaceTime, Zoom, or other video conferencing platforms are also available for those recovering from illness, injury, or trauma, or for anyone else in need of comfort.
Who can benefit from a therapeutic music session?
Everyone in earshot! The focus is specifically for patients, especially people suffering from anxiety, sleep loss, depression, or the effects of long-term illness as well as for those in the ICU or hospice. Happily, there are residual benefits for anybody nearby, including caretakers and family members.
What are the effects of the music?
With the expert guidance of a Certified Music Practitioner (CMP), music may decrease pain, lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, stabilize heart rate, and more.
How long does a therapeutic session last?
The length varies based on the needs of the patient. Sometimes a session only lasts five minutes and other times as long as sixty. The average length is between 20-30 minutes.
How is the repertoire chosen?
There is no set repertoire. Instead, music is selected in the moment to adapt to the condition and needs of the patient. Music is sometimes chosen to provide calm and encourage sleep. Other times the repertoire is more robust and engaging in order to provide focus or lift a patient's mood and energy.
A session may include classical, folk, popular standards, improv, and more.
What does the patient/client need to do?
No speaking or interaction is needed on the part of the patient/client unless she/he chooses.
Are sessions in-person or virtual?
Sessions can be in-person or virtual. In either case, it's essential that the practitioner be able to see the patient in order to observe and adapt the music to the patient's condition, mood, and state.
From a patient with Parkinson's Disease:
"Before the music session I was lonely, but now I feel upbeat.”
What Patients are Saying!
Therapeutic music session for patients in hospice:
“I want to thank you again for all your beautiful playing and your lovely presence at Sylvia’s side when she left us. You were the angel that called to her and enabled her to leave us in perfect peace. And your playing at her funeral, and again your lovely demeanor, gave dignity and honor to the whole event. Rebecca, you gave Sylvia and all those who loved her, a precious gift. We will always be grateful to you." —Susan F.
“Many, many thanks for so generously sharing your time and your talent to play soothing music for my mother (and for her 104-year-old best friend) this afternoon. All the music you selected and played was not only soothing, but beautiful. You gave a great gift to two very frail, very elderly, and very ill ladies." —Will A.
Patient in long-term rehab:
"Upon my entering the room the patient stated: 'Oh, heaven is here. I'm in heaven.' After the therapeutic music session the patient said: 'I've never had a concert like this. What a great day this is. Your music took away all the bullshit. I’m going to call you Doctor Viola!'"
Patient in long-term care ventilator unit:
“I count the days until you come. I threw you a big hug, did you catch it?"
Patient with dementia:
“Beautiful! I feel like a million bucks!"
Patient in long-term care ventilator unit:
“Rebecca, that sounds nice. You know, when you are here it changes everything on the unit; everyone stops to listen. I just want you to know that the music is very therapeutic.”
Patient in long-term care:
"This is one of the last pleasures I have left. Thank you so much for playing music for me.”
Virtual session for client with insomnia:
"I really think the quality of my sleep was different. After the session, I fell right asleep and woke up with a different, smoothed feeling. I loved that you were playing live. It was such a gift. I felt the music directly reach me and got involved in the unknown melody lines, and their repeating, and the quality of your playing—it was indeed soothing.
Simply put, it works!"