Magazine article The Canadian Music Educator

Music Therapy in Medicine Initiative in Windsor Ontario

Magazine article The Canadian Music Educator

Music Therapy in Medicine Initiative in Windsor Ontario

Article excerpt

Project Description and Background

The Partnership "Music Therapy in Medicine Program" has been operating successfully since 2003. It has been designed to help build a foundation for a music therapy program in Windsor oncologie and palliative care units. It has been developed and administered in partnership between the University of Windsor Music Therapy Program (U of W), the Windsor Symphony Orchestra (WSO), and the Windsor Regional Hospital (WRH), and has been graciously offered to patients and families through the ongoing support of the Transition to Betterness (T2B) Program Grant.

The Music Therapy in Medicine Program continues to send Music Therapy Teams comprised of a U of W music therapy student and a WSO musician into oncology and palliative care units, to augment existing treatments and to improve the healing experience. The music therapy students, after completing a practicum course in this program, visit patients and families for a specific period of time, and receive a standard student hourly fee. The WSO musicians are paid on a fee basis, at a rate comparable to their performing rates, for each 2 1/2 hour block of time that they provide their services.

The project is currently administered by me, Assistant Professor and Coordinator of the U of W's Music Therapy Program. I am supported by the WSO Marketing Department for marketing materials and by the WSO librarian for compilation of music that is used. I provide my services for the Program on a pro bono basis. (Professional music therapy fees are $50 per hour; supervisor and administrator fees are $115/ hour). Additional music therapy supervision is provided to the students by the U of W practicum instructor.

The music therapy teams are part of the multidisciplinary health care team, and they interact with the staff in a way that works best for the various locations in which the program takes place. The music therapy teams attend to the prevailing needs and issues of patients and families in sessions. They also strive to improve their quality of life by facilitating communication, enhancing comfort and improving pain and symptom management. The scheduling of music therapy team visits are determined collaboratively by the U of Windsor Music Therapy Program, the WRH Health Care Professionals and the WSO musicians.

The U of W music therapy students, WSO musicians and WRH Health Care Professionals have been trained prior to working on this team, and it has been running smoothly and successfully for eight years. Music therapy students attend ongoing weekly supervisory meetings, i.e. a Music Therapy in Medicine seminar, during which they receive specialized training and have time to discuss music therapy sessions. Such training is essential and helps students provide rich and meaningful experiences to patients and families, experiences that are aimed at enhancing quality of life and personal well-being.

The music therapy teams visit the hospital units for block periods over the course of the entire year, averaging 2 ½ hours per visit, with the length of individual therapy sessions within this block of time determined by patient needs and circumstances. A typical music therapy session is half an hour in length, with visits booked based on the 2 ½ hour "service" for which the WSO musicians are retained.

The music therapy sessions provide opportunities for patients and family members to participate in a variety of music-listening and music-creating experiences with the music therapy teams. U of W music therapy students commonly use their interactions during each session to offer support and also to compose an improvised or original song with the patients and families. U of W music therapy students return for solo sessions to present the completed songs, on a CD recording, to the patients and their families.


The mission of the program and overarching goals are:

1 to enhance wellness, quality of life;

2 to increase access to music therapy;

3 prepare qualified music therapists;

4 to build healthy communities through collaborative community partnerships;

5 to initiate relevant research and education projects that will help further knowledge and promote local and global care

Qualitative Data from the Western Campus 2010

Qualitative data is collected from all the campuses. …

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