Music therapy in hospice is unique in that it can draw from the patient’s culture, religious beliefs, and cherished memories to create a healing experience that is deeply personal and meaningful. It promotes an environment of healing and emotional restoration that are precisely in tune with a patient’s specific needs. While all hospice music therapy programs will have some degree of variance between them, most music therapy sessions in the end-of-life setting incorporate many of the following therapeutic exercises and techniques:
Songwriting can inspire deep thought and reflection about important life relationships and experiences. These practices can open up the door to healing longstanding emotional wounds between the patient, friends, and family.
Lyric discussion and analysis encourages stimulating conversation and can lead to patients’ introspection and reflections on life, relationships, and their legacy.
Moving to music promotes physical activity and movement that otherwise may not occur for patients.
Singing promotes social togetherness as patients, therapists, family members, and caregivers enjoy the lyrics and tune of the music together.

EMOTIONAL, SPIRITUAL, & SOCIAL BENEFITS of Music Therapy in Hospice Settings
Music has the ability to cross over race, creed, and culture and impact humans at a deeply spiritual level. By employing these inherent characteristics of music, hospice music therapy touches emotional, spiritual, and social needs. It also promotes the following:
Heightened self-confidence
As people interact with the music therapist, learn new musical skills, and potentially regain lost motor skills, their outlook on themselves greatly improves. Positive self-image and dramatically improves overall well-being and promotes a more positive outlook on the end-of-life journey.
Increased social interaction
Music allows for patients to form bonds with those who share their love for a specific classic tune, timeless artist, or style of music. These social interactions, made easier by connecting through the shared interest of music, allow patients who may not commonly seek to interact socially to seek interaction and friendships with others.
Introspection and life review
Music provides patients with a safe space to explore their emotions, reflect on their lives, and look toward the road ahead on the end-of-life journey. During these moments of self-reflection, patients begin the spiritual healing process, allowing old spiritual wounds to heal, and encouraging the rebuilding and healing of relationships with family, friends, and loved ones.

PHYSICAL BENEFITS of Music Therapy in Hospice Settings
While music can be an impactful tool in emotional, spiritual, and social healing, music therapy also provides numerous physical benefits. For hospice patients dealing with pain music therapy provides:
Improved relaxation
Music therapy is a powerful tool in aiding relaxation. Music, when paired with relaxation exercises, is shown to promote a deeper level of restorative relaxation than the exercises alone. Skilled music therapists, over time, can hone in on the types of music that the patient best responds to and can create the best environment for maximum relaxation.
Enhanced communication and speech abilities
Speech and singing share many of the same oral motor skills such as breath control, vocal intensity, and articulation. Music therapy sessions that involve singing can help patients strengthen motor skills that may have been damaged due to their illness.
Improved motor coordination
Instruments help promote precise physical motion, such as the plucking of strings on a guitar, or the positioning of fingers on a piano’s keys. These precise physical actions, over time, can help patients regain lost muscular control and increase hand-eye coordination.

Music is accessible to everyone and provides a safe, non-verbal means of communication and emotional expression. The environment that music provides helps promote understanding, healing, and growth in the lives of those who are grieving. In a bereavement setting, music therapy helps families and surviving loved ones by:
Understanding and finding meaning in grief
In the safe environment that music provides, the pain, sadness, and other emotional states can be explored and expressed without fear of judgement. Through therapeutic exercises such as listening to music and analyzing lyrics, music therapy can help surviving family members understand and communicate the emotions they experience along the grief recovery journey.
Honoring the life and memory of the deceased
Music is an artform that has long been used in the practice of memorializing a deceased loved one and bringing honor to their legacy. By engaging in therapeutic songwriting, music therapists can help families process their grief and create a personal and meaningful tribute to a late loved one.
Music therapy is a complex, personal, and deeply spiritual practice that brings aid to all who are on the end-of-life journey. It is a tool that embraces culture, memories, and spirituality to create a restorative experience that is uniquely therapeutic to each person. By employing the restorative nature of music, music therapy allows hospice patients, families, caregivers, and the bereaved to enjoy physical relaxation, mend emotional wounds, and recharge spiritually.