Ronn, 81, has a passion for music. He came from a musical family that gathered every Saturday night to play bluegrass and country tunes together. Ronn learned violin, banjo, guitar and mandolin, and continued to perform and play as an adult. As a Navy pilot in the 60’s, he started a string band with his shipmates on an aircraft carrier. “We played all over the world,” he said with a smile. Throughout his years of raising two sons with Carolyn, his wife of 50 years, and enjoying a successful career as a mechanical engineer and inventor, Ronn’s passion for music never wavered.
However, as his chronic pulmonary disease worsened, it became increasingly more difficult for him to play his beloved mandolin. With his ability to play music fading, Ronn felt like he was losing an old friend. Then his social worker Kaitlin asked our music therapist Maggie to pay him a visit.
A classically trained singer who loves to sing and play music with patients, Maggie uses music and the relationship she forms with each hospice patient to address their changing emotional and physical needs. She can play music to reduce anxiety, or to decrease the perception of pain. Once Maggie tuned Ronn’s mandolin, the two musicians instantly bonded. Ronn wanted to play mandolin again, so Maggie suggested songs she knew he could play, while she sang and played along on her ukulele. Although he had some frustrations, Maggie was there with help and support. Finally, Ronn could play music again!
“To have Maggie play and sing with me is such a treat,” said Ronn. “For one wonderful hour, Maggie makes me feel better and gives me a break from my everyday routine. Music is back in my life.” As a bonus, Ronn’s determination to play again inspired his social worker Kaitlin to learn the ukulele. They would even practice together during her visits, with Ronn encouraging Kaitlin and loving the opportunity to “play some strings” with her as well. He still looks forward to his weekly sessions with Maggie, especially when he feels well enough to play mandolin and sing with her. Thanks to the generous support of donors to our Integrative Medicine music therapy program, they are still making beautiful music together.