Before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down much of our world, I had only ever provided music therapy services for patients in-person. I will admit that I was very nervous about trying to provide music therapy via Zoom when we first made the transition. I was very lucky and pleasantly surprised to learn just how effective music therapy can still be via Zoom for some of our patients in long-term care facilities.
I initially received a music therapy referral for “Mr. Z” to address his depression related to his loss of physical functioning because of his terminal diagnosis. I contacted the social worker at his long-term care facility, and she was more than happy to help set up weekly virtual visits. Each week I would send her a link for our session, and she would bring her laptop into his room and start the meeting. Mr. Z would engage in conversation about his preferred music and I would play it with my guitar and sing. As I played his favorite songs, Mr. Z often closed his eyes and appeared visibly relaxed as he listened, sometimes he would even sing along. By the end of our sessions, Mr. Z was usually smiling and would express his gratitude for the music that week. Team members would also tell me about the comments he made to them about his gratitude for music therapy. Eventually, Mr. Z appeared to be doing so well that he was able to “graduate” from hospice care. We had our final session on the day of his discharge, and he had the widest smile on his face when I began to sing the melody of the Pomp and Circumstance. Our goodbye was bittersweet, but I am so grateful for our time together. Mr. Z has turned me into a true believer of the power of telemedicine.