Meet Joanne Does, Certified Music Practitioner

by Bev Foster

There are multiple manifestations of music care practice.  Meet Joanne Does, whose personal story of caring for her mother with Alzheimer’s disease began a journey towards becoming a bedside musician. Here is her story. My name is Joanne Does and I am a musician working in healthcare. I work in various long term care facilities providing recreational music making opportunities to the residents, and also provide music to the social programs for the client’s of the Alzheimer’s Society.  As well, I spend time at Sakura House, a residential hospice in Woodstock, Ontario, as a Certified Music Practitioner providing bedside music.    My experiences in doing this type of work have been totally rewarding and profound, and I consider myself fortunate to be able to work in these areas. I was not always a working musician. For most of my life I worked in the dental field.  In 2001 my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.  What followed was a challenging but also rewarding journey as I searched for ways to help my mother cope with her new reality. My lifelong passion for playing guitar and singing helped me through this. Countless hours of playing for and singing with my mom, the clients of the Alzheimer’s Society, and residents of my mom’s long term care centre in Woodstock demonstrated to me the powerful effect music can have.  It is such an uplifting experience to see residents with Alzheimer’s and related dementia come alive to the sounds of songs and tunes from their past.  It is truly magical. I have now been working in this area for four years. To enhance my skills as a bedside musician, I was trained as a Certified Music Practitioner in a program called Music For Healing and Transitionwww.mhtp.org , in Cleveland, Ohio. This organization teaches musicians how to make their music appropriate for the bedside. Their intent in providing this service is “to provide live therapeutic music, which creates healing environments for the ill and/or dying and all who may benefit. They recognize music as a therapeutic enhancement to the healing process and the life/death transition.” (from the website).   Courses are offered in various locations throughout the U.S. I would urge musicians who are curious to visit the website to learn more.   I thoroughly enjoyed the training, and it made me a better, more sensitive musician.  It prepared me for working as a musician in Long Term Care and Hospice. I am looking forward to this year’s Music Care Conference and all it offers;  especially the opportunity to listen to Therese Shroeder Sheker, a Music Thanatologist. To find out more about Joanne Does, visit her online at www.healingsounds.ca .