Music Therapy Hits the Right Note for Gayle

palliative client at home in bed sings as part of music therapy session

Gayle Zachariah loved music and music therapist Cherie Baxter’s visits were one of the highlights of her week along with zooming into her weekly church service from home.

“I lost my joy for a while and God brought me back to it and Cherie is part of the reason I found it again,” Gayle said as she sat up in bed writing a song for her grandson.

“Cherie actually brought me back to being interested and engaged in music again and I’ve been blessed to know her. Just by doing something with her, I can become inspired. She’s been such good therapy for me,” Gayle said.

During Gayle’s weekly sessions, the 76-year-old liked to write her own lyrics and set them to the tunes of familiar hymns which she would then sing and record for her great grandchildren. With Cherie’s help and guitar accompaniment, Gayle texted the audio to the children.

Watching Gayle’s enthusiasm for the session was heart-warming and it was hard to believe she would die the following week.

Music therapy can take many forms depending on the client’s needs and wishes. It can switch off people’s stress and provide an opportunity for fun. It can transport clients and change their state of consciousness from low energy to high energy.

We’ve introduced palliative clients with insomnia to Melbourne Symphony Orchestra pieces specifically arranged and created to induce sleep. Others have enjoyed karaoke, reminisced by listening to favourite musical tunes from the past or strengthened family relationships through a shared musical experience. It’s one of the many ways Palliative Care South East supports people with a life-limiting or terminal illness to live their best lives.

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