“Waiting for the Call” – Chuck’s Story

*In accordance with HIPAA, and out of respect for our client’s privacy, the name “Chuck” will be used as an alias throughout this blog post.
Photo and Video are used with permission from “Chuck” and his daughter.*

The word “hospice” often carries with it a heavy weight, evoking thoughts of death and the unknown. And while it is true that hospice care is provided in the final stages of life, hospice is a philosophy that strives to provide comfort, peace, and improved quality of life. In this context, Music Therapy can offer a safe, non-threatening medium for coping and self-expression, can alleviate pain, can provide valuable (and fun!) social opportunities, and can elicit cherished memories of the past, even while creating fond new memories. At Metro Music Therapy, we are honored to partner with Wellspring International for the Songs of Hope project, providing Hospice Music Therapy services (among other services) to our clients in the Atlanta area.

And after hearing a song like Chuck’s, I realize the name “Songs of Hope” couldn’t be more fitting!

As a Music Therapist, it’s always a joy getting to work with a client who shares a passion for music. When I first met Chuck and saw his impressive array of instruments – including guitar, mandolin, and bass guitar – I knew we were in for a fun time! Chuck has lived an especially musical life, traveling the country with a bluegrass gospel band. As we began talking, Chuck told me with excitement about the many large “Gospel Singings” that he’s helped to lead in his travels. In one session, Chuck stated, “It would be my pride and joy to lead one more big singing!” So that’s exactly what we did!

Over several weeks, we put together a set-list of some of Chuck’s favorite gospel tunes and hymns, creating songbooks for guests to sing along with, and practicing with one of Chuck’s friends (another talented musician who joined our group to play piano at the big event). In the course of all this, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing firsthand the faith, joy, and optimism that Chuck brings to everyone around him, and the peace to which he has already come regarding his current stage of life. For example, each time we sing “I’ll Fly Away”, Chuck insists that we change the lyrics of the final verse to “Just a few more happy [rather than “weary”] days, and then I’ll fly away.” More humbling still is Chuck’s goal for the event: “I want to share the message of these songs with as many people as want to come. That’s the best part.”

The final song on our set-list is my favorite, and one of Chuck’s very own composition – a song that he introduced to me on the first day we met! And goodness, is it catchy!
Take a listen below, and I guarantee you’ll be humming along.


“Waiting For the Call” became the anthem of our “Gospel Jubilee” event in the atrium of Chuck’s residential facility. It was such a powerful – and flat-out fun – moment, seeing Chuck stand before other residents, staff, friends, and family to lead us all in this uplifting tune! To hear Chuck sing with a smile on his face, “By faith I’m looking upward, just waiting for the call,” is a testament to his deep faith, and his peaceful expectation of what’s to come. It puts into words the joy that he carries with him, and that he gladly shares with others.
It is, without a doubt, a Song of Hope.

2017-11-17T17:09:44+00:00November 17th, 2017|Blog, Hospice Music Therapy, Music Therapy|

Another Year of Amazing …

songs of hope image2I will never forget the day this summer …

… that I received a phone call from the mother of a 13-year-old who had a terminal diagnosis. “I know that music therapy is effective for my child, but we cannot afford services on top of all of the medical bills. Is there a way that you can help?”

Because of our partnership with Wellspring International, my answer was, “Yes, we can help. We will have a music therapist come out to your home this week and begin services at no cost to you and your family.”

We received word last Friday that our grant-funded music therapy program, Songs of Hope, will be funded for the next fiscal year by Wellspring International (October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2017).

What does this mean for Atlanta?

It means that hospice patients and their families, bereaved children, and refugees that are currently residing in Atlanta, will all have access to music therapy services at absolutely no cost to them.

It means that patients and their families can be supported during their darkest and most difficult times. It means that children can begin their healing process and have a supportive presence throughout their grief and loss journey. It means that refugees of all ages and from all over the world can receive support during some of life’s hardest transitions.

How has Songs of Hope already made in impact in Atlanta?

One of our partner hospice companies, Ark Hospice, says this of the Songs of Hope Music Therapy Program:

Our Ark Hospice team is truly so thankful for the services that MMT has provided to our patients and families. We have seen how their calming presence and therapeutic sessions have improved our patients’ lives. They’ve helped our patients with pain management, encouraged healthy coping skills, improved their quality of life and have facilitated emotional expression, reminiscence, and life review.

They also served many of our patients individually, and one particular patient struggled through a period of depression related to feeling purposeless in life. As Sam continued to meet with her and connect through music, he was able to help restore some confidence in her spiritual purpose and was able to provide healthy distraction from her anxiety and physical pain. He taught her coping skills that she was able to use when our team was not there to provide reassurance. She always talked about how much she enjoyed his visits and how she felt calmer and more at peace as a result.

Another patient was unable to speak English –  Spanish was her native language. Erin quickly volunteered to provide services to her and was able to play Spanish hymns and folk songs. Though this patient was nonverbal and Erin was only able to provide a few sessions before she was off of hospice services, her family was extremely appreciative and truly believed that her quality of life was greatly improved during her final weeks of life. They even asked Erin to play for her Memorial Service.

I know that these brief stories cannot adequately capture all that MMT had done, but I hope that they provide a snapshot of how music therapy has impacted our hospice patients throughout their end-of-life journeys. Thank you again for all that you do at Metro Music Therapy!

Elizabeth in session_edited-1

We are honored, humbled, and thrilled to be able to continue our partnership with Wellspring International in order to make a positive impact in the lives and hearts of the people of Atlanta.



2016-12-03T04:33:09+00:00September 1st, 2016|Grief & Loss, Hospice Music Therapy, MT in Healthcare, news|

Thank you, Dr. Sacks

Written by Kally Ramminger, LPMT, MT-BC

I’ve watched the music therapy community mourn the death of Dr. Oliver Sacks over the past week. His legacy will live on forever, as he has helped so many people throughout the years understand the power that music has on one’s brain. Equally important, he also taught us the importance of preserving the humanity of every human being, regardless of their situation or diagnosis.

I’ve pulled together some of the most poignant words from Dr. Sacks (in my opinion), that have helped guide my understanding and role as a music therapist. Thank you, Dr. Oliver Sacks for your incredibly valuable contribution to this world.

You remind us that music is vital, essential to life.

Music can lift us out of depression or move us to tears – it is a remedy, a tonic, orange juice for the ear. But for many of my neurological patients, music is even more – it can provide access, even when no medication can, to movement, to speech, to life. For them, music is not a luxury, but a necessity.”

You remind us to look beyond the diagnosis of an individual.

In examining disease, we gain wisdom about anatomy and physiology and biology. In examining the person with disease, we gain wisdom about life.”

You remind us that our brain is fascinating organ and a never-ending exploration of knowledge.

It really is a very odd business that all of us, to varying degrees, have music in our heads.”

You remind us the power of death and the privilege we have as music therapists to be a part of the dying process.

When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.”

You remind us that no two people, diagnoses, or experiences are ever the same.

Individuality is deeply imbued in us from the very start, at the neuronal level. Even at a motor level, researchers have shown, an infant does not follow a set pattern of learning to walk or how to reach for something. Each baby experiments with different ways of reaching for objects and over the course of several months discovers or selects his own motor solutions. When we try to envisage the neural basis of such individual learning, we might imagine a “population” of movements (and their neural correlates) being strengthened or pruned away by experience.

Similar considerations arise with regard to recover and rehabilitation after strokes and other injuries. There are no rules; there is no prescribed path of recovery; every patient must discover or create his own motor and perceptual patterns, his own solutions to the challenges that face him; and it is the function of a sensitive therapist to help him in this.

And in its broadest sense, neural Darwinism implies that we are destined, whether we wish it or not, to a life of particularity and self-development, to make our own individual paths through life.”


{All of the above quotes were direct words from Dr. Oliver Sacks.}

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