I’ve been introduced to Melanie through Twitter, she’s a Classical Pianist, Writer and Survivor of breast cancer!….Yes once again Twitter delivers me a shining example of a woman who just has to be given a voice! So last week, when I was on the verge of picking up my Nordic Walking poles, Melanie and I had a chat and she told me about her passion for using Music with Cancer patients.
Here’s Melanie to tell us more…
Music has incredible power. It has the ability to transport all of us to another place. This place can offer beauty, comfort, safety and above all a distraction from life’s problems. It takes our focus elsewhere and can be a source of pleasure, excitement, happiness and fun too. This is especially true for the cancer patient. They, more than most, need to be nourished, not just physically but spiritually too and music is an obvious choice for empowering them with a sense of well-being.
Complimentary treatments have been a popular addition to mainstream medicine for many years and lots of patients have benefitted from them. I enjoyed a series of reflexology sessions at my cancer centre which were wonderful, so much so that I now have reflexology every month and feel better for it.
Music has not always been an obvious addition to the array of treatments on offer but I believe it is becoming more popular and there is plenty of evidence in favour of its inclusion. Earlier this month an interesting article was published suggesting that music has a very positive effect on cancer patients. Studies such as this are highlighting the benefits of music’s healing powers.
As a classical pianist and cancer survivor, I am only too aware of these intoxicating powers. I am convinced that most cancer patients can benefit enormously from music sessions alongside other alternative treatments. The hospital where I received my radiotherapy and complimentary treatments doesn’t have any kind of music ‘healing’ (many cancer centres still don’t seem to offer this) and it got me thinking; wouldn’t it be great to use music, with all its healing qualities, to provide patients with a satisfying weekly musical experience?
The healing power of music could be unleashed in sessions using music appreciation; taking the patient on a brief journey through music history with plenty of musical sound bites. Introducing live performance (especially using recitations or melodramas, where a story is told accompanied by piano music) and by using visualisation or meditation to music. This is sometimes referred to as guided imagery with music (GIM) and is already very popular in the US. Other healing aids might include group singing allowing mobile patients to have fun together whilst boosting confidence and moral.
It is my hope that by using music in this way we can give cancer patients some respite and help them feel better spiritually and emotionally. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all hospices and cancer centres across the country added this element to their impressive list of complimentary therapies?
Thank you Melanie. I know that Music is wonderful at shifting mood, moving us from one thought or mindset to another. Most of us reading this will know we have used music positively. I also know Music Therapy is available in Cynthia Spencer Hospice, where I volunteer. Thank’s for bringing this wonderful subject up Melanie and we’ll bring you back for any updates!
Melanie has performed at all the major UK concert halls and around the world including concerts in Canada, USA, Bermuda, Spain, Russia, Holland, Denmark, and Sweden. Achievements include two solo recordings, broadcasting on Classic FM, BBC Radio 3, CBC Radio and Swedish and Spanish Television. Highlights include performances for the Queen Mother and Danish Royal family amongst others and she has worked with conductors such as Andrew Constantine and Sir Andrew Davis. Melanie has played for numerous concert societies and universities around the UK and has been fortunate enough to give solo recitals on luxury cruise liners around the world, frequently appearing on Cunard’s legendary QE2 and QM2.
Writing has always been a passion for Melanie and she regularly reviews concerts and writes articles and blogs for various music websites and magazines.
Update for 2013. Melanie’s book is published ‘So you want to play the piano’