2011-02-25 / Society

The power of music ...

By Caroline Judson

John Finch plays the dulcimer John Finch plays the dulcimer to integrate and cure. . . is quite fundamental. It is the profoundest nonchemical medication.

— Oliver Sacks, Awakenings

Music awakens hope in many hospital patients. John Finch has the gift of playing the dulcimer with the intentions of producing healing music for hospital patients.

Finch is an intern in the Music for Healing and Transition Program, Inc. (MHTP), a national educational certification program preparing musicians to provide live, therapeutic music at the bedside. It is accredited by the National Standards Board for Musicians ( www.therapeuticmusician.com).

Finch has recently completed his internship at a local hospital and will be certified in a few months after fulfilling all of the requirements. There is no funding provided for the two– year period of study including extensive reading, five week–end workshops, mentorship, music lessons if needed, at least 90 minutes of repertoire to address individual patients’ conditions, and an internship including both hospital and non–hospital facilities.

Patients who wish to be a part of the program are selected by the head nurse of each ward. Interns then visit the patient’s room and play or sing quietly for 15 to 25 minutes the songs that appeal to the patient.

While teaching the dulcimer at the Shepherd’s Center of Columbia, a national educational program for seniors, Finch realized he wanted to expand his musical skills and decided to enter the MHTP.

Finch hopes in the future to learn different musical instruments such as the autoharp. He also will be seeking employment when he finishes the program rather than continuing to volunteer.

For more information about MHTP, visit www.mhtp.org.

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