Music Therapy “Miracle” Moment
21 Nov 14
By Christine Dibble, MMT, MTA
I was working with a geriatric client for almost two years when I encountered a true “music therapy miracle” as I like to call them. It was one of those “a-HA!” moments that really reinforce the purpose of music therapy. This client had not made any observable responses to music in the entirety of our sessions. They had experienced a stroke a number of years previous and appeared to be extremely limited in terms of receptive and expressive communication and language skills. It was not certain how much of the world this person was perceiving and how much was being understood.
During our second year at Christmas time, a true Christmas music therapy miracle occurred. This client SANG. They sang!!!!! They sang an entire line of The First Noel, in perfect pitch, in perfect rhythm, and in perfectly clear understandable words. I could not believe my ears – had this person really just sung? Yes, in fact they had. After two years of coming to music therapy, they sang. One line.
In the following two years of therapy, that moment was never repeated. It begs many questions: “What were they thinking in that moment? What was it about that particular day, and that particular song that reached that person?” We had two more Christmases together, and I hoped for a similar reaction to the same carol. I was hoping to connect to them again, to facilitate a moment of self-expression. They remained silent, but I remain ever wondering about the mysteries and complexities of the powers of music and the human mind.