Who are you and what is CDAL? What is this group doing and why are we using music to do it?
My name is Lillian Hexter. I’m seventeen years old and I’ve been playing clarinet since the third grade, alto sax since eighth and ukulele since eleventh. I joined CDAL in January of my junior year of high school with little knowledge of what this program really is. Seventh months later I have a much better idea! CDAL brings young musicians like myself together and equips us with the ideas and concepts of using music in our communinities to meet a particular identified need. It is up to us to determine how to do this. My group is made of up five musicians who range in age, musical background and just about everything else. I think this unique blend of people has helped us to think creatively and work off of each other’s ideas.
We volunteer at the AstraZeneca Hope Lodge, a residency for out of town cancer patients who are receiving out-patient treatment in Boston. After meeting with a social worker from Hope Lodge, attending a music therapy event at Berklee and reading a research article about music therapy in adult oncology, I’m finally getting a better idea of why we’re doing what we’re doing. We learned that one of the main challenges of cancer patients is that their worlds are turned completely upside down. Every assumption they once had about the rest of their lives is basically shattered. They are going through not only physical pain and struggle, but also social and emotional. According to the article about music therapy, music therapy has shown “signficant effects of music on anxiety, mood, and comfort during different medical procedures” as well as “quality of life, spirituality, mood, relaxation, energy level, comfort, response to treatment, and pain relief.”
As we know, music is truly a powerful tool in touching people from all walks of life and has a certain ability to heal those who are hurting. Karl Paulnack accurately stated that musicians were “here to become a sort of therapist for the human soul.” That is what I believe we are doing at Hope Lodge. We can’t make the guests’ cancer go away and we can’t completely erase their stress and anxiety about what they’re going through. But we can make the entire experience a little more bearable. The article states that “patients who are in great distress and near the end of life eloquently express how the power of music comforts them and brings them a sense of peace and contentment.” If we can bring this sense of peace and contentment to the guests of Hope Lodge, I think that we can feel satisified with what we’ve accomplished.
I thought the idea of music and imagery was extremely interesting and something that maybe we should consider. I was thinking that maybe we could provide the guests with a paper and pens to record their thoughts about the music and what it made them think about. After, we can try to start a discussion circle for everyone to share.