Georgia's Online Cancer Information Center

Therapeutic Music Practitioner Uses Her Voice as an Instrument to Help Patients Relax, Stabilize and Rest

Katreena Mitchell

Katreena: Can you tell readers about your practice?

Johnnie: I am a Live Therapeutic Music Practitioner. I provide therapeutic music at the bedside for mental, physical, and emotional well-being. My colleagues and I have been trained to help patients stabilize and relax which helps release stress. Live therapeutic music can also help with recovery by decreasing pain, lowering blood pressure, stabilizing heart rate, and reducing anxiety. Research shows that music can increase the production of endorphins, which reduces the perception of pain. This is so beneficial for cancer patients.

Katreena: What is the difference between music therapy and live therapeutic music?

Johnnie: The difference between the two is that music therapy is where the experience of the music, including the relationship with the Music Therapist (MT) is the vehicle for needed change. It is a goal-oriented therapy prescribed by a physician to achieve specific outcomes. There are numerous approaches in utilizing different therapeutic models, including psychotherapy, behaviorism, neurological intervention and community performance. The MT may conduct sessions with multiple patients, use recorded music, or have patients play, sing, or compose music with the MT. Also, the MT helps patients regain lost function (due to trauma or illness) or help them process emotions by engaging with them as they play or listen to music they might request. MTs must complete a four-year bachelor’s degree program and be Board Certified in the state(s) where they practice.

On the other hand, live therapeutic music (LTM) is an art form based on the science of sound and is a complementary, non-pharmacologic intervention. The live therapeutic music practitioner (LTMP) is the instrument or vessel who uses the intrinsic healing elements of acoustic music as the agent to impact a patient’s symptoms or condition to create a peaceful environment that is conducive for healing and rest. The LTMP provides live music in the moment. We do not interact directly with the patient. Based on the patient’s conditions and vital signs, we select and modify music to soothe immediate needs. As a result, music improves the patient’s autonomic nervous system, which stabilizes the body to help generate the healing process. (credit: StringsofMercy.com.)

 

Katreena: Where is live therapeutic music typically done?

Johnnie: Therapeutic musicians typically provide music at the bedside of their patients. This is done in healthcare environments such as a hospital, health facility, hospice or senior health center. I mostly work with breast cancer patients and caregivers, but I am currently working with heart health patients, too.

 

Katreena: How does music help the body heal?

Johnnie: Sound affects brain waves and motor responses. The rhythm of music is a non-invasive way to help boost our energy, and/or relax, and to find our center. It is nourishment to our nervous system and helps stabilize it. When a part of the body is vibrating out of harmony, it creates dis-ease in the body. Yet, the vibrational sound of music can recharge the energy of failing cells, restoring the body back to harmony. Closely related to our heartbeat, the vibrations of music help to connect with it, which can be helpful for reducing anxiety. Music also has the ability to help us release and let go of negative feelings and emotions, creating a space for healing to take place. According to Dr. Frances le Roux, music has the power “to open up the higher spiritual and creative powers, which creates health in the mind, body, and spirit.” 

 

Katreena: Specifically, how does live therapeutic music help with cancer?

Johnnie: Yes. For cancer patients, music is tailored based on the stage that the patient is in. Vital signs and overall level of comfort are taken into consideration when determining what’s best for the individual. Live therapeutic music practitioners are able to adjust the music, tone, pitches, etc. to meet what will help the patient in that very moment. Listening to soothing music can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which has a positive effect on the body’s immune system. Nurses can guide and help with the facilitation of the live therapeutic music session by informing the practitioner (within the guidelines of the HIPAA Law) of the patient’s condition.

 

Katreena: How can this be a beneficial to survivors after treatment?

Johnnie: Most people have a relationship with music, but simply don’t realize that music is a healing form. Knowing this information, survivors can create something based on what they remember music did for them. I tell survivors to think of music that brought them joy and incorporate that into their lives. This is a wonderful way to help them find moments of peace and comfort throughout the day.

Here’s an example of how music can impact a morning: Think of a survivor struggling with neuropathy. In the morning, maybe the only thing that can satisfy her is to reach over and turn the radio on. By turning on the radio, she knows that music changes the atmosphere. Once it’s on – she doesn’t have to concentrate on the pain. Her pain can begin to absorb the vibrations of the music and the lyrics. This moment can help a patient center herself, meditate and think of something other than pain. Time flies and medication may not be needed.

A similar regimen can be used at bedtime to wind down for a healthy night’s sleep. A survivor could set an alarm for a certain kind of music to come on an hour before bed to help them prepare for a peaceful rest. Perhaps a combination of music and a nice warm bath, stretching, or yoga; or a hot cup of tea such as chamomile. Aromatherapy can also help with relaxation. The calming scents of lavender, valerian, orange, roman chamomile, and Ylang Ylang can be found in oils, sprays, and diffusers. Add a few drops to your bath or shower. Spray your pillow or put a dab (diluted) on the bottom of your feet or wrist. Any of these combined with relaxing music are beneficial to a good night’s sleep and therefore, healing.

 

Katreena: How can readers find someone like you in their area?

Johnnie: In addition to speaking with a nurse, you can find a list of Certified Music Practitioners by visiting: https://www.mhtp.org/find-a-certified-music-practitioner-cmp

 

Katreena: Any last words for our readers?

Johnnie: I want to encourage everyone to know that you are loved and valued; never quit, or give up. Stay in the fight no matter what you are going through. We are always greater than the moment we are experiencing.

 

Johnnie Proby and Georgia CORE have created mini playlists for common needs among survivors. Click the topic below to listen to the playlist.

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Johnnie Proby is a highly trained and skilled Live Therapeutic Music Practitioner who uses her voice as an instrument to help patients relax, stabilize and rest. Johnnie currently is working to complete her certification in Live Therapeutic Music through the Music for Healing and Transition Program in Millbrook, New York.

A woman of tremendous faith and service, Johnnie hopes to one day develop a world-wide music ministry that allows her to be a God-ordained instrument of peace spreading love, joy and healing through her knowledge and gifting of music. Johnnie works as a public health analyst for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and resides in Villa Rica, Georgia with her husband, Lee, to whom she has been married for more than 29 years.

You can hear Johnnie’s music on Babbie Mason Radio at babbiemasonradio.com, Amazon, YouTube, SoundCloud, Apple Music, and Spotify. She has an album entitled “Life is Now, She’s A Pearl.”

To learn more about Johnnie’s Live Therapeutic Music services, please visit www.lifeisnowmusicservices.com, call 678-525-7835, or email johnnieproby@gmail.com. Please submit performance requests at www.johnnieproby.com/contact.

Disclaimer: These music suggestions do not promise any type of cure. However, research shows that music can provide an atmosphere that is conducive for healing, rest, and relaxation.

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Georgia CORE is a public-private partnership that creates collaboration among the state’s cancer organizations and institutions to connect more Georgians to quality, personalized cancer care. We welcome you to this one-of-a-kind online information center for all things related to cancer and survivorship care in Georgia.