Bringing the Sound of Comfort to Hospice Care

I had the opportunity to meet Dean Johnson through some early childhood education classes I attended with my daughter. After talking with him about music, I was intrigued to hear about what he’s up to with music therapy. I asked Dean if he’d be willing to share his experiences. Below, Dean shares on bringing the sound of comfort to hospice care, on how he got involved in Therapeutic Music and how you might get involved if you’re interested.

- Noah Keitel


Bringing the Sound of Comfort to Hospice Care

By: Dean Johnson

Do you enjoy playing for an audience of one? When our family moved in with my Grandma when she needed full-time in-home care, I enjoyed the opportunity it provided me to improvise quiet little songs for her while she rested in bed within earshot of her old upright piano in the dining room. I found it special to have the connection of someone to ‘talk’ directly to through music. She confided in me that she almost felt she knew what notes and melodies I was going to play next. It was a revelation for me in the gentle power of music to communicate feelings.

Fast forward more than a decade to a live demonstration of improvised music played on a classical guitar, by a woman who went through specialized training to become a Therapeutic Musician. Therapeutic Musicians perform live music bedside in clinical settings to help comfort the critically, or terminally ill, and their loved ones. As I did for my Grandma, Therapeutic Musicians use their chosen instrument or voice, and their love of people, to make a real difference in people’s lives, at what often is a most disorienting and stress-filled time for them. I was hooked on the premise and promise of this field, and wanted to learn more. Now, I’m looking forward to getting some training by one not-for-profit organization that is involved nationally in educating musicians in this field.

The Music for Transition and Healing Program, Inc.™ (MTHP), is a national educational

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certification program preparing musicians to provide live, therapeutic music at the bedside. MHTP confers the title Certified Music Practitioner (CMP)® to its graduates. The upcoming Minnesota session will fly in expert trainers from around the United States. Qualified applicants will complete four two-day weekend modules, plus one three-day weekend training module over the course of 9 months. As part of their training, each prospective graduate will also complete an internship, playing a total of 45 hours of live music at bedside in clinical settings. There are currently openings available for qualified applicants, and some scholarship funds will be available to those who start the program. Find out how you can bring the sound of comfort to hospice care and about other Therapeutic Music opportunities at or request local Minnesota program information by email at

Dean Russell Johnson lives in St. Paul, MN with his wife and two children. He is serving as Co-Area Coordinator of the MHTP training to be held in Minneapolis. Dean can be contacted at:

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About the Author:

Noah Keitel, Co-Founder of LessonLogs, has been a musician for over 20 years. Noah has been a music educator and entrepreneur since getting his B.A. in music education from the University of Minnesota Morris. It is time that music educators around the world get state of the art tools to make lesson management easier for teachers and students. Create your free LessonLogs studio today.

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