Musical care at the end of life: palliative care perspectives and emerging practices

Giorgos Tsiris, Jo Hockley, Tamsin Dives

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract / Description of output

Music has been integral to the way that people have cared for the dying and for those around them throughout human history. Today, musical care at the end of life involves a spectrum of diverse music practices, experiences and contexts. These range from people’s everyday engagement with music, to professional music interventions by professionals within specialised contexts. In all cases, music emerges as a resource for people and communities as they copy with change, loss, grief in life. Musical care can offer a sense of wellbeing and promote quality of life for the dying person, their family and their wider community. Informed by developments in the field of palliative care, this chapter explores the different facets of musical care and documents contemporary practices with specific reference to adult end-of-life care. Musical care practices are discussed along two intersecting continuums of care ranging from everyday to specialist, and from public to private. These continuums provide a conceptual framework within which four main areas of musical care at the end of life are explored: music therapy as a distinct professional field of practice with an expanding research base and interdisciplinary approaches; music in death education and health promotion; live music performance and its role in end-of-life care; musical care by non-music professionals. Through a critical engagement with existing knowledge in the field, and while drawing from the authors’ respective music therapy and nursing experiences, the chapter highlights how music can generate a space where the unknowns, tensions and resolutions of living and dying can be embraced, expressed and celebrated. The chapter points to future directions, including methodological advancements, of musical care at the end of life having interdisciplinary collaboration at its heart.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCollaborative Insights
EditorsNeta Spiro, Katie Rose Sanfilippo
PublisherOxford University Press
ChapterChapter 6
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9780197535028
Publication statusPublished - 16 Aug 2022


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