Jamie’s Story

When I first met Jamie he was a cancer patient receiving respite care at Earl Mountbatten Hospice. 

Jamie was a former professional musician – an electric accordionist and singer – who had entertained in bars and nightclubs. Sadly Jamie had not been able to play music for some time due to his deteriorating health. So when he learnt that there was a music therapist on the ward, he asked his son to bring in his music equipment, which had lain untouched for years.  

Music therapy came into Jamie’s life when he needed it most. We had the pleasure of enjoying several sessions together over three months, both in the hospice and in the weeks following Jaime’s discharge home, when he would attend the day centre once a week.   

He relished in being able to participate in music once again and importantly, to do that with another person. But he found that he could not manage the accordion any more because of its weight – so together we found other ways of making music. 

In one particular session Jaime’s friends were paying him a visit – I will always remember that session because in it, music therapy offered Jamie a very special shared experience with his close friends, at a time when ‘normal’ socialising would have been so difficult.    

We sang through some songs, some initiated by Jaime, some suggested by me. Jamie took to the drum, playing sporadically to start, but then spontaneously burst into song – a deep, soulful old American tune from the South. He sang with meaning and purpose.  

Jamie once said “I just fell in love with music. It is my life – it’s my memories, it’s the people I bumped into along the way. It’s everything that had gone on around me. Music is the quick link back into my soul.” 

This couldn’t be more apparent in our sessions. Jamie was a cheerful man, always cracking a joke, but in music therapy he seemed to reach an authentic depth of feeling – the songs he chose involved themes of longing for past times, reflection, and now a focus on his approaching death.  

In many ways it was helping him come to terms with the journey he was on. Jamie passed away three months after we met, but I feel privileged to have been able to join him on his journey for that short time, because in that time he found his way back to music.  

 

Fraser Simpson, Nordoff Robbins Music Therapist