Music Therapy: Elsie's Story

07 January 2020


*names have been changed to protect anonymity*

Elsie is a wonderful, friendly lady. However, she can be very restless and often paces the corridors thinking she has somewhere else to be. Elsie struggles to be in the moment and her poor short-term memory makes it difficult to process what is happening around her, leading to agitated and anxious behaviour.

Music therapy is able to reduce these behaviours by offering the opportunity to delve into the unfamiliar within a safe environment. In the video below, Elsie initiates improvisation on the piano, playing music she has never played before. Instead of feeling like she is losing herself, Elsie is empowered to initiate her own music and celebrate her creative abilities.

As Elsie reacts instantly to changes, it is clear she is processing the music. In return, Music Therapist, Aisling responds to Elsie’s music to ensure she is being listened to, reinforcing her sense of achievement.



As the music therapy sessions have continued, Elsie has grown in confidence and now sings during improvisations. Singing is very similar to having a conversation, taking turns and responding to the person you’re with. During her music therapy sessions, Elsie is able to find the right words and is held within the flow of music, continuing musical conversations for a significant amount of time.



Songs can provide a sense of familiarity through structure, repetition and predictable melodies. This has been valuable to Elsie has it helps calm her restless behaviour. She has been able to recognise the song, singing along with the melody and engaging in improvisation and laughter throughout. As the song comes to an end, Elsie turns to Music Therapist, Aisling, saying “lovely, lovely, lovely” acknowledging the music they co-created.


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