LEWISTON — The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing at Central Maine Medical Center has announced the addition of music therapy to its wellness services for cancer patients and caregivers.

Kate Beever, a 24-year-old Cornish resident pursuing her master’s degree in music therapy at New York University, will volunteer her talents throughout the summer.

The growing popularity of music therapy stems from its contribution to patient quality of life. Among other benefits, it has been shown to manage stress, improve communication, alleviate pain and counteract depression.

Patients do not need any musical ability to benefit, but are welcome to participate on any level. Some prefer to have Beever sing and play her guitar in the doorway of their room while others invite her in and eagerly sing along.

Those looking for a more interactive approach are invited to play maracas or an ocean drum, which simulates ocean sounds by rolling hundreds of tiny beads across the bottom of a drum. Some of the lesser known methods of music therapy include songwriting, vocal toning, music education, lyric discussion and breathing exercises.

After graduation, Beever hopes to find full-time employment in a hospital, preferably working with oncology patients.

“Cancer patients don’t get to make a lot of choices about what’s happening to them,” she said. “Music can be familiar and you can really make a connection. The patients can choose whether they want music or not, or if they want to sing or participate.”

Recently, Beever performed for a patient who had been withdrawn and non-verbal. Following Beever’s rendition of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World,” the patient became emotional and said, “beautiful.” Beever then played an ocean drum which lulled the patient to sleep.

Beever will bring music therapy to CMMC from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays. She will primarily work bedside with oncology patients and will also be available on an outpatient basis. Under her direction, a three-week drumming group and two-week music therapy workshop will be available through the Dempsey Center. For more information, visit www.dempseycenter.org.

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