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Musical Encounters With Dying: Stories and Lessons Paperback – June 28, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-1849059367 ISBN-10: 1849059365 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews


Islene Runningdeer's book is an engaging, thought-provoking, and often insightful read. In eleven chapters she describes her music therapy work in a home-based palliative care team... the key themes of the book... include relationship building, cultural sensitivity, emotional complexity, mental illness, learning disability, and self-care... this is a refreshing, inspiring, and heartfelt book of stories written by a warm, intuitive, charismatic, and skilled musician who has clearly done some exceptional work with the dying... for an insight into how music can be used in palliative care, this is well-worth reading. -- Jane Lings, Music Therapist British Journal of Occupational Therapy This is a book for music therapy students, practitioners and indeed health care staff working within palliative care teams who wish to discover and understand more deeply the rich therapeutic connection between music therapist and client in end of life care... As individuals approach the end of their life, many do so concerned with the need to appear okay for family and loved ones... Music helps us to access these feelings...An important chapter in this book addresses the issue of working through difficult emotions in the therapeutic relationship and provides several case examples which demonstrate how anger can be used as an alternative for deeper, more complex emotions... Whatever the needs of the person in the final stages of life, the music therapist can use music and their relationship to promote a sense of togetherness so that the client knows they do not have to leave this world alone... This is a powerful, captivating book which draws you in and urges you to think deeply about your own music therapy practice -- Alison Sweeney, Music Therapist IACAT (Irish Association of Creative Arts Therapists) Journal Musical Encounters with the Dying: Stories and Lessons by Islene Runningdeer is one of those books which... offers the key ingredients for bringing music into palliative care settings. These include creating a therapeutic relationship, helping clients to reach final goals, and dealing with difficult emotions. It gives particular attention to supporting vulnerable groups of clients including those with disabilities and mental health issues, as well as working with relatives... The book highlights the breadth of ways in which music can support both patients and relatives in their time of need, as they face death... Runningdeer, includes many personal and insightful experiences of work with clients offering both creative and supportive ideas to consider. She highlights how her music therapy practice has developed, and how she has also developed realistic expectations of her client relationships. She discusses key qualities a therapist needs... Runningdeer's work provides some simple suggestions for the practitioner introducing music therapy to those who have little foreknowledge of it... Many examples of music therapy are given ... I deem Musical Encounters with the Dying: Stories and Lessons to be a valuable book for all music therapists, and particularly those working in palliative care... It is a very accessible and practical text... It could be a useful book within both music therapy training and on-going clinical supervision for experience therapists. -- Ray Travasso, Music Therapist Approaches: Music Therapy & Special Music Education Islene Runningdeer is an artist in sound. Her experiences of ministering to the dying (and the people who love them) through music and song are beautifully rendered here in the stories of Agnus, Kathy, Winifred, Ethan, and many other memorable souls who belong to her colorful, crusty, welcoming, challenging community. This is a book for aspiring music therapists, hospice teams, caregivers, and anyone who will someday face death. Oh...that's all of us, is it? Then let us all read this work of this wise musician, an experienced caregiver herself, and let us all sing the praises of these stories of our parents, sisters, brothers, neighbors, and friends, and how they were touched by compassionate care, and music. -- Jonna Goulding, MD, Hospice and Palliative Medicine Specialist We can explore with this book what we might want our own end to be. Islene leads us with heartfelt story and song on the intimacies of the last adventure. When we travel to places we don't know we use a guide book. Islene gives us one, the music book of stories we have stored in our hearts. From lullabies and rock and roll, to sounds of pageantry, dance tunes, and ecclesiastical soaring; she shows how the ending melts into the music of the spheres, guiding our way home. -- Kathy Panagiotes MA, MSN, RN, Professor and Program Chair, Mt. Wachusett Community College I am honored to add my voice to the chorus of appreciation for music as an end of life care necessity, and to Islene Runningdeer for patiently teaching me its value. -- From the Foreword by Diana Peirce, RN, CHPN, The Elizabeth Hospice, San Diego, California, Formerly Director of Hospice and Palliative Care, Central Vermont Home Health and Hospice, Barre, Vermont

About the Author

Islene Runningdeer is a music therapist with the Advanced Illness Care Team at Gifford Medical Center in Randolph, Vermont. In 2001 she convinced the Director of the Central Vermont Palliative Care and Hospice Team to allow her to demonstrate the effectiveness of music therapy with a brief pilot program. The positive results were immediately seen, and she was given a position on the clinical team. Islene also has experience as a professional pianist and music teacher. She lives in Vermont.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Jessica Kingsley Pub; 1 edition (July 28, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849059365
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849059367
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,975,982 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I am a musician (pianist and singer), healer, therapist, educator and author. I'm also a grandmother, mother, friend and citizen of the world. I work primarily with those who are dying, and their families, and our elders. My heritage is French and Indian, I live in beautiful Vermont, have a black cat named Patience, and am thoroughly enjoying my later life. I do some guest teaching from time to time at New England Conservatory in Boston, sharing my insights about music and medicine, music and spirit, music and human potential. I would love reading your comments about my recently published book, Musical Encounters with Dying: Stories and Lessons, and hope that it will shine some light on a topic that we all must consider.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Drysdale on July 2, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a great read for those interested in music therapy and its amazing role in comforting the ill and the dying, especially when it is offered by someone as accomplished and versatile as author Islene Runningdeer, a pianist, singer, and all-around compassionate human being.

Meet Jean, who, over the course of ten months, endured two brain surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatments before finally succumbing to cancer. During this time, she was greatly comforted by the gentle piano music that Runningdeer would offer.

Then there was Winny, whom the author met just 45 minutes before her death. Winny’s breathing already had grown labored, but settled into a peaceful rhythm after the author knelt down to breathe with her and sing simple vocal tones.

Gus, a former aviator, boxer, and farmer, and folklorist, liked writing songs and stories , but he had kept all his writings in a little cardboard box. With Runningdeer’s encouragement, he began to share them, and she recorded the songs, one by one, as a lasting tribute to him and a keepsake for his loved ones.

These are just three of the many poignant experiences that Runningdeer relates. From hermits in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom to holocaust survivors; from French Canadian singers to lovers of opera; from devotees of Chopin to fans of Alanis Morrisette, music, as administered by a highly flexible therapist like Runningeer, offered comfort and joy in their dying days.

Likening the relationship of therapist to patient like the relationship between soloist and accompanist, the author dedicates her book to “all the soloists who have taken their final bows.”

May someone like Runningdeer be around for me when I take mine!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sylvia Necklace on July 2, 2014
Format: Paperback
She knows music, and she knows exactly what kind of music will sooth and move her clients fearlessly into death's waiting arms. Music therapist Islene Runningdeer enters her dying clients' homes with no idea what to expect, but she is quick, and in a flash of brilliant instinct, she knows what form of music might work to help bring peace to these fortunate people (fortunate to encounter her!) as they transition. This book is for EVERYONE, not just those in the health care profession, not just those who know they are dying, not just musicians who are interested in this groundbreaking field - everyone! Often there are angels in our midst who have important stories to tell, but rarely do they actually know how to write well. This author is a fantastic writer. Ms. Runningdeer, I sure hope you have another book in the works; you have a big audience waiting to read it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Denise Weigum on October 2, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This work blends history, poetry, spirituality and of course music and relates it to the care of those facing death. The reader is invited/challenged to explore their own perceptions on dying/death a subject that we for the most part try to avoid. I think it is an important book for nurses,families and other care givers; sometimes our own fear of death puts up barriers to compassionate care at the end of life. The stories shared dignify those wonderful people whose life and death have been influenced for the better, what a wonderful gift.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Miriandra Rose Rota on March 14, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book gives real-life experiences and the thoughts behind a very talented, caring, and educated author. We all have dealt with or are currently dealing with loved ones who are dying. Getting real, in the moment, is this practicing musician-turned-deep-care-giver's hint to the secret of assisting the transition to be the best that it can be. The stories and experiences are deep and powerful. I recommend it to everyone.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By olivia hoblitzelle on November 8, 2013
Format: Paperback
Musical Encounters with Dying is an inspiring book. Islene uses her exceptional versatility as a musician to help transform the last phase of her patient’s lives. As a brilliant storyteller, her experience, wisdom and great heartedness shine through every page. I highly recommend her book. It is destined to be a classic in the uniquely healing role of music with the dying, and Islene is a master of this healing art.
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