Music Therapy | St. Louis Public Radio

Music Therapy

Hospice patient Dorothy Matejka enjoys a music therapy session with her daughter Nancy Daake and music therapists Alison Cole and Kathryn Coccia, seen here with her guitar.
Nancy Fowler | For St. Louis Public Radio

Some of Dorothy Matejka’s favorite days are when she gets to enjoy music therapy in her south St. Louis apartment. She never tires of songs like “On the Good Ship Lollipop” and “Goodnight, Irene” that recall special moments of her 93 years.

“I’ve had a very good life and a lot of laughs, a lot of good times and a lot of memories,” Matejka said.

Matejka wistfully anticipates leaving a special memory for her family after her death: a song that includes her own heartbeat and lyrics drawn from family stories. The song is part of the Heartbeat Project, which music therapist Alison Cole started three years ago with hospice patients after hearing about it in other cities.

Melanie Barrier was adopted at age 10 by a Columbia, Missouri ,couple, after living in 20 different foster homes.
Carolina Hidalgo| St. Louis Public Radio

Melanie Barrier went into the Florida foster care system as a newborn. She lived in 20 foster homes before she was adopted at age 10.

Stability existed in only one realm: music. As a child traveling from family to family, Barrier took along her beloved songs of the 1970s.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 7, 2013 - During the long month between Richard Hawkins’ stage-four neck cancer diagnosis and his first chemotherapy session, he worried about the slow-growing cancer spreading. “I was very nervous and anxious,” Hawkins, 61, said.

But Hawkins’ first session at Saint Louis University Hospital cancer center this past November actually became a calming experience.