On Wings of Song – Music Therapy at the End of Life

(1999) 43 minutes

Deborah Salmon has worked as a music therapist with the terminally ill since 1984. Featuring her work in the Palliative Care Unit of the Royal Victoria Hospital, On Wings of Song shows how a skilled music therapist may help a diverse group of patients find spiritual and emotional nourishment during their last days.

By calling upon the knowledge of a wide range of musical instruments and styles, a music therapist is able to forge a strong emotional connection with a patient. One tired, elderly patient is awakened from her lethargy and surprises us with the vigor of her song. A younger woman finds pleasure in improvising lyrics to a familiar tune. Adult children gather at their mother’s bedside to sing favorite hymns. This poignant and inspiring film captures moments of humor, celebration and joy made possible through music.

“Music seems to speak to the person in the patient. It somehow creates a sacred space in which we can together explore what is meaningful.” Deborah Salmon

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