I love to bring music to nursing home residents, especially those with dementia. A friend once fittingly called this work my “joy ministry.” Though not a certified music therapist, I do see my work as more than “just” entertainment. I aim to foster ease, comfort, and a sense of connection.
In 1986, at Hillcrest Manor (now Newton Center) in Sanford, Maine, I undertook an artist’s residency sponsored by the New England Artists Training Project, promoting experiences in the arts for people with special needs. Training for this program included workshops by Very Special Arts Massachusetts and a symposium at the Cotting School for Handicapped Children in Boston. I’ve continued to work in this specialty, while also serving general audiences.
My nursing home programs are tailored to the facility, and may include: musical visits to room-bound individuals and others identified by staff as needing attention; roving music to meet residents where they are; music for group events; and soothing piano music at mealtime in the dining room. I usually bring my guitar, accordion, autoharp, flute, and ukulele. I have a wide repertoire of folk, Christian, and popular music. My fees are affordable and negotiable. Please be in touch to explore how I might be of service.
A few recommendations (emphasis added):
“Katherine has a remarkable, therapeutic skill that I have never seen in anyone else in the 24 years I have been involved with the elderly. Her voice has a texture and clarity that engages her listeners and her range of music and instruments assures everyone will enjoy something! When she asks for requests she is able to identify the most obscure reference and please the individual with that song from long ago. The most wonderful moments Katherine provided were in the hour she spent with our residents with advanced dementia. Outside stimulation was eliminated by closing the door, no staff were allowed in for any but emergency reasons. The room was quiet and calm and Katherine would begin to sing surrounded by residents who seldom responded to anything. Within minutes their posture and breathing would relax, people would smile, mouth words and remember pieces of a tune. Katherine’s music touched a place in them that we could not reach. I would recommend Katherine to you without reservation. All who are near her and hear her are better for it.”
– Mary Ann Gessner, CNHA, Administrator, Country Village Center, Lancaster, NH
“Katherine provides some of the richest programming here. She travels throughout the building, instruments on a cart, touching the lives of all in the building. This is no small task: We have seven dining rooms among the three floors housing 123 residents. She moves with quiet grace and respect, stopping for a minute or an hour to play a song for, or sing with one resident or ten. She has a wonderful intuition about the needs of each resident with whom she comes in contact. She also touches the lives of the staff, including me. There is nothing greater than to see someone in a late stage of a dementing illness clearly connecting with the world through Katherine’s song.”
– Anne Herrick, Administrator, Springbrook Center for Healthcare and Rehabilitation, Westbrook, ME
“The joy and comfort she brought to the residents was evident by the expression on their faces….Katherine brought much more than music to the residents. Her gifts of caring, compassion, commitment and love were evident in all that she did. It was a joy to observe her interact with the residents, both in her group entertainment and her 1×1 involvement.”
– Thomas Peters, Activity Director, Brookside Health and Rehabilitation Center, Bradford, VT
“Katherine Rhoda has been providing musical programs at facilities for me for over 10 years. Her gentle, loving approach to seniors of all functioning levels exceeds any other performer I have ever hired. She has the knowledge and expertise of a variety of unusual and usual instruments, and a pleasant and soothing voice. When working with nursing home residents, Katherine learns which songs and instruments they enjoy, and plays them from visit to visit. Anyone walking by can see how her musical style lifts the residents’ spirit, and truly makes their day….I would highly recommend Katherine for any senior audience, or any audience for that matter. Her fee is also quite modest for someone of her caliber.”
– Patricia Flynn, Lifestyle Director, The Atrium at the Cedars, Portland, ME