Attendees: Heidi, Peggy, Laurel, Chris, Tristan, Kate, Tamara
Today we are celebrating and honoring our member, Tristan Adair as she retires from 25 years of work as a Music Thanatologist. Before Tristan embarks on her next adventure traveling the country in search of Sasquatch in her RV and teaching harp, we wanted to hear more about Tristan’s journey as a Music Thanatologist and learn from her vast experience.
Tristan was a music student of piano from the age of 3. Lucky enough to be born into a family of talented musicians she was recruited early to play in the family string quartet on violin and String Bass. Tristan attended BYU on a full music scholarship and also trained at the Royal Academy of Music in London playing String Bass.
After graduation, Tristan was living in Oregon and was recruited (voluntold) by her mother for the Bend Oregon Hospice, where her mom was a volunteer. At that time, Tristan had never played a harp or been interested in hospice work. As serendipity usually happens, while Tristan was volunteering, Therese Shchroeder-Sheker was invited as a keynote speaker to present at the hospice. She spoke about her Chalice of Repose Music Thanatology training program and Tristan was intrigued. Tristan and Therese had a long conversation after the conference and Therese encouraged Tristan to apply to the program. Even though Tristan did not play the harp at that time, she was admitted to the program in Missoula Montana. Tristan recounted that long ago she had had a memorable dream about a harp which made no sense to her at the time but was obviously prophetic in hindsight.
A short Youtube video of Therese Shroeder-Sheker you may want to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gppfjwu4xXk
The Bend Oregon Hospice was so supportive of this training that they partially funded Tristan’s training at the Chalice of Repose. When she graduated Tristan came back to Bend and was hired to work as a Music Thanatologist for them. Even with Tristan’s vast musical background and experience, the Chalice of Repose experience was daunting and demanding, according to Tristan. Many applied, few were admitted to the program and of those, many were redirected to other occupations before graduation. (It sounds like Harvard Law School.)
Tristan met Ann Dowdy at Chalice of Repose and Ann recruited Tristan to come to Salt Lake City where she said there was a great need and opportunity for Music Thanatology. Tristan has worked for a number of different hospices in Utah: Applegate, Care Source and CNS were the most memorable. Tristan recommends working in an inpatient hospice with a clinical team who truly understand the benefits of Therapeutic Music for the best experience in the world, as she had at CareSource. The most difficult misconception hospice and palliative care team members have is that music is a performance to entertain patients, which of course, it is NOT.
Some of Tristan’s most memorable experiences playing harp at the bedside occurred when she was privileged to play for patients who were actively dying and passed in her presence. One experience she remembers was a patient who seemed to generate a golden spiral from the top of his head upward and as they took their last breath, the spiral began to evaporate from the head moving upwards and then totally disappeared. Tristan believes that was when the patient’s soul took flight from their body. Another time she was playing for a young ALS patient and she saw a golden tapestry hanging midair over the patient prior to their passing. She has witnessed a glow of patients who are on the verge of dying that is unexplainable.
Tristan wished to thank all the members and guest of UTHN for their support and friendship over the last 2 years. As this work can be very solitary and most people don’t really understand what we do and why we do it, having a support network like UTHN is most valuable to share ideas, experiences and learn from each other.
Cyndi Bowen wanted me to thank all of those involved in her therapeutic harp healing experience last month. She found it a profoundly healing experience and couldn’t adequately express her gratitude at the time.
a followup to our discussion, the Music Thanatology Association International will
be holding their annual meeting in Portland Oregon September 13-15 at Still
Meadow Conference & Retreat Center
16561 SE Marna Road
Damascus, Oregon 97089
Potential presenters include Peter Roberts and Farshid Akhlaghi
All are welcome to attend. More information can be found on their website: www.MTAI.org
Our next meeting will be July 9, location to be determined. Peggy Cann is hosting and one of our Music Thanatologist friends will be presenting on Music Therapy in the NICU.
Our UTHN meeting was followed by the Heartland harp trunk show featuring the Serenity, their newest addition to their line of carbon fiber harps. Dave Woodworth was present and incredibly generous as he hauled one of each model into my house for us all to try. The Serenity weighs 5 lbs, fully levered and has 25 strings. It is retailing for approx.. $2500. If I was in the market for a new therapy harp, this would be the one I’d buy. While Dave was here he fixed a chronic intermittent buzzing problem I have been having with my Lewis Creek Jessie harp. I can’t believe how great it sounds now. 10 years old and still serving me and my hospice patients well. We all enjoyed playing them and lifting them and envying the built in light system. Safe travel wishes for Dave as he continues on his cross country show of harps.