Our Music Program

The Hospicare music program was initiated in January 2006 by Jayne Demakos, a certified therapeutic harp practitioner (CTHP) and long-time Ithaca resident. Under Jayne’s leadership, the program has development into a vital and integral part of Hospicare’s mission for patient care and community service.

The music program is two-fold: the use of therapeutic music as a complementary medicine to traditional hospice and palliative care offered by our clinical team; and community outreach, offering opportunities for the community to engage with Hospicare through on-going programs.

Therapeutic Music and Clinical Care

“Therapeutic music is an art based on the science of sound. It is live acoustic music, played or sung, specifically tailored to the patient’s immediate need, which brings music’s intrinsic healing value to the bedside of the ailing,” according to the National Standards Board for Therapeutic Musicians..

Therapeutic Music at Hospicare employs the use of harp and voice to bring comfort and ease to hospice patients and their families. The musicians offer live music at the bedside, responding moment-by-moment to a patient’s needs, whether they be physical, emotional, psychosocial or spiritual.  Therapeutic music is not performance. It is considered to be a medical intervention, complementing the clinical care we offer at Hospicare. 

For more information about therapeutic harp, click here.

In addition to therapeutic harp, we have the following programs to support patients and their families:


  • Hospicare’s Schola Cantorum:  a small group of select singers who sing at the patient’s bedside along with the trained therapeutic musician/music specialist. All singers must complete Hospicare’s volunteer training.

  • Grief Song--Building a Vocal Community in the Face of Loss (formerly Singing Through Grief): Borrowing from various traditions where music is an integral part of expressing grief, we explore song and sound with an emphasis on emotional expression. Songs are simple, and taught and sung in sessions. This bereavement program enables participants to make time to feel and move through feelings of grief. Facilitated by Hospicare Music Specialist Jayne Demakos CTHP, and former Hospicare Bereavement Counselor Kira Lallas, LCSW. 

Music and Community Outreach

Our music program offers a wide range of opportunities for the Ithaca community to participate in Hospicare. You are invited to join us.

  • Women Singing: This monthly gathering takes place from 5:30–7:00 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month at the Nina K. Miller Hospicare Center. This is a women’s singing circle, focusing on a capella songs from different traditions, simple part harmonies and rounds. We gather for the love of singing and to bring beautiful choral sound into Hospicare’s Residence. Hospicare Events: Volunteer and professional musicians provide music for various Hospicare events, such as our summer luminaria event known as Illuminations, and the yearly Memorial Service for families of Hospicare patients.

For more information about Hospicare events, click here.

  • Musicales: A few times a year, seasonal professional musical performances are held at the Nina K. Miller Hospicare Center. These are opportunities for all in our community and the larger Ithaca community to enjoy fine music in a restful setting. 
  • Music for Common Areas in the Hospicare Residence: Occasionally, volunteer musicians play quiet music in the Residence common areas, which provides a soothing, calming and pleasurable experience for patients, families and staff.

Beauty Crowds Me: An Homage to Beauty

A collaborative audio disc created and produced by Hospicare; the Ithaca College School of Music; Alex Perialas and Pyramid Sound Studios; Ithaca College Gerontology Institute, part of the Division of Interdisciplinary and International Studies; and the Linden Center for Creativity and Aging also at Ithaca College.

The CD is $18 (free to Hospicare patients and family), and all proceeds benefit Hospicare. It is available on-line at www.cdbaby.com.

To purchase a copy click here.

If you would like to know more about the Hospicare music program, or are interested in volunteering as a musician, contact Hospicare Music Specialist Jayne Demakos, CTHP, at jdemakos@hospicare.org.


During the four months Rich was at Hospicare, words were failing. What he sometimes wanted to say he couldn't, and what he said he didn't want to. But then came Pamela with her voice and dulcimer, and Jayne with her harp, and sometimes Joe sat at the piano, and then Rich knew he wasn't alone in the world that he was leaving and maybe -- just maybe -- where he was going he would be met by the same beauty that was feeding his soul. - Candace Galik

I tend to be a rationalist and a planner, a list-maker. The gift of music encourages me to be more than that--to be open to the spirit within, to wait in silence and peace, to live in acceptance of the new reality without My Beloved, and to have faith that the future will be bright and beautiful, filled with new life and new love. - E. Kimball Milling