Music Program

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 ongoing programs.

Our 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.

Therapeutic Music and Clinical Care

“Therapeutic music is live acoustic music, played or sung, and specifically tailored to the patient’s immediate need. It is an art based on the science of sound.”
–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, read this article by Jayne Demakos.

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

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 per diem Hospicare social worker  Kira Lallas, LCSW.   This program is offered intermittently; please contact our bereavement services team to inquire when it will be offered again, 607-272-0212,

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. Our Events calendar has details about upcoming events.

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 collaboratively 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

If you would like to know more about the Hospicare music program or are interested in volunteering as a musician, please contact Hospicare Music Program Coordinator Jayne Demakos, CTHP.