‘Crucial time’: International musician returns home to heal patients through music therapy

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LORAIN, Ohio (WJW) — At about 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Darryl, a patient at Mercy Hospital in Lorain, was groggy, resting in bed waiting to get a breathing treatment.

About 10 minutes later, he was singing “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” by the Temptations, playing a shaker with a smile on his face.

It was part of a new music therapy program at the hospital that’s open to anyone.

“Music can enter places of our brain that maybe not anything else can,” said music therapist, Jaclyn Bradley. “Anyone can participate, you just have to love music, and that’s just about everybody.”

Bradley pushes a music cart with a keyboard, guitar, tone chimes and other percussion instruments through the hospital to work with patients who have been referred by their medical team or whose families asked for them to participate.

The program is meant to help patients during crucial times; to help with pain, anxiety, depression or a new diagnosis. Sessions involve singing, instrument play and even songwriting.

“We meet the patient where they are and can develop our goals based on their needs and then do it through music,” said Bradley.

Thursday, she found the song Darryl chose and song and tailored it to fit their needs. He shook the shaker while she sang and played guitar.

“We definitely want to make sure every patient can play music as well as listen to music,” she said.

Patients couldn’t be learning from someone with much more experience. Bradley is an international musician, a filmmaker, a vocal instructor and songwriter. While she’s been all over the world, she knew she wanted to work in her hometown of Lorain.

“I started off as an opera singer,” she said. “I went to LA as a singer-songwriter, but always felt like I wanted to do something good with music.”

After moving back home, she volunteered at a local hospital and learned about music therapy. She went back to school and became board-certified music therapist. She worked with patients at University Hospitals and even at facilities in Dublin and Holland before moving back home with her daughter.

“I thought how can I bring this to Lorain, my hometown,” she said.

She was invited to work at Mercy Hospital, and the program started in late September.

“It’s an amazing time to be with these patients during a crucial time,” she said.

The music is patient-preferred, she said. She finds out a little about why they chose a certain song and how they’re feeling that day.

Thursday, it was all Motown for Darryl.

“When someone’s in the hospital, people who come to the room are giving them tests and shots and breathing treatments,” she said. “So to have someone come in with a favorite song, and he’s shaking a shaker and playing an instrument and smiles on their faces, it’s just an honor to be a part of that.”

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