Musical Midwifery For The Dying with Therese Schroeder-Sheker

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From childhood this accomplished musician was fascinated by monastic music, and later observed death in many forms while working in a geriatric home. These influences came together in her work in "music thanatology," the art and science of easing the passage into death through music, sound and ritual. Combining a medical awareness of physiology and body rhythms with contemplation and compassion in their deathbed vigils, Schroeder-Sheker and her associates are restoring dignity and mystery to death, reinterpreting it as a life experience. "It's not about death," she says, "You learn, a hundred times a day, that doing this work is about living, right now, much more fully." (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


An internationally acclaimed harpist, singer and composer, Schroeder-Sheker is dean and co-founder of the Chalice of Repose Project in Missoula, Montana.

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • The dream and magic of playing the harp
  • A love affair with medieval music
  • Lessons about death from work in a geratric home
  • Singing people through the dying process
  • How a fearful death can become a peaceful one
  • Creating deathbed vigils with ritual and music
  • How ancient monasteries used music as medicine
  • Why silence is as necessary as music
  • The surprising power of a lullaby
Host: Justine Willis Toms       Interview Date: 6/26/1996        Program Number: 2575