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Peter Roberts | The Institute of Music In Medicine | IMIM | Harp Player | Music Thanatology

The Institute of Music in Medicine.

IMIM was dedicated to promoting music-thanatology and incorporating the benefits of therapeutically played live music in caring for those facing life threatening illness.

We endeavoured to make this music available without charge to the recipient.

We were a non-profit charitable organisation with tax deductible gift recipient status (DGR status).

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About Us.

The Institute of Music in Medicine (IMIM) was a registered Non-Profit Charitable Company limited by guarantee (ACN 121 705 271) . It was administered by a Board of Directors and was fully compliant with the requirements as stipulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

Thank you to the board of directors for their support and guidance over the years.

Peter Robert photo below by Pam Hutchinson for COGG .

Peter Roberts | The Institute of Music In Medicine | IMIM | Harp Player | Music Thanatology | Roberts Music | Reverie Harps |

"It is not just the music,
I must make this clear.
It is the love that goes with it"


Arts and science.

Throughout history varieties of music styles have been integral to rituals of healing. In contemporary medical settings, music's ability to promote healing and comfort is the result of combining the musical arts with science.

Biomedical explanations.

The physical and emotional responses to music were once considered to be magical, mystical or unexplainable, but now with an understanding of brain functioning we are able to appreciate the biomedical causes of the musically influenced outcomes. Any change in the body begins with the brain. The brain interprets "sound" as "music" before that sound can exert a musical influence. (Taylor,1997 p 18). Music can have a positive effect upon both neural functions and hormonal activity, and therefore can influence the body's own immune and regenerative processes. Research has demonstrated the physiological outcomes of the influence of music. Among other things it can supplement pain control methods, influence heart rate, support respiratory distress by enhancing its depth, quality and rate.

Alleviating personal suffering.

Beyond the biomedical explanations of the physiological changes brought about through music's influence, certain forms of music can play an invaluable part in supporting our complex, personal, human needs. This music can assist in bringing about meaningful encounters with each other, it can deepen spiritual connections and offer emotional support during intense personal suffering. The value of music in these realms is immeasurable.

Physical, emotional and spiritual.

The work of the IMIM is to offer to the community music practitioners who are able to work skilfully with live music to offer physical, emotional and spiritual comfort through their music.

Music-thanatology research.

Deakin University in partnership with St John of God Hospital conducted a yearlong research project into the effects of the music offered through the discipline of music-thantology. Their Report entitled "Relief of Suffering at the End of Life" was prepared by Emeritus Professor Helen Cox and presented at the prestigious Mayo Clinic in the United States (Mayo Spiritual Care Research Conference 2006). Copies of this report are available through Roberts Music for a nominal charge.

"Music begins where words end"

Johanne Wolfgang van Goethe

Music Vigils.

What happens at a music vigil?

The intention of the music vigil is that it offers a soothing presence to support the emotional, spiritual and physical needs of the patient. The trained music-thanatologist watches with a peaceful, attentive presence, and offers supportive assistance as required through the use of live music (voice and harp). This music is continually adjusted in the moment to support the complex changing needs of the patient. The cultivation of a comforting silence is an essential ingredient in the vigil also.

This cultivation of a loving presence along with skillfully played, supportive music, and the development of a comforting silence most often brings profound peace. Family members, loved ones and carers may benefit also.

"Thank you for playing for my husband and for me. Your music sessions were a most precious time and I will treasure those memories. Thank you also for playing at the funeral... your music was an important feature of it."

What is required of the patient?

This music is a unique form of comfort for those facing life threatening illness and at the very end of life when death is imminent. The patient is not required to respond in any way, instead an invitation to "rest into the music" is offered in order that they need not expend any energy making new connections.

Sheet Music

"It takes me away.
It helps me so much,
you have no idea."



Music in medicine.
Practitioner training.
Public performances.

The principal purpose of The Institute of Music in Medicine (IMIM) was to foster and advocate the therapeutic uses of music in medical care. Our objectives are:

  1. compassionately serve those facing life threatening illness, the dying and their loved ones with prescriptively played music.

  2. support each patient's physical, emotional and spiritual needs and to relieve their suffering and distress through the discipline of music-thanatology

  3. value all religions, faiths and cultures without favour.

  4. extend the music repertoire where possible to include the diverse musical traditions of Australia's indigenous and multi-cultural populations in order to serve their needs appropriately in relation to their experience of death, loss and grief.

  5. engage in research of music in medicine practices, and pioneer advances in this field in order to improve patient outcomes.

  6. encourage the growth of this field through the education of the medical, academic and broader communities in the value of this practice as an alternative to the traditional cultural and biomedical responses to issues of death, dying, grief and suffering.

  7. expand the offering of music-thanatology* in Australia through the training of practitioners.

  8. produce public artistic performances to provide comfort, deepen understanding, and inspire change on a broader social level concerning the value of the human need for care of the soul through musical offerings in sickness, death and dying.

* Music-thanatology is recognised as a sub-specialty of palliative medicine which addresses the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of a dying patient with prescriptive, live music.

The IMIM is formed for the exclusive purpose of pursuing charitable purposes only and its income will be applied to promote those charitable purposes.

Caregiver with Patient

"The Music started to give him life.
He could only just move his hands.
This was the first positive thing he was able to do beyond his sickness."

Pastoral Care Worker.


All donations to the Institute of Music in Medicine were fully tax deductible and greatly appreciated.
We were totally reliant on the generosity of donors to continue the work. Donations were used for the following:

  • Bedside musical vigils

  • Education of healthcare providers

  • Encouraging and supporting research and investigation into the beneficial effects of therapeutic musical care.

  • Professional development and training.

  • Administrative expenses


Thank you to all those who generously supported IMIM on their journey.

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Website by LMM designs © 2024, The Institute of Music In Medicine, ABN. 50 121 705 271

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