Portraits: Pam Hutchinson for CoGG .
Once upon a time I was a furniture retailer. It seems like a lifetime ago now. 20+ years later in mid-life, I made a choice to leave my business and pursue an unusual career path. That of a palliative care musician...
My livelihood as a music-thanatologist began in 1998 after returning to Australia having completed a two-year training at a hospital in the United States.
A bloke with a harp working in hospitals has attracted much media attention and, on this website, you will find many of the articles and interviews relating to those times.
My focus now is on the production of my little Reverie Harps.
They are wonderful and fascinating instruments and I have customers all over the world. They are finding their way into private homes, care facilities, yoga studios, in sound healing circles, and even In kindergartens during storytelling time.
They are quite beautiful, and I am proud of them.
Take some time to explore my website and you will see what I mean.
While I call myself a therapeutic music practitioner to help people understand what it is that I do, my training however was in the field of music-thanatology.
If you are like most people the term music-thanatology is a term you seldom come across. I trained in this specialised music discipline for two and a half years at a school based at a hospital in MT in the USA and have offered this form of care in Australia from 1997 until now.
As a certified music-thanatologist I am trained to offer live, prescriptively played music (harp and voice) at the bedside of patients facing the end of their lives. Over the years I have broadened the application of my music to include recovering patients as well, but the focus of the training in music-thanatology was entirely for palliative care.
An essential component to this offering involves bringing an attitude of compassion, and an attentive, loving presence that is expressed through the music. I know this may sound a bit mushy to those with a cynical disposition but it is nonetheless very real. The effect is profound.
Musical sessions usually culminate in a comfortable deep silence. The benefits of this form of care have been well-researched, as shown in two Deakin University reports available for purchase here. More information can also be found in a range of media interviews and articles listed below.
Over the Years
1973 - 1994
Roberts Interiors Geelong
1994 - 1997
1998 - present
Threshold Music Services
Contracted Therapeutic Harp Practitioner
2002 - 2017
St John of God Hospital,
2006 - present
The Institute of Music in Medicine (IMIM)
Creation: Reverie Harp
ABC TV: Australian Story
Mayo Clinic, USA.
The Harp and The Ferryman
From Music into Silence
Boom Gallery Art Precinct
2018 - present
St John of God Hospital, Geelong
Fine furniture, interior decorating, lighting, re-upholstery, curtain manufacture, Interior décor items.
St Patrick hospital Missoula MT.
Music-thanatology training. CORP.
Musical instrument manufacture, music related projects including workshops, harp lessons, recordings.
The offering of therapeutic music for end-of-life care (music-thanatology); Presentations; Education; Research projects.
Anam Cara Hospice, Geelong.
McKellar Palliative Care Unit.
Geelong Barwon Health hospital.
Ballarat base hospital.
Gandarra Palliative Care Unit, Ballarat.
Staff therapeutic harp practitioner, General wards.
Special care nursery, Oncology ward.
CCU. ICU. Pre & Post Op. Palliative Care ward. Pastoral services.
Relief of Suffering at the end of life
Report from an Australian project to implement and evaluate a live harp music-thanatology program. Deakin University - purchase here
Founded by Peter Roberts, The IMIM is a non-profit charity dedicated to promoting music-thanatology and incorporating the benefits of therapeutically played live music in caring for those facing life threatening illness, available without charge to the recipient.
Born from an idea of Peter Roberts (Australian music thanatologist) through an encounter with a patient. Instrument created in collaboration with Musicmakers (Stillwater, MN).
The Use of Prescriptively played harp music in the Special Care Nursery (Premature babies unit)
Heaven Sent - Peter Roberts featured documentary on Australian Story.
Introduced by Chrissie Amphlett.
Peter Roberts and Emeritus Professor Helen Cox invited as presenters at the Mayo Spiritual Care Conference re findings of the Australian Relief of Suffering research report.
Peter Roberts biography published by Michelle Anderson publishers. Authors. Peter Roberts & Em. Prof. Helen Cox
World premiere at 58th Krakow Documentary Film Festival Poland
Screened in major cities across Australia & in Oregon USA.
David Stratton review
It’s a treat to be working alongside jewellers, visual artists, architects, my amazing web designer and other creatives... Great coffee is available across the road at Brother Lawrence within Boom Gallery.
Volunteer therapeutic musician