Hospice of the Western Reserve tunes into the power of music therapy


Natalie Leo’s sweet and gentle disposition certainly adds to the healing experience of the music therapy she provides. She is a board-certified music therapist and has provided creative musical outlets for patients and their families for the last four years.
Music Therapy is the use of music to reach non-musical goals. In hospice, music therapy is provided to help manage symptoms  such as physical pain, shortness of breath and agitation. This expressive therapy can also help patients emotionally adjust to major changes in their lives such as new living situations, a new diagnosis or prognosis and even anticipatory grief.
“The tools I use are usually me and my guitar,” says Natalie. “But I also play different kinds of music based on what the patients prefer, from classical music to rock to country and everything in between.
Natalie has also used music therapy to help with existential symptoms. One patient was not afraid of death but was afraid of the process. Through music, she was able to confront and understand her emotions, and she completed the sessions feeling unafraid. Natalie mentions that the therapy gave the patient some control and autonomy after losing so much.
Music Therapy also provides space for conversations where words might not come too easily. She has worked with families, especially children, to write songs and express their feelings through music. This process helps parents and children talk to each other, as well as share their emotions collectively.
Natalie’s passion for this work is contagious. She speaks fondly of the families she has worked with over the years and considers it an honor to be welcomed by hospice patients and relatives.
“Death is a sacred time,”  she says. “It is a vulnerable time for people. It’s one of the few experiences we all have in common. To be invited, welcomed, and trusted in this space of someone’s life is such a privilege. I am honored to share these moments and memories with our families.”
For more information on music therapy, visit
American Music Therapy Association | American Music Therapy Association (AMTA)

We Can Help

Speak with the referral team by contacting us seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Any first visit and admission can be made the first day.

Northern Ohio's Hospice of Choice

More than 1,000 Hospice of the Western Reserve employees and 3,000 volunteers live and work side-by-side in the same neighborhoods with our patients and families. We are privileged to have cared for more than 100,000 Northern Ohioans since our inception.