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Making a Difference:  American Musician Performs Bedside to Soothe Ill And Dying

Cathy Maglaras is a therapeutic musician. She is one of a growing number of people specially trained to play music meant to soothe the sick and dying. For this week's installment in our series Making a Difference, VOA follow up with Maglaras while making the rounds of a Maryland hospital.

"Mr. Vallahos, my name is Cathy and I'm a music practitioner…This is not a concert, this is for you to help you relax, to create peace...," says Maglaras as she plays her harp for a patient.

Cathy Maglaras has always loved music.

"As a child I played piano, violin, flute," she said. "And it was a way that I could express my emotions and really touch the deepest part of me."

For the past two years, Maglaras has been using her musical talents in a special way. She has been playing live, therapeutic music for people who are sick or dying.

"I come into a patient's room, and I'm there for them. My focus is on them, my heart is with them," she said. "The music comes through me and I use the music to help and to enhance their healing so it's a very fulfilling feeling."

Carolyn Bonnett is one of several cancer patients Maglaras is playing for this afternoon at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland.

"Cathy is an angel herself who is blessed with the most wonderful talent," she said. "It certainly made my day and I'm sure for many others who will hear this."

But therapeutic music is not just for the sick and dying. The gentle sounds from Maglaras' harp also seem to soothe the newborn babies in the neonatal intensive care unit at Mercy Medical.

Terashelle Blue, is a new mom who says music calms her baby, and even helps her relax as well.

"I think it's a very good idea to play the music for the babies; when I came in I noticed it was very soothing and relaxing, I even thought I was going to be put to sleep. It's very relaxing, very calming," she said.

Maglaras received formal training, which is required to become a certified music practitioner and she says more hospitals are offering such therapy.

"This is just the beginning of music in healthcare," she said. "Body, mind and spirit are connected, and music touches us at the most human level; the deepest level, where mind, body and spirit come together."