Massachusetts General Hospital announced today that it would be laying off all of its music therapists.
“We are grateful for the countless hours our music therapists have spent working with clients to enrich their lives and reduce their suffering,” said MGH President and CEO Dr. Gary Swanson. “However, after the passing of her late husband Schmuli, Anna Weisenberg graciously donated three dozen used iPod Nanos to the hospital. The iPods have dramatically reduced demand rendering the need for the department obsolete.”
Music therapists are trained to harness the power of music for its psychological benefits. They incorporate instruments, singing, and songwriting into their treatment. Their patients include people suffering from dementia, victims of trauma, and those in palliative care. Unfortunately for music therapists, the iPod Nano may be a more effective intervention.
“We used to have a music therapist come and work with my dad,” said Nina Gomez, whose father suffers from early-onset Alzheimers. “She would sing and strum, but he rarely engaged with her. However, once he got ahold of that iPod Nano he was up and out of his chair, singing and dancing to 2006 hits like ‘Dani California’ and ‘Smack That.'”
“The iPod Nanos have completely revitalized our practice,” said Dr. Henry Tashima, a prominent psychiatrist at MGH. “Don’t get me wrong, the music therapists were an invaluable asset, but none of them can compete with legends like The Beatles, Elton John, and early Weezer. It’s nothing personal. I mean, if there were some sort of device that could prescribe people dangerous medications, diagnose copious amounts of kids with ADHD, and lean heavily on the placebo effect for all of its treatments, then I would be out of the job too.”
The American Music Therapy Association has not released an official statement yet, though one of their members who wishes to remain anonymous claims an E.P. will be dropping this fall.