Lingering Melodies

Features Lifestyles

Jeremy Gonterman Ryan Lombard

* Jeremy Gonterman is the trumpet player on the left in the group shot.  Ryan Lombard is on guitar.

*These are submitted photos

Although eyesight is usually the first sense a person loses, hearing is the last. In some cases, this is a remarkable thing, especially when Missouri Western music students perform their comforting music to terminally ill patients.

Missouri Western’s Lingering Melodies is a grant-funded program where music students perform for hospice patients who either live in their homes or who are in nursing homes. The program is designed to bring comfort and peace through music. Over the years, musicians have included vocalists, percussionists, violinists and more.

In 2000, Sally Schwab, observed a music therapy program and wanted to start a similar thing in St. Joseph. Jackie Thomas, clinical pastoral education supervisor and chaplain at Heartland as well as a wife to a professor in the music department at Missouri Western music students, thought it would be a good experience to the program. Together, the two formed a partnership with the music department, the Missouri Western Foundation, Hands of Hope Hospice and the Heartland Foundation, thus creating Lingering Melodies.

Kari Maag and Laura Bodicky, volunteer coordinators for Mosaic Life Care, coordinate the program along with training the students. Training consists of two hours of orientating students about the healing properties of music, the needs of the dying, issues of confidentiality, and information about how the program will work. Students receive $35 for a 30 minute performance. Mileage is also paid for performances done outside of the St. Joseph city limits.

The social worker team for Mosaic Life Care Hospice meets with music students and arranges the type of hymns, music, and show tunes the patient enjoys or listens to and later students perform with an accompanied volunteer in the room with the patient.

Currently, there are two music students, Jeremy Gonterman and Ryan Lombard , who are participating in Lingering Melodies.

Gonterman, a freshman music technology major, feels that being involved with Lingering Melodies is not only rewarding, but a “awe’’ inspiring experience and encourages other music majors to participate.

“I would let them know (the students) how truly rewarding it is. I am not a part of this for money, I am a part of this because I want to make a difference. I want to help someone who has a limited time left on this Earth, be happy, even if only for 30 minutes,” Gonterman said.

Music technology senior, Lombard has only been performing for Lingering Melodies for a short time, but every experience is different for him.

“Most of the time I take for granted what I do, but when I perform for these patients it seems to really do something for them. But more than anything, I’m honored to provide people some joy in the midst of what I imagine is an overwhelming time for them,” Lombard said.

Administrative Assistant Martha Greer feels that Lingering Melodies not only benefits students who are involved, but teaches them life experiences.

“I think it really brings to home what their music can do and it really can make a difference. It’s 30 minutes, but it can mean so much and they are growing as young musicians,” Greer said.

For music majors that are interested in participating in Lingering Melodies, they can contact Martha Greer at or stop by her office in Potter Hall 114.




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