Music Therapy Offers Comfort and Joy

Those who have heard Ali Grace Rapetti sing and play her guitar will tell you she has the voice of an angel. Many will also point out that she very well may be heaven sent with her soothing and comforting offerings. As we all seek connection and solace during these socially-distanced times, Ms. Rapetti’s music therapy mission has earned her wings, as well.

Ali Grace Rapetti is a registered music t herapist who offers her services free of charge to those often overwhelmed by depression, sadness, loneliness or living in fear of contracting Covid-19 as the pandemic continues. You will see her often at senior living communities, hospitals, private homes and hospice settings around the Upper Valley.

“The Sunapee Visiting Nurses Association allows me, as part of my job, to complete community outreach. When used clinically, music has the ability to provide emotional comfort, spiritual support, family connection and acceptance and can even ameliorate physical symptoms. The direction we take is up to the patient and his or her needs and the songs we utilize are based on a patient’s personal preferences. Being able to provide therapeutic presence and a patient’s preferred music at the end of his or her life is an honor I don’t take lightly.”

With Willie Nelson.

Having Grace appear in a local venue can also amount to just a ‘plain old fashion’ outdoor or indoor concert for senior citizens such as her recent appearance at the Quail Hollow Senior Living Community in West Lebanon. A light hearted performance where she seeks song requests from days gone by to invoke pleasant memories is the goal in those settings. “Music therapy isn’t about performance – it isn’t music for music’s sake – it is using music to achieve a non-musical goal like coping with a terminal diagnosis, providing a safe space for emotional expression or reviewing significant memories, to name a few. I have been able to perform on national tours and in hallowed music concert halls, but there is nothing as rewarding and meaningful to me as being able to provide music therapy to a hospice patient.”

When you review this singing angel’s background, you may be more than impressed. It may take a while to list her qualifications so bear with it.

Grace Rapetti is the founder and director of Starling Creative Arts. She actively practices music therapy, teaches music lessons and performs music weekly around Massachusetts and New Hampshire. She holds graduate degrees in music from the Berklee College of Music and the University of Colorado at Boulder and has written and performed with legendary artists. She has sung and shared stages with Willie Nelson, Carole King, Bobby McFerrin, The Eagles, Annie Lennox and Western African sensation Angelique Kidjo. Grace was featured as the U.S. representative of the International Ensemble Women of The World. She has sung on the legendary stages of Carnegie Hall and the Blue Note in New York City. She has been featured in Rolling Stone magazine and on National Public Radio for her version of the Beck’s “Old Shanghai.” In June of 2016, she performed the National Anthem at the Democratic National Convention. Grace was also a five-year member of the remarkable Boston-based ensemble Women of The World. She is also co-founder of the non-profit organization Arts Education International. That organization offers community-based arts programs for orphaned, abandoned, and traumatized children.

That should give you a sense of a fraction of her accomplishments to date, but just how did this all come about? She has followed an amazing path along life’s journey. Grace explains: “I was born in Houston, Texas and bounced around between Colorado, Florida and Massachusetts and now New Hampshire. I currently live in a cottage on Lake Sunapee, NH and hope to remain there for the long haul. My interest in music dates as far back as my first memory listening to “Puff The Magic Dragon” by Peter, Paul and Mary. I was never classically trained and no one ever told me I couldn’t sing or play, so I found solace, identity and fun in music. It wasn’t until I was sixteen that I picked up the guitar and started writing songs.”

So with all that musical background over the years selecting songs to comfort and entertain others, what does Grace consider her favorite song? What song would she like to hear when the end nears? The answer is a bit ironic! “I would like to hear “Angel” by Jimi Hendricks. It’s a journeying song and so comforting and beautiful to me. Another song I would select for comfort and beauty and joy is the Eva Cassidy version of “Fields of Gold.” Cassidy’s voice is a sonic catharsis – it calls forth deep emotion. My favorite current band is Wilco. Jeff Tweedy’s songwriting never fails to amaze me and the band has become so solid after decades of transition.”

So don’t forget, Upper Valley residents, as this pandemic continues to alter life styles and impacts all aspects of our lives, never forget the soothing benefits of music. Rest assured Grace is prepared to pick up her guitar and show you the way. Angels do exist.