Background In recent years, music therapy is increasingly used in palliative care. The aim of this pilot study was to record and describe the subjective experiences of patients and their relatives undergoing music therapy with a Body Tambura in a German hospice and to develop hypotheses for future studies. Methods In a qualitative interview pilot study, data collection and analyses were performed according to the methodological framework of grounded theory. We included German-speaking patients, or relatives of patients, receiving end of life care in an inpatient hospice setting. Results 11 persons consisting of 8 patients (age range 51–82 years, 4 male and 4 female) and 3 relatives were treated and interviewed. All patients suffered from cancer in an advanced stage. The most often described subjective experiences were a relaxing and calming effect, sensations that the body feels lighter, and the generation of relaxing images and visualizations. Family members enjoyed listening to the music and felt more connected with the sick family member. Conclusion Patient reported beneficial aspects. The small sample size could be seen as a limitation. Assessment instruments measuring relaxation, stress, quality of life and should be included in future quantitative studies.