I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to attend the 2017 Music Care Conference in Edmonton on November 6th. Presented in conjunction with Room 217, the Winspear Centre – Tommy Banks Institute for Musical Creativity, ICCER, and the Laurier Centre for Music in the Community, the message was simple: Music Humanizes Healthcare.
“Music care is an approach not only to caregiving but an approach to life. We gather, believing no matter our age, stage, or health status, music enhances quality of life and sustains the human spirit”.
What an experience!
First off, I’m definitely going to the next conference. Secondly, I’m adding Music Care Training to my bucket list. Thirdly, I’d love to learn to play an instrument (perhaps a graduation gift to myself!). And fourth, expressive arts is fun!
At first, I wasn’t sure about the venue, don’t get me wrong, it couldn’t be more fitting, but my thought was that it would be far from intimate, and isn’t that what music is about? What I had in my mind, was not how it went. The Winspear had us set up in a small room behind the stage, where the acoustics were more than impressive and the wooden floor squeaked as you walked across it.
Registration began in the lobby at 7:45 am sharp, paired with music by pianist Sherryl Sewepagaham. The lobby was also filled with various vendors: The Alzheimer Society, The Alberta Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA), ICCER, Music Through Therapy Association for Alberta, Room 217 Foundation, the Music Store, the Winspear Centre, and Wellspring Edmonton.
We began the incredibly informative day as a large group, where we were welcomed with music by Cam Brown, Aiyana Anderson-Howatt, and the Wellspring Choir. We then listened to the following speakers:
Dr. Corene Hurt-Thaut: A pioneer in Neurologic Music Therapy, Dr. Hurt-Taut gave us a brief introduction to the evidence-based practice of Neurologic Music Therapy and a glimpse at how elements of music can be used to influence non-musical brain and behaviour functions. See more about the work she is involved with on the NMT website.
Julian West: At the forefront of Music for Life, Julian has been developing music projects for people living with dementia and their carers since 1993. Involving improvisation and professional musicians to create new music with persons with dementia has become successful in exploring new ways for them to express themselves and connect with others.
Breaking for lunch (provided by Mercer’s Catering), we were able to network and mingle and visit the various vendor booths. Additionally, there was a lunch and learn presented by Room 217 on Music Care Training. As much as I wanted to attend this session, I was drawn to the Winspear tour, knowing that we would be able to experience the Davis Concert Organ… As a teen, I worked as Front of House staff at the Winspear Centre, and though I had been into many of the back halls and rooms of the Winspear, but there are no words that can describe having the organ played for you personally, though I was in a group, there was something special about learning about the infamous musical instrument in such an intimate way.
After lunch, we all split up and attended two workshops that we had pre-selected at registration.
I listened to the following presenters:
“Sometimes Words are Not Enough – Music Therapy in Mental Health” by Jennifer Buchanan – Music Therapy has been proven to be effective in addressing issues related to emotion while fostering changes in mood, memory, and engagement. Her presentation was inspiring, personal, and moving; she is an incredible speaker!
“Using Expressive Arts in Care” by Sasha Campbell – Introducing us to expressive arts therapy and its applications in working with a diverse population, Sasha guided us through the process of expressive arts work, showing us the ways of making the nurturing benefits of the arts accessible to everyone.
To close the conference, we were treated to a very raw and personal performance by Sean McCann. Sharing with us some of the most intimate moments in his life and now in recovery, he credits his work in communicating through music as being essential to his continued clarity and overall well-being.
Like after most conferences or workshops that leave you feeling inspired, I can’t wait to discover more, implement what I’ve learned, and appreciate music, especially in care, so much more.