Music Care Concerts and Educational Presentations
Music Care is the Room 217 Foundation's educational program, through which we train caregivers in the therapeutic use of music. Currently, there are three formats: concerts, educational presentations and conferences.
Music for life's journey™ Concert
excellent for conference plenary, keynote, special feature or fundraiser
Music for life's journey™Concert is a dynamic choice for your next gathering. Best presented as a plenary or special feature, it is a unique listening and interactive experience. Expect to laugh, cry, reminisce and be inspired to integrate music into your program. Bev Foster's unique combination of song, story-telling, piano and vocal skill will make for an unforgettable event for your participants. The Concert is an excellent fundraising option for your organization. As a ticketed event, it can be customized to suit the needs of the benefiting group.
Room 217 Educational Presentations
excellent for conference workshop, inservice and educational forums
Music Care educational presentations are a series of timely, informative and evidence-based presentations suitable for health care professionals, volunteers and family members, chaplains, pastoral teams, palliative care support groups, nursing and personal support worker agencies, hospice associations, long term care and nursing home staff, seniors’ groups, faith groups and community service organizations. Music Care Educational Presentations can be customized to an appropriate length and are punctuated with live musical excerpts.
Topics may be chosen from the themes below.
Special Offer: As a special bonus for conferences, Bev is available to play at a reception or evening event in addition to the speaking engagement. Bev is a gifted musician who can perform a variety of musical selections tailored to your function from classical to pop, from hymns to Celtic, from Broadway to Beatles.
Music Care Topics and Themes
8 New Educational and Interactive Workshops!
- Music Care: Musical Approaches in Caring Communities - developing an ethos of music care
- Sounds of Music in Palliative Care - supporting people who are dying adn their loved ones with music
- Unforgettable - music, memory and meaning
- When I'm 64 - aging well with music
- Breathtaking - mindful breathing in music care
- Playlist - re-creating your life story through music
- The Sounds of Music - the science of sound and music as it relates to music care
- Heartbeat - music, moods and emotions
I think I should have no other mortal wants if I could always have plenty of music. It seems to infuse strength into my limbs and ideas into my brain. Life seems to go on without effort, when I am filled with music.
George Eliot (1819-1880)
Music is one of the great art forms. It companions us along the journey of life and its effects can bring depth to experience and enhance wellbeing. It is associated with the people, places, events and feelings we experience each day and through the years. The effects of music can invigorate or calm us, excite and persuade us, call us to arms, inspire us and lift our spirits.
Music is one of the great art forms and art of any kind is a conscious use of skill, experience, judgment and creative imagination. Music is ubiquitous. It permeates culture and has for thousands of years. Music is a powerful art form because of its accessibility. Technology has made music, of any genre, accessible. Regardless of technology, we all have a built in instrument: the voice. Music reaches into every domain and has a transcendent capacity. Each live performance of music is unique even when it has been performed hundreds of times before. Every new offering is a fresh moment in time and space.
There are some influences that shape the meaning of artistic experience. Perception is about how you view something, how you take in your surroundings both with your senses and with ideas. Perception can be influenced by eyesight, sense of hearing, spatial proximity and sense of processing. Preference is a preferred option, a greater liking or tendency to choose one thing rather than another. Experience influences preference. Culture, that is, the traditions, beliefs and patterns of behavior that you have grown up within may influence your experience of art. Education is part of culture and certainly the more we know about something, the more informed our choices can be. Mood can also shape our experience of art; this interaction is complimentary. Music as art has the capacity to influence and alter your mood. For references and further information visit our Bibliography.
My heart which is so full to overflowing, has often been solaced and refreshed by music when sick and weary.
Martin Luther (1483-1546)
There are a number of approaches for musical use in health care settings. Any approach relies on the inherent therapeutic possibilites of music to relieve stress, pain and promote well-being. While we often think of music being played in a concert hall, or on the radio or in a classroom, music as therapy is strong. The therapeutic use of music is not new. There are historical accounts of music being used therapeutically over the centuries. In the biblical account of David & Saul, David played his harp for King Saul to lift him out of his depression. In the Ancient Greek culture, Apollo was the god of music and medicine and he used music to drive out disease and return a person to a state of harmony and order. Alexander the Great was restored to sanity by the music of a lyre. Buddhist monks have been singing healing chants for over 2000 years. In 11th century France, “infirmary music” was used by nurses in care for the dying.
There are a number of approaches for musical use in the healthcare setting. Any approach relies on the inherent therapeutic possibilities of music to relieve stress and pain and promote well-being. Each one has distinguishing features.Music therapy involves a therapeutic process, a music therapist, and a relationship that develops through music and the process. Both the music and the therapeutic relationship serve as healing components. In music therapy there is a definable process with clinical goals and outcomes for every session. Music medicine is music used by medical personnel and allied health professionals as an adjunct to various medical treatments or situations. Examples of music medicine interventions include background music in waiting rooms or other areas or vibroacoustic therapy before surgery. Performing Arts medicine is the study and treatment of performance-related medical and psychological problems. For example, tendonitis is a common inflammation for musicians. Repetitive motion day after day for pianists and string players is an occupational hazard. Nodes and other inflammations of the vocal chords would be a common threat to singers. Programmes involving music may be developed by recreational therapists or chaplains or volunteers. The outcomes are often psychosocial and provide an opportunity for the healthcare institution to interface with the community at large.
Music has the capacity to appeal to the whole person and reach into every domain. Music making seems to activate and synchronize neural firing patterns that orchestrate and connect multiple cognitive brain sites. Music may activate areas in our brain most involved in emotional intelligence. Music has the capacity to surface and even unlock feelings that have been buried or traumatized. Music enhances social interaction. The presence of music favors greater person to person interactions and offers participation and engagement. Music may be used to increase attention and focus and regulate behaviors. Music may influence our muscle control and physical strength. Many trainers now use music combined with visualization to regulate movement and report reduced stress, increased focus and better performance times. Music offers intellectual stimulation, order and structure. The transcendent nature of music reaches into the unseen spiritual depths and may bring refreshment, calm, peace.
Music has the power to heal. Music therapist Dr. Deforia Lane says that 30 minutes of a music therapy session can boost the immune function and increase salivary IgA. Studies show that music has the potential to alter moods through lowered heart rate, and decrease the level of the stress hormone cortisol. Music is used as a mood enhancer and regulator. Soothing music may reduce stress and anxiety. This is important because we know that both our immune system and memory is negatively impacted by chronic elevated stress levels. Researchers speculate that excess noise can raise blood pressure by 10%. Depending on the music you choose, music can calm you down or perk you up. Music can impact nearly any kind of blood flow response desired. Respiration is affected by music. Deeper, slower breaths per minute contribute to calmness, emotional control and better metabolism.
Music has spiritual power. According to Helen Bonny a well respected music therapist and creator of the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music (GIM) a psychotherapeutic programme using classical music, music can enhance our present life, enrich it and lead it in fulfilling directions. Music may uncover the depths of our inner person. It may also serve transcendentally and lift our spirits beyond our flesh.
There is an intrinsic quality about music that is social and to be shared. The fact that music is most often performed together in ensembles like bands, choirs and orchestras underlies this musical dynamic. Music is about relationship: among the performers, composers, audience.
Music can bring a sense of belonging especially if you are part of the ensemble. This may provide identity not just as a group but also as an individual and may provide meaning and purpose. The sense of contribution may bring empowerment and even ownership as an individual learns to take responsibility for their part in the music making. The structural nature of music may provide order in disrupted thinking. Music can also provide structure to routines by signaling when something begins or ends or signaling seasonal celebrations. Music provides a sense of enjoyment and enhances life. Listening or actively music-making, you can become more aware of feelings. The familiarity and comfort music offers may ease difficult transitions and support integration into new situations. For references and further information visit our Bibliography.
Songs are our connections to life. They connect us to our inner world; they bring us closer to others; they keep us company when we are alone. They articulate our beliefs and reaffirm our values. They arouse, they accompany and they release. And as the years pass, our songs bear witness to our lives and give voice to our experiences. They rekindle the past, reflect the present and project the future. Songs weave tales of our joys and sorrow; they express our dreams and disappointments, our fears and triumphs. They are our musical diaries, our life stories. They are the sounds of our development.
Kenneth Bruscia 1989
The healing power of music may bring soothing relief and support to both those who are requiring care and those who offer it. When a loved one or family member gets sick, caregiving becomes a priority. Sometimes, people have to take time off work or even take a leave of absence. The responsibilities become profound—it may even become a full time job for a time. Caregiving may be a chosen profession; the demands, nevertheless may be intense and exhausting. Music may have reciprocal benefit both to the patient and the caregiver
Music is a valuable resource in giving care to those who are sick. Music is a supportive resource. The associations made with music help with reminiscence and self-expression. Music provides background sounds and ambiance in a room that may be sterile or noisy. The interpersonal connection around a song can be strong and lasting. With support, there can be psychosocial benefits. Music can bring soothing relief. Music can affect perceived pain. It may provide a distraction, give the patient a sense of control and may help in relaxation. Slow placed music set at approximately 60 beats per minute stimulates Alpha state, the state of calm and can lessen heart rate and ease agitated breathing. Music can bring spiritual encouragement. A song may offer courage or peacefulness. It may bring comfort and help us to think about true things. Music may help us rise above pain or discomfort. Music can bring care to the caregiver (family, volunteer or professional). Music may provide emotional and spiritual preparation to ease transitions. Song lyrics may help put words around feelings. Music may bring relaxation for deep breathing and de-stressing.
Music may be used therapeutically with specific illnesses. Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and Dementia: Music may give meaning to the environment when other experiences are not understandable. Strokes: Rehabilitation in people who have had strokes can begin as soon as the person is medically stable. Music may restore physical functioning, socialization and emotional well-being in time. Parkinson’s: Music therapy has shown gait improvement in Parkinson’s patients according to a study by Dr. Michael Thaut.
Mood Disorders and Depression: Using music wisely and supportively can help people put words around what they may be feeling. Music may shift a person’s outlook. For references and further information visit our Bibliography.
Death is the one instance in which a picture does not say a thousand words, for in death it is not the disability or disfigurement, but the caresses, the gazes, the meticulous physical tending, the spiritual discoveries and the private emotions—spoken and unspoken—that truly convey what is happening. In the end, it is not the act of dying, but all those final moments of living, that are truly important.
Music may be most powerful at end of life. The capacity music has to connect, communicate and companion makes it a peaceful presence for those facing an end of life journey. When we are overcome by grief and sorrow, music offers solace.
Death is another life passage where music can accompany us. In fact it may be most effective during the end of life journey. Relationship completion is a significant part of dying. Palliative doctor, Ira Byock states there are five sentiments that permit relationships to reach completion once they are expressed. These are “I love you”, “thank you”, “forgive me”, “I forgive you” and “good-bye”. Songs can convey these messages more powerfully and completely than words alone. Throughout the ages, songs have been important vehicles for the expression of the deepest human feelings. While the use of sacred songs has reflected the spiritual dimension, it is popular songs that reflect the everyday sentiments of everlasting love, missing a partner, cherishing a friend and gratitude for all that has happened. Songs may help express these five sentiments and be helpful in relationship completion.
There are a number of reasons why music is now being recognized as a complementary treatment in palliation and why music therapists are part of the palliative team. Non-pharmacological strategies like music therapy promote relief in pain and symptom management. Music is used to promote relaxation, to reduce anxiety and to supplement other pain control methods. A terminal illness highlights every psychological dynamic in the person’s life—dysfunctional patterns of behavior, unhealed emotional wounds, troubling relationships and unfulfilled dreams. Music may facilitate accessibility into unresolved aspects of the person’s life. Reminiscence through songs provides life review.
Music may help people cope with loss of control. Songwriting and improvisation may give a sense of empowerment. Music can assist in release and closure by providing hope and dignity.
Introducing music in end of life must first come from a place of love and trust. Each death is unique and there are no formulas or guaranteed outcomes when using music.
Assess: Does the patient have a preference to a certain style of music like country or classical or steel drum? Ask. “Would you like to listen to…?” Or, you might say something like “Here is something that may help you sleep.” Or, “I have found this music very relaxing”. Be sensitive. Music is evocative and for a number of reasons, it may be difficult for a family member to hear a song that surfaces very personal and sometimes private memories or feelings. For references and further information visit our Bibliography.
For the human heart and mind, music is a gift that brings hope and comfort through even the darkest times. In the midnight hour of the soul, when we feel most besieged by grief and alone in sorrow, music offers solace in the recognition that, although the rhythms of our lives fluctuate between joy and despair, the song remains.
Albert Lee Strickland
Music has a capacity to uncover our personal depths and pour completely into the crevices of our unknowns. It reinforces our values and beliefs.
Music can deepen us spiritually because it explores and may even uncover our personal depths. We may perceive ourselves and situations in ways that we don’t normally see them. Music satisfies the senses and emotional need. It may open the door to feelings of safety and greater spiritual experience. Music suggests meditative or quiet states. Music may provide a venue for adoration and worship, an important aspect of spiritual life. The structure of music itself lends itself to forgiveness and conflict resolution. Well designed music has a theme which develops suggestive of conflict and then resolves with a new perspective.
Music has a transcendent capacity. When we listen to soulful music or when we play soulful music, our inner existence immediately climbs up high and enters into something beyond. Music has been called the language of heaven.
In the context of mourning, songs take on the nature of lament, mourning the dead. Certain songs bring to mind memories that refresh our grief. The associative strength of melody may connect us to moments spent with our loved one, including the sounds, smells and feelings surrounding them. Musical lamentation may provide an emotional release for the bereaved. Music can help thaw and awaken paralyzed places and inspire us to begin living. Their may be heightened awareness to the lyrical themes which start us thinking about our own mortality. The strong connective, spiritual nature of music may keep us feeling close to our loved one over time. For references and further information visit our Bibliography.
Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons and you will find it is to the soul what the water bath is to the body.
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Music has a symbiotic relationship with the body. The body can adapt to the music we hear and the body may influence how music is perceived. When the elements of music are applied appropriately to meet certain goals, the limbic system (emotional centre of the body) receives information which can adjust the physiologic system. Music is one of the most viable resources for putting the body at ease.
The limbic system is made up of a group of interconnected neural structures arranged in border-like fashion at the top of the brainstem surrounding the midline surfaces of the cerebral hemispheres. This system concerns itself with homeostatic processes of body temperature, heart rate, respiration rate, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, acid-base balance, sleep/wake cycles and fight-or-flight survival instincts. This system also moderates survival behaviors like thirst/hunger reflexes, sexual fulfillment drives, competition. Music, in particular melody, appeals to the limbic system. Music is nonverbal so it can move through the brain's auditory cortex directly to the center of the limbic system. It may be used to calm down sensory input and dispel fears. It may also stimulate the senses and fire up activity. Music provides an environment of excitability or reassurance.
It is also this system that tags information for storage (hippocampus). When we hear music, our brains try to make an association through whatever visual, auditory and other sensory cues accompany it. We try to contextualize the sounds into our schema and eventually, we create memory links between a particular set of notes and a particular place, time or set of events. Music becomes cross-coded with the events of our lives. That is why music easily triggers associations. Hearing a melody years after an event takes place may "re-member" the neurological links or groupings and surface memories.
Music engages the auditory system (hearing) which is a vital connection to the vestibular system (balance, movement). Rhythm is a stimulus that instigates movement and can help integrate and organize the sensory system. Many experts suggest that it is the thythm of the music or the beat that has the calming effect on us although we may not be very conscious about it. Rhythm is the most important musical element that the body detects, attends to, and resonates with through neural entrainment. Entrainment is the rhythmic manifestation of resonance. With entrainment, a stronger external pulse does not just activate another pulse but actually causes the latter to move out of its own resonant frequency to match it. Music alters the performance of the nervous system primarily because of entrainment.Furthermore, electromyographic (EMG) studies of the electrical activity of muscle function show that auditroy cues can arouse and raise the excitability of spinal motor neurons. For example when you listen to a fast beat song, many times your foot will start to beat automatically in rhythm to that beat and then your heartbeat will follow. Music therapist Dorita Berger claims that internalizing rhythms through marching, beating a drum or tambourine will assist in body coordination, proprioceptive-tactile feedback and motor planning. Listening for rhythmic changes may bring about auditory focus, tracking, sound tolerance and depth perception.
There is sufficient evidence that music influeces the cardiovascular and respiratory systems and reduces anxiety, heart and respiratory rates. One study took forty patients who had recently suffered hear attacks and exposed them to "relaxing music" Results indicated that heart rate, respiratory rate and measurable states of anxiety were significantly reduced. Another study reported systolic blood pressure was significantly reduced in nine subjects who listened to music at 55 beats per second. Still another study reported that among patients who had been recently admitted to a coronary care unit after suffering heart attacks and exposed to music for 2 days had fewer complications than those who were not.
Studies also suggest that soothing music can affect stress and anxiety and influence our immune system. When the brain attends music and the auditory input is "safe", neurotransmitters such as dopamine and sedating chemicals that calm and minimize systemic excitability are discharged. Whether it is the direct effect of the music or the effect of distraction, the person may momentarily forget her fear and anxiety. For references and further information visit our Bibliography.
We all develop relationships with music.
Music enhances every stage of life no matter who we are. There is growing evidence of an in-utero response to music. The startle response is created by loud sounds and according to research, even the young life in the womb responds to these sounds. Infants can accurately identify their mother’s voice. Early on there is discrimination of melodic contour. Between ages 1-2 body movement can be incorporated into the music. It is unknown at what age a child’s brain mechanism impacting music perception and cognition are mature. That is why children need high exposure to a wide variety of sounds while the brain is forging neural networks. By age 4 when the brain’s left hemisphere has had time to develop, rhythm games involving sticks, shakers, tambourines and drums may be used. French composer Francois Couperin declared all children should start music by 6 or 7 and will benefit from a lifetime of enhanced interhemispheric brain activity. MRI studies have shown that the fibers in the corpus callosum which connect the left and right brain hemispheres are as much as 15% wider in musicians compared to non-musicians. Between ages 5-9 is a good time to start music lessons. During adolescent and teen years, young people begin to identify their own preferred styles and forms of music. Exposure to a variety of musical genres at concerts begins to open worlds of possibilities.
Most adolescents or adults can become competent on most instruments with sufficient training and practice. The nonmusical benefits like satisfaction, memory, creativity, relaxation and self-discipline may be as great or greater than the musical skills acquired.
For the elderly music might give an overall sense of wellbeing, providing relaxation and reduction of tension. Music can bring balance to an elder’s lifestyle. Music may arouse and bring recreation and leisure. Participating in musical activities whether singing in a choir or attending a concert can provide opportunities for sociability. Music stimulates connection to people and ideas. Music stimulates long-term memory retrieval and can maintain cognition especially if there are lyrics. Music, used with exercise and activities can strengthen extremity responses. Music is an excellent means of reminiscence, verbal communication and life review. For references and further information visit our Bibliography.
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