Making Music Care History: First MCCP Pilot Level 1 a Resounding Success!

by Sarah Pearson

The Music Care Certificate Program is a new program at Room 217 to help train caregivers in the practical use of music in their care.

Learn more here:    www.room217.ca/music-care-certificate-program

Last weekend, 15 participants and three instructors gathered on the 18th floor of Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, for the inaugural Music Care Certificate Program pilot Level 1. Some had driven 6 hours to be there, others were a subway ride away. People gathered from across disciplines: volunteers, recreation assistants, nurses, music therapists, musicians, family caregivers, mental health workers, administrators, and teachers were just some of the backgrounds represented in our group. We gathered to explore a common goal – to understand how to better use music in our care practices.

The weekend was full of learning. As the curriculum got rolled out for the first time, participants were immersed in new concepts such as entrainment, sound environments, and vocalizing as part of care. Ideas around health-care reform and caregiver burnout were discussed. Fundamentals of music – rhythm, melody and timbre – were explained and workshopped.

The weekend was also full of experience. Listening exercises, breathing and vocal workshops, percussion groups and songwriting projects, were just some of the ways that we delved into the world of music, feeling for ourselves the impact of music on our bodies, souls and communities.

The weekend was full of sharing. Laughter and conversation abounded, new friendships were formed. Participants exchanged stories from their care practices, asked each other questions, and supported one another generously through this packed two-day learning adventure.  Participants shared visions for music care initiatives, dreams for their own personal growth and the growth of their care facilities using music. As the weekend emerged, key concepts sank in. Ideas went from the brainstorming-phase to the proposal-stage.

And the weekend was full of music. Some participants gave brief musical performances, others shared recordings that were meaningful to them, giving us all a deeper insight into each other that only music affords. Group music-making, singing, listening, and improvising – regardless of everyone’s musical background – brought joy and deeper meaning to the weekend. Music brought us moments of reflection, calm, humour, and feeling.

And that is ultimately what brought us together in the first place. We all know that music impacts people in meaningful ways. Understanding how to bring that into caring contexts effectively was the driving force behind the course.

The enthusiasm and excitement generated from this inaugural course is an exciting taste of what’s to come. The hunger for more training in music care has been evident at Room 217 events for years, and with this course we can start to meet that need more directly. And the feedback speaks for itself: participants spoke overwhelmingly about wanting to sign up for the next course levels, and for the rich learning that had just occurred. Practical next steps for integrating music care into practice were solidified. Many participants expressed how much more confident they felt now, going back into their care spaces and bringing more music into their programs.

A big congratulations to our very first graduating class of the MCCP Level 1! We can’t wait to do it again at Tyndale in two weeks, and for many more courses to come.

Here’s what some of the participants said:

  • "A wide range of knowledge, approaches and experience”
  • “I see myself applying this content immediately into my practice”
  • “Has given me lots of new ideas on how to share music appropriately in care settings”
  • “I have become more confident in my voice”
  • “Provided inspiration, ideas, motivation”