Dimensions of Music Care 10: Programming

by Sarah Pearson

In this final instalment of this blog series on the Ten Dimensions of Music Care Programming, we touch upon a dimension that is ripe with potential.  Music can enhance recreational, educational and therapeutic programming in ways that are both obvious and subtle. In formal music programs, like singing groups, music appreciation clubs, and bell choirs, music is the centre focus. Music can also compliment programs that aren’t inherently music-focused – such as using music in gait therapy, or adding a musical component to a support group.

There are two main components for successfully bringing music into care programs:

  1. Skill: many music programs don’t require much skill at all, whereas some require advanced music or caregiver skills.
  2. Imagination: just thinking up the possibilities for music in the first place is itself critical, wonderful, and daunting if you are charting new territory!

This video went viral several years ago on YouTube. It features a group of seniors in an Ontario retirement community performing a lip-dub music video to the song Call Me Maybe. The skills it required were organizational and technical – no one had to master any musical instrument, they just had to plan out the video and be able to edit it (no small feat!). The imagination that went into the idea is truly brilliant. This project a) created a community-driven project that involved seniors and staff towards a common goal, b) promoted intergenerationalism by using a contemporary pop song, and c) inspired people around the world by showing a lighter side of life as an older adult in a care home.

What skills do you have to enhance your care programs with music, and better yet, what corners of your imagination are you willing to explore to dream up new ideas?

Sarah Pearson is a music therapist working in oncology and palliative care in Kitchener, ON. She is the Program Development Lead for the Room 217 Foundation and Lead Facilitator of the Music Care Training program.