Information and Inspiration at Music Care Conferences

by Chelsea Mackinnon

I still remember the first Music Care Conference I attended. I was a graduate student at the University of Toronto, and my supervisor, Dr. Michael Thaut, suggested it would be a valuable day of learning for our Music and Health Sciences cohort. I remember being pleasantly surprised at the very reasonable student discount for the conference, and the ease of the registration process. I remember being blown away at the information that was shared, and the inspiration I felt while surrounded by folks who were equally passionate about doing music in healthcare settings as I was. I remember how accessible and practical the research was – family and formal caregivers, as well as graduate students like me, could all learn the latest and greatest about music in healthcare.

Fast forward four years, here I am, intimately involved in the planning of our upcoming Music Care Conference hosted at the McMaster Innovation Park in Hamilton, ON. This is exciting for me for a couple of reasons. First, we are working alongside the McMaster Institute of Music and the Mind, and the Ontario Music Therapy Academy to bring the conference theme Music Across the Lifespan to fruition. Second, this is the first Music Care Conference hosted in Hamilton, a city whose arts and health scenes are equally booming.

Music has many applications, from brain development in infancy, to pain management in palliative care, and virtually all life stages in between. Whether your focus is on childhood development, elder care, or another life stage, the plenary sessions and workshop choices will ensure that your conference experience is tailored to your specific care practice.

I am particularly excited about one of our plenary sessions this year on intergenerational music making. We will be exploring three different ways that intergenerational music making is implemented in Canadian healthcare contexts. We will discuss the operationalization of these programs, how to measure outcomes, and practical tips for implementing intergenerational music in healthcare and community settings. Intergenerational music making has been a part of many cultures around the world for centuries, and it has gained renewed traction as a research topic in North America over the past decade. Part of what makes intergenerational music making so interesting is the many different ways it can be implemented – in other words, there is no one-size-fits-all program for doing music across the generations. We will hear first-hand from participants and researchers about the nuances of three different intergenerational music experiences.

Over the years, I’ve reflected on what makes the Music Care Conference stand out from all of the other conferences I attend each year. I think I’ve finally pinpointed it – Music Care Conferences are approached by the Room 217 team with the same level of detail and care as any other musical production would be – significant time and energy goes into ensuring that the day is cohesive, inspirational, and informative. When you bring together educators and musicians to plan a conference, something magical happens. I hope to see you there – this conference is not one to miss! 

Registration for Music Care Conference is now open, with early bird pricing in effect until Sept. 30. If you’re a senior or student, you save, too.

Chelsea Mackinnon is Room 217’s Education and Research Manager, and is organizing this year’s Music Care Conference.