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  • Speaker 1: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you all for coming out. Today, our program

  • is Music Therapy and Aging, and we're very lucky to have with us Chrissy Pearson from

  • the Baycrest Center. She has a Bachelor of Music Therapy, is a registered psychotherapist,

  • and a fellow of the Association of Music and Imagery. She received a Bachelors of Music

  • Therapy from the University of Windsor in 2002, interned at Sunnybrook Health Sciences

  • Centre in Aging and Veteran Care, and she has worked in various settings, including

  • long-term care, palliative care, acute care, adult group homes and schools. And in addition

  • to practising traditional music therapy, Chrissy is a fellow of the Association of Music and

  • Imagery, and practice guided imagery and music as well. And currently works at Baycrest as

  • well as in the Music Therapy Center, so it should be quite a fascinating program. And

  • here's Chrissy Pearson.

  • [applause]

  • CP: Thank you so much, Greg, and thanks for having me here. I don't know if you can see

  • me over this, I'm not very tall, but I am back here. And we're getting beep, beep, beep.

  • Here we go. I'll just use the keypad. So I'm here to talk to you today about music therapy,

  • and specifically music therapy and aging. Here's a little bit of an overview. So I'm

  • gonna tell you a little bit about myself and why I'm even interested in this field and

  • how I came to the field. I'll give you a short explanation about what exactly music therapy

  • is. I'm gonna talk about music therapy and dementia, as well as music therapy for caregivers,

  • and also music therapy for what I'll call "normal aging", I'm not sure there is such

  • a thing as normal aging. But focusing in those three areas. And we'll talk a little bit about

  • some case examples I'll share with you from clients that I've worked with to give you

  • some examples, and finally, we'll maybe talk a little bit, if we have time, about how you

  • can use music in your day-to-day life just to simply be more wild, no matter what stage

  • in the aging process you're in. So I'll tell you a little bit about my interest. I had

  • a very musical childhood, I... My mother forced me to start piano lessons when I was very

  • young and I hated playing the piano, and she insisted that this was a good skill for me

  • to learn.

  • CP: And when I entered the sixth grade in elementary school, I was fortunate to be in

  • a school that had a music program and I chose to play the flute and I loved playing the

  • flute, and I went home and begged my mother, "Please can I stop with piano lessons and

  • take flute lessons." And fortunately, they said yes, that that would be alright with

  • them, and I started playing the flute and practising the flute with an independent teacher,

  • and in school, and played in all the bands, and did all of those musical things that I

  • was able to do throughout high school.

  • CP: And at the same time, my grandparents were all aging, and two of my grandparents

  • developed different kinds of dementia. And without knowing anything about music therapy,

  • I, especially with my grandfather, would go to his long-term care home and play music

  • with him, and sometimes some of the other residents would come and we'd sing together.

  • It didn't occur to me at the time that that was something even interesting, it was just

  • something that I was doing. And as it got time for me to graduate high school, I was

  • thinking about, "What am I gonna do and what do I want to study?" I was interested in clinical

  • psychology and thought, "Okay, I'm gonna go to university and study psychology or maybe

  • I'll study social work."

  • CP: I wanted to work with people, and my mom, who was a guidance counsellor, came to me

  • and said, "Look at this really neat program, it's called Music Therapy." And it sort of

  • beautifully blended my love of music with my desire to help people, and that's sort

  • of what got me to that place. In terms of the other thing that really made this click

  • for me, was just my own sort of life philosophy that no matter who we are, no matter what

  • our challenges are, what our abilities are, if we're living independently or needing support,

  • that we all have a right to live in a way that I would call well. We deserve to live

  • well, we deserve to have the resources that can help us to live well, and I really believe

  • music therapy, as a profession, is something that can help people to achieve that. And

  • being well is defined differently depending on who we are, and as we go through today's

  • presentation, you may see yourself in the presentation or other people from your family

  • that you love and care for, and how you feel about wellness might be different than the

  • next person, so I encourage you to sort of keep your own values in mind and your own

  • philosophy around what it means to be well as we go through the process of aging. What's

  • the saying? It's not how long we live, it's how how well we live, and that's sort of the

  • philosophy that guides me.

  • CP: So we'll talk a bit about music therapy. What is it? To become a music therapist, some

  • people are always surprised when I say to them, "I have a Bachelor of Music Therapy."

  • There's a degree that you take to become a music therapist. The degree involves being

  • part of the music department, part of the psychology department, and part of the music

  • therapy department. So it's three areas that you study, lots of practicum experience because

  • we are trained to work with lots of different kinds of people. So not just people who are

  • aging or have challenges related to aging, we work with many different kinds of people,

  • and our education prepares us for that.

  • CP: After we graduate, we do a 1,000 hours supervised internship that is within an area

  • that really interests us, and followed by a certification process. So once we've received

  • the certification, we can confidently say that we're ready to practice music therapy.

  • In Canada, there's five schools only that offer the training program. If you're interested

  • in the training program, I can... You can e-mail me and I can send you lots of information

  • about that. So the Canadian Association for Music Therapy, that's our national governing

  • body. They're the ones who set out all the expectations for education.

  • CP: They set out our code of ethics, our standards of practice. They oversee all the certification,

  • they make sure that our membership is up-to-date and that we've been continuing our education

  • so that their members are professionally competent across the country and practising appropriately.

  • And areas and scope of practice, I'm not gonna talk a lot about this because I could talk

  • about it for hours. Essentially anyone who could use music... Sorry, rather anyone who

  • could use therapy could work with a music therapist.

  • CP: So whether it's a teenager in a youth program who's suffering with depression or

  • a person in long-term care who has dementia, a child in palliative care who's dying of

  • cancer, no matter who you are or what you're trying to cope with, probably a music therapist

  • could help you work toward some of the goals that you're trying to achieve. The goals could

  • be behavioural in nature, so, for example, trying to stop a difficult behaviour for someone

  • who's in the later stages of dementia. It could be social in nature, so for children

  • with autism, helping them to be able to integrate and interact with each other. It could be

  • psychosocial in nature, so people who have maybe had trauma in their lives and working

  • through those traumas and helping them to understand them and work through them in an

  • easier way.

  • CP: The goals could be about communication, so very physical goals of regaining speech

  • and the ability to speak. It could be self-expression. There are sometimes musical goals as well,

  • sometimes we work with people who are coming to us to actually work on something that is

  • musical in their life. But generally, it's not really about the music at all, it's about

  • what we're trying to achieve with the music. And that's something that some people struggle

  • with, they think they have to be musical to benefit from music therapy and it's actually

  • the opposite.

  • CP: I find the people who are, let's say, less professionally musical are often more

  • open to participating in music therapy. So, no experience required to benefit. So, what

  • does music therapy look like? Again, it looks different depending on who you're working

  • with. Obviously, working with a street youth looks completely different than working with

  • someone who's dying in palliative care, and what we are trying to do is to use music and

  • to use musical elements in a way that meets the person's needs. So today we're gonna be

  • focusing on aging, we're gonna talk a bit about dementia, we're gonna talk about music

  • and the brain. What I'd like you to take away from this as well is that music therapy really

  • spans all ages, all abilities, all different challenges that you might face in life.

  • CP: And if you want more information about music therapy with different kinds of people,

  • that's something... I do have a handout if you want more information that you can take

  • with you before you go, and certainly, you can look some things up or contact me and

  • I'd be happy to tell you more about the different kinds of people we work with and what that

  • would look like.

  • CP: Okay. Oh, the one thing I forgot to mention: When we're talking about what music therapy

  • looks like, I often have people who are musicians or entertainers who say, "Oh, yes, I do music

  • therapy," and so, I always like to explain the difference between music entertainment

  • and music therapy. Entertainment, I'm gonna say, most of the time is very therapeutic,

  • and the therapeutic value in going to a concert or the therapeutic value in having someone

  • sing for you or being part of a choir, all of those things are very therapeutic. What

  • makes music therapy different is just the therapist, that you're working with someone

  • toward specific goals, you're working with them continuously to help progress through

  • some goals or to help achieve a sort of level of wellness that you're not able to achieve

  • without it, and that, that sort of defines the entertainer from the therapist. But I

  • always tell the entertainers, "You're not wrong, you're just not a therapist."

  • CP: So yes, what you're doing is absolutely valuable and probably therapeutic for many

  • of the people who are coming to listen to your music and to interact with your music,

  • maybe dance and move to your music. That can be a beautiful, therapeutic thing, and music

  • therapy is what we're gonna talk about today, which takes it to a different level.

  • CP: So music in the brain is something that is being talked about in the media all the

  • time right now. I'm very, very sure that most of you have, have heard about some of the

  • interesting stories. What comes to mind right now is Gabby Giffords in the US when she was

  • shot, part of her recovery was working with a music therapist to regain her ability to

  • speak. Stories like that are everywhere right now and getting lots of attention, which is

  • really exciting for music therapists because it's been a long time of trying to educate

  • people about how this all works.

  • CP: And as we age, no matter what challenges we face, our brains are gonna change. That's

  • just what happens are... From the time that our brains are developing to the time that

  • we leave this earth, our brains are constantly changing, and as we age, the changing starts

  • to happen faster and in different ways.

  • CP: And sometimes that involves additional challenges, whether it's a memory loss or

  • physical ability that we lose. All of those things are going to happen no matter how deep

  • the challenge. We're probably gonna encounter something. And now that we have all of this

  • research that talks about the brain, we really understand why music therapy is so effective

  • and we can thank MRI machines and all the other scanning machines out there that look

  • at what's happening when we... Not only when we listen to music, but when we participate

  • in music and when we're working with a music therapist.

  • CP: So it's neat, they can see the difference between putting a CD on and listening to the

  • music versus singing along to the music or moving our bodies to the music versus sitting

  • with a music therapist and working through something musically. The scans all look different,

  • but what does look the same is that music is everywhere in our brain. It used to be

  • that people thought... Not people, researchers, scientists thought that music had a place

  • in our brain, much like speech has a place, much like movement or memories or emotions.

  • A lot of things have specific areas of the brain and if that area gets damaged, then

  • that skill gets damaged or that ability is damaged. What makes music so effective is

  • that it is literally everywhere in our brain.

  • CP: So when we're listening to music, lots of different areas light up. When we're participating

  • in music, even more areas of the brain light up. And that's why, especially as we age and

  • have challenges with memory or have challenges with speech or have challenges with movement