Music Therapy is a powerful but simple tool and places like Sidney’s Resthaven Lodge are putting it to good use with their residents.
“Music Therapy is so important because is helps our residents in so many ways,” said Myrna Fox, the activities coordinator at Resthaven.
“It builds their self esteem, it helps them to feel like are they contributing, it keeps them involved and it helps them integrate with other residents.”
The program at Resthaven includes things like playing the ukulele, singing and screening presentations of operas, musicals and other performances.
Katherine Dennison, who is one of the Music Therapists at Resthaven (she runs the ukulele program) said the participants in her class benefit in many ways, including learning a new skill as a group.
“Some of the folks here have musical backgrounds but others don’t, but the one common link they all have is learning and playing the ukulele together. Teaching a new skill sort of flies in the face of the old adage that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but it works for us,” she said.
Dennison said the ukulele classes also provide the participants with a stimulating activity, companionship and the feeling that they are providing or giving back to the community at Resthaven.
“We do regular concerts for the other residents which is a wonderful way for the residents in the music therapy class to give back,” she said.
“We’ve also found that for some residents who have lost the ability to verbalize, music can be an amazing beacon. We’ll notice that a non-verbal or physically unresponsive resident may be able to sing along or tap their toes with the music.”
Isabel Moore, a Resthaven resident, said she enjoys the classes because she used to take music classes when she was younger.
“It reminds me of when I was a girl and I used to take piano lessons,” she said.
Another resident, Marie Soutter, said she enjoys the companionship the classes provide.
Overall, Fox said the basis for providing Music Therapy classes at Resthaven are for the resident’s enjoyment.
“It’s such an important program in so many ways, but most of all it gets our residents together to enjoy something fun.”