If you build it, they will hear the mu­sic

Teacher brings ther­apy pro­gram and lots of en­ergy to Hamil­ton

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - JEFF MA­HONEY jma­honey@thes­pec.com 905-526-3306

I had a sus­pi­cion when I first met Rachael Fin­nerty, in 2010, soon af­ter her ar­rival here, that she just might set this city on its ear and set the ears of this city (and be­yond) on to mu­sic ther­apy.

She did both of those things, and now thanks to Rachael and a col­league of hers, Hamil­ton is home to Canada’s first mu­sic ther­apy academy.

It prom­ises to draw peo­ple in from all over, for work­shops, sym­posia, re­search and pro­fes­sional con­tact and de­vel­op­ment.

Rachael and her fam­ily ar­rived here in 2007 via ... you guessed it, Toronto ... (they’re among our best steals from that city) and I’m tempted to say, look­ing back, they seemed al­most an ad­vance party for the enor­mous in­flux that fol­lowed.

She and hus­band Drew Hauser, an ar­chi­tect, bought a build­ing on King East, fixed it up beau­ti­fully and turned it into a mu­sic ther­apy treat­ment cen­tre. I met her when it opened.

She got sold on Hamil­ton when she came through, do­ing mu­sic ther­apy con­tracts for places like St. Peter’s Long Term Care Cen­tre and Hamil­ton Con­ser­va­tory of the Arts.

The quick­en­ing cul­tural vi­brancy here at the time was a pow­er­ful draw, she be­ing a mu­sic ther­a­pist. Now she is adding, again, to that rich­ness, start­ing (with Miya Ad­out) the On­tario Mu­sic Ther­apy Academy, the first of its kind in Canada.

“This re­ally fills a gap,” says Rachael, of the Cana­dian mu­sic ther­apy scene.

Mu­sic ther­apy is a grow­ing in­ter­dis­ci­plinary field that rec­og­nizes the value of mu­sic — its struc­tures, phys­i­cal­ity, emo­tional as­so­ci­a­tions and cog­ni­tive util­ity — as a way of help­ing client’s im­prove both phys­i­cal, men­tal and emo­tional health.

Mu­sic ther­apy has been used with Alzheimer’s, autism, brain in­jury, sub­stance abuse, de­pres­sion, learn­ing dis­abil­ity and much else. It’s taught at sev­eral Cana­dian uni­ver­si­ties.

The work of the new academy re­ally be­gins in Septem­ber when they hold the first of 12 work­shops al­ready planned out. The work­shops will take place at the McMaster Univer­sity Cen­tre for Con­tin­u­ing Ed­u­ca­tion, in Jack­son Square, and in Toronto.

As it hap­pens, the new con­tin­u­ing ed­u­ca­tion cen­tre — the one that ac­counts for Jack­son Square now hav­ing a big McMaster Univer­sity sign on top of it — was de­signed by Rachael’s hus­band Drew. A few years af­ter mov­ing to Hamil­ton he liked it so much he re­lo­cated his ar­chi­tec­ture ca­reer here and now works at McCal­lum Sather.

In a few short years the two of them — Rachael and Drew — have had a hand in much that’s con­trib­uted to the gath­er­ing mo­men­tum of this city. Astrid Hep­ner’s An In­stru­ment For Ev­ery Child; the new Dun­das Mu­seum & Ar­chives build­ing (a Drew Hauser project); and 541 Eatery & Ex­change on Bar­ton East.

And now the new academy. Some of the im­pe­tus for it has been the suc­cess of Rachael’s mu­sic ther­apy course at McMaster Univer­sity. She started the course in 2010, the year she got here, with spa­ces for 50, not know­ing if it would fly.

“When Fer­mata opened, I had many inquiries from McMaster stu­dents about mu­sic ther­apy,” says Rachael. Of­fer­ing a course seemed a nat­u­ral next step.

She has since sold Fer­mata, but the course did fly, from the start — with an ini­tial com­ple­ment of 36 stu­dents in 2010 — and now it is soar­ing. There are spa­ces for 400, all filled; and there’s a wait list.

“Hamil­ton has been an amaz­ing city to be in as a mu­sic ther­a­pist as both the health/re­search and arts scene are be­com­ing the ‘face’ of Hamil­ton,” Rachael says.

In rec­og­niz­ing this, the On­tario Mu­sic Ther­apy Academy just had to be based in Hamil­ton, she says.

Miya Ad­out, the co-founder, took Rachael’s In­tro­duc­tion to Mu­sic Ther­apy course in 2012, went on to a Master of Mu­sic Ther­apy at Con­cor­dia Univer­sity and has a suc­cess­ful prac­tice of her own now.

They kept in touch and when Rachael offhand­edly men­tioned the idea of an academy, Miya was all over it. “This (such an academy) is my dream!” she told Rachael. And now it’s com­ing to pass.

An­other spot of bright healthy plumage in Hamil­ton’s in­creas­ingly colour­ful cap. For more, mu­sic­ther­a­py­a­cademy.com.

Hamil­ton has been an amaz­ing city to be in as a mu­sic ther­a­pist as both the health/re­search and arts scene are be­com­ing the ‘face’ of Hamil­ton.

RACHAEL FIN­NERTY

SUP­PLIED PHOTO

Rachael Fin­nerty, left, sees Hamil­ton as an ideal fit for the On­tario Mu­sic Ther­apy Academy.

SUP­PLIED PHOTO

Miya Ad­out, above, is the co-founder of the On­tario Mu­sic Ther­apy Academy.

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