Music can be a powerful healer for our times
The healing power of music offers consolation, catharsis and therapy
Almost 60 years is a long gap between movie musical manias.
West Side Story came out in 1961. I was 13 years old when I got on the bus and went off to see it in downtown Montreal.
A few hours later, I came home snapping my fingers and wishing I were a Jet all the way. I loved the movie. And so did almost everyone else. West Side Story won 10 Academy Awards, including best picture.
The fourth remake of A Star Is Born did not win that many Oscars. Nominated for eight awards, it won for best song. As it should have. Because after finally watching A Star Is Born a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t get the Lady Gaga-bradley Cooper duet Shallow out of my head.
I’ve seen many great musicals: Cabaret, Fame, Flashdance,
Dirty Dancing — to name just a few. But none had the impact of A Star Is Born.
And I think that’s because of three-plus months of self-isolation. COVID-19 set me up to be blown away by a great — but ultimately sad — musical love story.
It was therapeutic. And Miya Adout knows all about that.
Adout is a 29-year-old Toronto native who has master’s degree in creative arts therapy from Concordia University in Montreal. She is back in her hometown running Miya Music Therapy, a five-year-old therapeutic service catering mainly to seniors, but with a client list that also includes infants.
I began our phone conversation by telling Adout about my unusually emotional reaction to A Star Is Born.
“I’m happy to hear you’ve learned to use music in a therapeutic way in your life, especially in this time,” Adout said. “Many people, for many reasons, find music to be healing while they’re going through a difficult time in their lives, or using music to remember and connect with a loved one.
“People have, for centuries really, used music in a healing manner.”
Adout explained that as a music therapist, she and her team of 10 use the medium “in a purposeful and intentional way” to help people achieve their goals.
My current goal is to get through the current health crisis without going totally bonkers. There are people with more serious issues and the Miya Music Therapy team tackles them.
Dealing mainly with seniors in long-term care and retirement living, Adout said, “we help to stimulate them cognitively and help them toward their communication goals.
“A lot of times, we’re just moving toward emotional expression goals. We’re looking at music to help them express themselves when there are not other means of expression.”
For example, dementia patients who have lost the ability to communicate verbally. Therapy teaches expression through music, bringing isolated people out of their rooms and into communal situations. When I related my own situation, Adout said she’d been “hearing about it quite bit.”
Whew! I’m not a weirdo! “Sometimes we work with people just to reduce their stress and anxiety,” she said, “and find ways they can use music in their daily lives to improve their well-being.
It boosts our mood. There’s a lot of science behind that.”
It works for me. And on that happy note, I’m off to watch A Star Is Born again.
Most of my too-much-time spent on Facebook is devoted to sports and politics, but here’s a recent “Rules for Seniors” list that pertains to my age and state of mind:
1. It’s totally OK to talk to yourself. There are times you need expert advice.
2. “In Style” are the clothes that still fit.
3. You don’t need anger management. You need people to stop pissing you off.
4. The biggest lie you tell yourself is “I don’t need to write that down. I’ll remember it.”
5. Lately, you’ve noticed people your age are so much older than you.
6. Growing old should have taken longer.
7. “One for the road” means peeing before you leave the house.
Many people, for many reasons, find music to be healing while they’re going through a difficult time in their lives ...