Music touches us in so many ways – evoking emotions, memories, even physical reactions.
And it has the power to heal, says Chris Brandt. He’s the executive director with the charity Music Heals, which works to raise money and awareness for music therapy programs.
What’s music therapy? The use of music for the clinical goal of restoring and maintaining mental, emotional, and physical health.
Brandt says it has proven applications from pain control in the hospital bed, to helping kids in palliative care, to connecting with people on the autism spectrum or battling dementia.
“Everyone gets that music makes you run faster, and work out harder at the gym, and trigger memories back to the first dates and funerals and things like that. The therapeutic setting is that it can teach people to walk, it can teach people short term memory, long term memory, hand eye coordination.”
Brandt says part of music’s power is that it is non verbal – meaning it can be used to speak to anyone, from toddlers in BC Children’s hospital, to seniors with advanced Alzheimer’s.
The problem? There are only about 100 registered music therapists in BC, and they’re not funded by the government.
While Brandt says the long term goal would be to see it prescribed by a doctor as a part of the medical system, for now it’s about raising enough money to make sure it’s accessible to those who need it most.
How to help
This year, they’re trying to close the final $35,000 gap with their first ever holiday fundraiser: the 12 days of music.
It’s a simple idea – donate $50, and you’ll buy an hour of music therapy for someone who needs it. In exchange, you get a tax receipt, and chance to win that day’s music related prize.
Those go from tickets to see Trooper at the Hard Rock Casino, to Roland music equipment, to vinyl from Red Cat records.
“We wanted to make people feel better about the money they’re already giving. So that’s why we’re doing these music prizes. the first couple of ones, you might be able to give them away in time for Christmas. The rest – for any music fan, it’s something for you hopefully in return for you giving the gift of music to somebody else.”
The event runs from December 13th-24th, with 100% of proceeds going to pay for time with a music therapist.
LISTEN: Chris Brandt explains how music therapy works and why they’re doing 12 Days of Music