Music as a Tool for Health
The HPO is dedicated to increasing awareness of the benefits of music on health and wellbeing. Part of this means recognizing that your relationship with music, just the way it is, is meaningful and powerful. Whether you connect with music by closing your eyes and letting your imagination take flight, or by analyzing brilliant harmonies, or by drumming on your steering wheel, music an be a part of increasing wellness in your life. There is no wrong way to connect with music.
Over the coming months, the HPO will announce workshops and events that bring together music and wellbeing, helping our community better understand and activate their own personal relationship to music as a tool for health.
Recognizing Canadian Mental Health Week
May 6-12, 2019 is Canadian Mental Health Week. Mental health is a complex issue, and the HPO aims to bring awareness of the positive effect of music on one’s sense of psychological wellbeing. Striving for a sense of balance and taking time for oneself can contribute to positive mental health. Engaging in social and creative activities, like spending time with loved ones, making music or enjoying a concert with friends, can leave you feeling rejuvenated and fulfilled.
As part of the HPO’s Wellbeing Initiative, our May 11 mainstage concert Mahler’s Fifth serves as a venue to discuss the impact of music on mental health. At the concert, we welcome colleagues from the mental health and healthcare sectors to attend the concert free of charge.
Additionally, we aim to challenge the idea that artists, musicians and composers need to suffer in order to create great music and art. On the contrary, research shows that this conception has a negative health impact on people who work in creative fields. In fact, more access to things that support mental health actually increase the creativity of artists.
Just like we all have a relationship with music, we all have a relationship with mental health. If we invest in the arts, and if we invest in mental health, we lift up the creativity and sense of community and connection for all.
Hearing Loss Study with McMaster University’s LIVELab
We have partnered with McMaster University’s LIVELab to improve the concert experience for people with hearing loss. Hearing aids are an important tool for those with hearing loss, but they are often not optimized for music listening and playing. Music listening can be a frustrating experience for hearing aid users.
On the May 11 mainstage concert, Mahler’s Fifth, the LIVELab is conducting a study during the performance and evaluating current systems for assisting people with hearing loss in a concert setting. Participants have been fitted with special hearing aids within hearing loop technology.
We look forward to learning the results of this study and learning about how we can better support patrons at the HPO.
Combatting social isolation is one of the HPO’s priority areas as part of our Wellbeing Initiative. In the 18-19 Season, we launched Seniors Connect, a program designed to offer isolated seniors the opportunity to experience mainstage concerts in a welcoming environment with their peers.
Participating seniors and volunteers meet before concerts to build relationships and connect over a shared pastime. Financial assistance is made available for ticket purchases and transportation, if necessary.
“I cannot drive at night. This was my first time, and it was a delight. Great committee to make me feel welcome and enjoy a night out.” – Seniors Connect Participant
Support provided by
Organized and hosted by the Hamilton Public Library, Memory Cafés are fun, casual events for older adults struggling with memory issues. These adults and their caregivers meet and socialize in a relaxing environment at one of many library branches. Musicians of the HPO offer performances as part of this free event series.
Music and Wellness Talks in the Community
How can we listen to music more mindfully and find its benefits in our day to day? What can science tell us about the response humans have to music? How do professional musicians use music as a tool for their own wellbeing? These questions, and more, are explored in the dynamic panel discussion event Music and Wellness: Shared Perspectives.
An initiative of the HPO’s Wellbeing Committee, this event begins a conversation with our community about the impacts of music to one’s own wellness. Bringing together three unique perspectives, this informative discussion explores music’s therapeutic attributes and offers guests a scientific, social and artistic overview of how music can be used as a tool for wellness.
This talk features a short performance by the HPO’s Concertmaster and moderated by Executive Director Diana Weir, this illuminating panel discussion features Dr. Laurel Trainor of the McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind, Rachael Finnerty of the Ontario Music Therapy Academy and Stephen Sitarski, Concertmaster of the HPO.
Wellbeing Committee Members
Bethany Bergman, Principal Second Violin
Janice Locke, Past Board Chair
Rachel Nolan, Music Therapist
Dr. David Price, Department of Family Medicine, McMaster University
Dr. Laurel Trainor, LIVELab, McMaster University