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 our relationship with music, regardless of our level of music training, is meaningful and powerful. It also means engaging in shared experiences through music with our community. In the absence of in-person concerts and events during the pandemic, we have learned that now more than ever, shared experiences involving music and the arts are essential to maintaining and enhancing wellbeing. Through accessible programming for community members of all ages, HPO is committed to advancing our work promoting wellbeing through music in new and innovative ways.
The below video highlights just a few of the many wellbeing initiatives that we are working on with partners in the community, as well as what it means to the volunteers and participants who support this work.
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In December of 2020, we introduced a new program to bring the HPO to older adults who are without internet access and who face social isolation. Our telephone-based program offers weekly educational talks by Composer-in-Residence Abigail Richardson-Schulte and music performed by our chamber ensembles.
Combatting social isolation is one of the HPO’s priority areas as part of our Wellbeing Initiative. In 2018 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
The Covid-19 pandemic has led to further isolation and loss of necessary programs and social experiences for many older adults. Since the onset of the pandemic, we have been working with our community partners and stakeholders to adapt our Seniors Connect programming to support participants remotely.
Music and Wellness Talks in the Community
Throughout the year we present talks and panel discussions in the community on topics related to connections between music and one’s mental and physical health, as well as music history and appreciation. These engagements provide an accessible opportunity for community connection as well as shared learning experiences. In the 20-21 season, we have adapted our community talks for a virtual environment providing opportunities to learn and engage remotely.
Recognizing Canadian Mental Health Week
May 3-9 2021 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 through our work. We’ll be highlighting the connections between music and mental health and wellness on our social channels and email newsletter. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to learn how the HPO is engaging with our community to support mental health and wellness through music.
Past Programs and Events
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.
Hearing Loss Study with McMaster University’s LIVELab
In 2019, 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 our May 2019 Mainstage concert, Mahler’s Fifth, the LIVELab conducted a study during the performance and evaluated current systems for assisting people with hearing loss in a concert setting. Participants were fitted with special hearing aids within hearing loop technology.
Music and Wellness: Shared Perspectives
We partnered with leading experts to present the panel discussion Music and Wellness: Shared Perspectives on July 18, 2019 at the Hamilton Public Library Central Branch. The HPO’s then-Executive Director Diana Weir moderated this illuminating panel discussion featuring 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.
An initiative of the HPO’s Wellbeing Committee, this event was the starting point of a conversation with our community about the impacts of music on one’s own wellness. Bringing together three unique perspectives, this discussion explored music’s therapeutic attributes and provided a scientific, social and artistic overview of how music can be used as a tool for wellness.