The Music Care Conference is one of the best one-day learning events I’ve ever been to. And I’m not saying that because I work for Room 217 Foundation. I’ve attended conferences and in-services for jobs in several fields of work, and they can’t hold a candle to Music Care Conference.
The first Music Care Conference I attended was in 2015 in Mississauga. I’d helped to market it, but really had no idea about the feel of the event.
Yes, there are keynotes. Yes there are workshops. Yes, there is performance. But what makes this conference different is the sense of oneness. I’m not sure that’s even a word, but what I mean is that we are all kindred spirits there – we come from a variety of backgrounds, may or may not be working in health care, may or may not be musical, may or may not be an academic – but we all know that music has a role in healthcare, and gather for eight fabulous hours to learn why, and how and what’s next.
What I mean by that is the presenters (keynote and workshops) bring knowledge through study, through clinical work, or through research and share what they’ve learned. There is something for everybody there. What this means is that regardless of your level of education or your level of experience, there is something for you to learn.
At the Mississauga conference (2016) I invited high school teachers who were involved in the Specialist High Skills Major programs in arts and culture and health. Students in this program get a special designation on their high school diploma that signifies they’ve taken a prescribed number of courses (and done some extra work) in a particular field. It gives them a taste of what a career in a field might be like. I was excited when two groups of SHSM students and their teachers came to the conference. One teacher told me after the conference that several of his students were SO excited to learn that music therapy was a job. They’d never heard of it. They couldn’t wait to go home and share that with their parents. The students were keen on music; the parents were keen on jobs in health or science. The students saw music therapy as a viable option to keep everyone happy.
Sarah Pearson, Room 217’s program development lead is a music therapist, and she met with this group of students on a break. That’s the sort of conference it is - it’s not snobby or pie-in-the-sky. It’s real. It presents real issues that real caregivers struggle with on a daily basis. There is a sense of camaraderie among those who believe in the music care approach.
So if you are looking for some continuing education that is informative and inspirational, love music and want to see some performance, and want to come meet a couple hundred new friends, please join us. This year’s conference keynote addresses will be provided by Dr. Gary Ansdell and Dr. Andrea Creech. Dr. Ansdell will speak on the topic of Care for Music: an Ethnography of Music in Late Life and End of Life Settings. Dr. Creech will speak about musicking and creative music technologies for enriching later life. The closing keynote presenter is Ian Thomas, who will speak about My Story with Music and Wellness. I’m hoping to sneak into Dr. Justine Schneider’s session. She’ll be talking about the British experiment around arts and social prescription. That’s right. People are being referred to services in the community, instead of being prescribed medicine. Save me a seat!
Deb Bartlett is a journalist by profession, with a particular interest in the health and education beats. As Room 217’s Resource Development Lead, her experience as a writer lends valuable communication and networking expertise within the wide range of Room 217 customers and media relations.