You might catch him in the hallways singing songs and strumming his guitar, or conversing with patients between songs, some who have become friends. He is part of a Life Enrichment program called Traveling Musician that is funded for 6 hours a week at MHC.
“Five Foot Two, Grandfather Clock, songs from the war- the most popular songs are the songs that were popular when the residents were young,” Artur, a second year University of Manitoba music student explains, saying that he has learned how to play roughly 60 new, (old) songs since he arrived at Misericordia.
At one of Artur’s informal performances, it is not unusual to see singing, smiling, and clapping. Wheelchairs don’t stop toes from tapping, and those who can’t tap toes sometimes count the beat with fingers.
“It’s an uplifting experience, the music relaxes people, and connects us, and I think it makes people happy. Sometimes people sing along with me; one resident sang every single song with me.”
The effects of Artur’s visits last beyond the performance, according to Ellen Locke, Director of Recreation Services at MHC.
“Music can improve your mood, because it is something that you do not have to process or think about, it is something you can simply enjoy in the moment.” She notes that live music can also improve cognition and communication, and add social interaction.
And playing those old songs might be therapeutic too.
“We always get some wonderful stories from the residents after a performance, happy and sad, a part of their lives that they want to share at that moment, almost as though the music triggers that particular memory.”
According to the Canadian Association of Music Therapy music is a form of sensory stimulation, which provokes positive responses due to the familiarity, predictability, and feelings of security associated with it. The effect of this is that music has been proven to relieve pain, reduce stress and reduce anxiety for patients. All of this is what we desire for our residents in long-term care.
Having Artur at Misericordia for the summer is just part of our commitment to music at Misericordia Health Centre. We also provide for a Music & Memory Program, a Choir Director and even a Tone Chimer. Music is just one part of a series of Life Enrichment therapy programs that is funded by donations.