“The Power of Music”

File photo. (Unhindered by Talent / Flickr)

A new research project is currently being conducted in Brandon which aims to give some insight into music’s effect on our elderly citizens.  The project is titled “Music’s Influence on Appetite, Behavior and Sleep in End-of-Life Care” and is being spearheaded by Corey Friesen, a fourth-year piano performance student at Brandon University and music director at Trinity United Church. Dr. Sheelagh Chadwick is supervising the project, and helped to ensure ethics approval for the project through BU’s Research Ethics Committee.

A student of Professor Megumi Masaki at the School of Music, Corey first gained community outreach experience through his participation in Masaki’s Rising Stars Brandon University Outreach project, and through this, found inspiration for this project. This current study will be conducted over ten weeks, and researches the impact live music concerts can have on the elderly, and more specifically, which time of day may produce the best results. Musical concerts are organized for specific times of the day, and data is collected by the Health Care Aides.  The data is then compared to interviews held with the facility’s two Registered Psychiatric Nurses. The results are expected to be publicized in early July of 2013.

“Corey has brought to the forefront the power and effect of music, even to those affected by Dementia. He has put a song in the heart of those that may have forgotten how to sing. Bravo Corey for your continued research and your commitment to offering music to all,” says Karla Struthers, the Executive Director of Valley View Care Center, also heavily involved in ensuring the success of the project.

As a secondary project, Corey is working with Megumi Masaki and Dean Michael Kim of the School of Music to help create a self-sustaining community outreach program of concerts for School of Music Performance Students, called the Care Home Outreach Project. “I am looking forward to working with Corey and the School of Music students on this project – having our music students share their talents with the community will be another means of engaging and reaching out to our community constituent in a most meaningful way,” Kim comments. Through this unique collaboration of the School of Music Students, and an incredible organization called “Artists in Healthcare MB” Corey hopes that the Care Home Outreach Project will continue to be a thriving outreach opportunity and initiative in Brandon. Concerts will be held in Dinsdale, Fair View, Valley View, Rideau Park and Hillcrest Place care homes. BU School of Music students will perform half-hour to hour-long concerts for these residents throughout fall 2013 and winter/spring of 2014.

Shirley Grierson, the Executive Director of “Artists in Healthcare MB”, has been an integral part of this union. Her work has made it possible for anyone who donates to the Care Home Outreach Project to receive tax-deductible receipts for donations of $50 or higher starting on June 1st, 2013. Grierson comments: “Artists in Healthcare MB are delighted to welcome Corey Friesen on board as the Program Coordinator and creator of the Care Home Outreach Project in Brandon. Corey’s program joins our Music to My Ears program at the Brandon Regional Health Centre, making this our largest rural program. Corey’s passion and commitment to bring music to people in long term care is inspiring.”

The current research project requires funding of $1000. Among those who have so far contributed are the staff at Valley View, Trinity United Church, and the United Church Women. 60% of the total needed funds for the 10-week research project have been raised so far; however, $400 is still needed.

To raise the remaining funds for the research project, as well to raise funds for the outreach project to continue in later years, Corey has organized a fundraising concert called “The Power of Music”.  This concert will be held at Trinity United Church on Thursday, June 13th, 2013 at 7:00pm. Trinity’s own choir and pianist Lois Park will perform, as well as some of the BU Music students who have performed music in Brandon’s care homes. Refreshments will be served.

Corey is aiming for $4000 to be raised for the 2013-2014 school year, which would fund 80 concerts. The hope is to provide each of the five care homes with two free concerts per month for the eight months of the academic year. After the initial $400 is collected to pay for the remaining concerts of the research project at Valley View in June 2013, all donations and ticket sales from this event will be placed in the fund created for the Care Home Outreach Project.

Tickets for “The Power of Music” sell for $15, and will be available at the door or in advance by contacting Corey at feroce.misterioso@gmail.com, or by phone at 204-319-0254. Further donations are encouraged and greatly appreciated! A $25 donation provides a half-hour concert and $50 provides an hour-long concert. Donations of $50 or more will receive tax-deductible receipts through “Artists in Healthcare MB” courtesy of Executive Director, Shirley Grierson. Please bring your chequebooks and give generously to this worthy cause!