Why Melody Mo? you may ask… I grew up in a very musical home, learning guitar from my Dad and piano from both of my parents. From the age of 7, I began carrying my fender around like a well-loved cat. Studying music and drama through school, I returned to the creative arts on a daily basis. Music was sometimes a love-hate relationship, having music teachers who delighted in pushing as hard as a Biggest Loser boot camp instructor. Yet that tough love paved the way for us students to receive rewards of the purest sounds. Pursuing a career in music always seemed to be an unreachable dream, something that only concert pianists, or a well-to-do philanthropist could make happen. My understanding of music therapy, at the time, consisted of calming beach sounds, echoing in a dimly lit room, candlelight included. I had no idea.
As time went on, I decided that music would always be in my life, however, I wanted to have a better grasp of social sciences, leading to an honors undergraduate degree in Psychology at VIU. In the last two years of my studies, music therapy wove its way into my papers. I was fascinated at the idea of improving quality of life for people, specifically with dementia, by playing music with and to them. While taking Dr. Rachel Cooper’s Adult Aging and Development course, it became apparent that I was entirely head over heels with the science of using music to heal people. I began to take myself more seriously again as a singer/musician and jumped back in with both feet.
Since January 2013, a small group from VIU and I have helped implement a personalized music player program at a local Nanaimo senior’s home. This pilot project is the first of its kind on Vancouver Island. During the course of our volunteering, the music program has been greatly received by the referred residents. Carrying my fender in tow on trips regularly to the senior home earned me the nickname ‘Guitar lady’. It has been a huge delight learning classics from the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and beyond. Sharing musical memories with these folks, be it playing oldies on guitar over bowls of ice cream, or listening through speakers in a room tucked away at the end of the hall, while a husband sings softly along to his wife, music is always a mutually rewarding treat.
So the evolution of Melody Mo has evolved as the necessity to share in the journey of bringing music, through its many different forms, to the island communities (and beyond). Being a musician is so much more than playing an instrument or singing, it entails learning, teaching, storytelling, creating, healing, motivating and bonding. I am thrilled to be a part of a number of exciting music education projects in the fall, while continuing to expand the Alive with Music project.
“Music therapy, to me, is music performance without the ego. It’s not about entertainment as much as its about empathizing. If you can use music to slip past the pain and gather insight into the workings of someone else’s mind, you can begin to fix a problem. ” – Jodi Picoult (Author of the bestselling book Sing You Home) (An excellent novel which I highly recommend).
I am looking forward to sharing some great music therapy resources, articles and stories, as well as updates on music projects I am involved in locally, such as Alive with Music, music education workshops/series and of course, performances! Central Vancouver Island hosts a number of highly talented artists, some of whom I am blessed to create music with. Check out the ‘Local Artists’ page to learn about the talent that’s unfolding…
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