Exploring the healing powers of music

Wilfrid Laurier University welcomed former lead singer of the Barenaked Ladies Steven Page on Saturday to the Music Care Conference held in the Maureen Forrester hall.

The goal of the day was to look at the music from a non-pop culture point of view. The day was to enlighten students and community members alike of the different healing properties of music. Lee Willingham, professor of music at WLU, helped to bring this conference to Laurier, he is a part of the Laurier Centre for Music in the Community, which sponsored, in part, the conference.

“We had three key note speakers and nine breakout sessions all dealing with music and wellness [and] music and healing,” said Willingham. Page was one of these speakers.

The conference was sponsored in part by Room 217, an organization dedicated to using music for healing. Page spoke about his personal background and his struggles with depression. “It’s okay to be sick,” Page mentioned during his talk. “But it’s not ok not to deal with it”.

One of the ways to deal with depression is through music as Page spoke to. He also sang a number of songs that he had written about his mental illness. Page also spoke of working as a team, particularly with The Barenaked Ladies, but also in is current work. He spoke of singing at Jack Layton’s funeral and the importance of music in that situation.

However, the day wasn’t just about depression; it also dealt with coping, healing and spirituality through music.

“Through our research and knowledge of peoples lives,” said Willingham. “We learn that music plays an integral part of life, it’s more than simply entertaining, it’s something that people use intentionally for all sorts of enrichment.”

The day also included two other keynote speakers: Richard Kogan and Therese Schroder-Sheker.

Along with speakers participants had the opportunity to attend workshops. These workshops illustrated the importance of music in daily life.

Some workshops included: music care in grief, music therapy for individuals with stroke injuries, music therapy and autism and music performance medicine.

“Music is something that is deeply spiritual,” said Page, and although he wasn’t speaking about religion, he did note that music is important for healing of all kinds.

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