By Cameron Wong, October 2 2018 —
After a long day of studying, listening to your favourite songs on the C-Train home is one of the best ways to unwind. You might find that after going through a whole playlist, your mind sits much more relaxed and rested. This raises the question: can music have genuine therapeutic effects on your mind?
According to the Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research and Education at the University of Calgary, the answer is yes — and more. In an initiative called Music and Mental Health Week, the Mathison Centre is presenting a creative series of performances and talks surrounding the beneficial role music has in improving mental health.
“I’ve seen other events that combine fine art and mental health, but I haven’t seen any that are specifically music- and mental health[-focused],” says Mathison Centre education director Andrew Bulloch.
Bulloch is right — Music and Mental Health Week is a unique event, with an equally unique program of events.
On Oct. 2, Bulloch is speaking on the relationship between music and the brain, followed by speaker and traditional flute performer Walter Macdonald White Bear. This performance takes place at the Health Sciences Centre at the Foothills Campus.
At the Health Sciences Centre, the nationally recognized Lily Quartet will perform accompanied by musicians from the department of music, the Cumming School of Medicine and U of C staff on Oct. 3.
On Oct. 4, Music and Mental Health Week returns to the Rosza Centre with an interactive singing experience offered by The Music and Mental Health Choir and lead by University of Lethbridge professor Janet Youngdahl.
The final day is Oct. 5, where the Calgary Police Service Band will entertain children at the Alberta Children’s Hospital with a series of pieces, concluding the week’s diverse array of presentations. Each day’s event starts at noon and will last for an hour.
According to Bulloch, the purpose of the event is to engage the public about the role that plays in sickness and health.
“There are few things that stimulate the brain as music does,” Bulloch says, quoting an article published by John Hopkins Medicine. “Research has shown that listening to music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and pain, as well as improve sleep quality, mood and memory.”
Bulloch hopes that viewers will take away newfound knowledge about the special abilities that music has in keeping the brain in good health.
In the past, the Mathison Centre has hosted outreach events involving mental health and visual arts, as well as mental health education in vulnerable communities. Alongside Music and Mental Health Week, Bulloch notes that the Mathison Centre plans on hosting similar events in the future to promote positive attitudes towards mental health and a wholesome future for the community.
Events at Music and Mental Health Week are free to the public. If you are interested in attending the week’s festivities, you can pick up your tickets here.