Magazine article The Canadian Music Educator

Advocacy Corner

Magazine article The Canadian Music Educator

Advocacy Corner

Article excerpt

Advocacy corner this issue is based on my personal experience. Last August I had a stroke. A test that I was having called an angiogram that is fairly routine produced a clot that led to the stroke. I feel that what I re-learned and affirmed about the value of music education had personal relevance for me.

You can appreciate that my life suddenly took an unexpected turn in the road. To complicate matters my wife had a stroke after Christmas and we are sharing similar stories as we both recover. Thanks to all the kind folks who sent their good wishes. They helped.

On the road to recovery, which is still under way, I have drawn on many aspects that I have learned in making music that have assisted me greatly.

We all know these but when one is facing rehabilitating oneself there is so much that I drew from my music background that speeded the process.

In the first months of recovery my speech was very slurred and people could hardly understand me. The speech therapist in hospital went through the usual therapeutic spiel and I smiled because right away I recognized that the exercises were exactly what I use with my choir in warm ups and rehearsals. So on returning to the choir I gave up the director's position and joined the choir as a singer.

My singing was pitiful at first but I persisted. Something happened after a couple of sessions and I found that my healing sped up. I could tell the difference right away. My breathing, ability to pronounce "P" and "B's" especially began to improve rapidly. My breathing was also affected a lot and even that improved, at a faster rate than playing with various therapy devices that are supposed to assist deep breathing. It was magical. My mood was better after a few rehearsals, when I could see my progress. Also the social environment of being with all those other singers had a huge therapeutic effect.

My attention and focus at first were also compromised and, of course, the discipline of having to pay attention to the beat and flow of the music also had a beneficial neural effect. So much so that over the Christmas holidays when the choir took its recess I began to slip back in my speech skills.

I have always been aware of the beneficial therapeutic effects of studying music. But never more than now when just to sing was so helpful to my overall health.

I am now getting back at my instruments and I am employing therapies that we have known as practice on the little movements to get my fingers and brain coordinated. …

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