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Music therapist showcases healing power of music at local eatery

Heather Cameron plays for the crowds at The Dock in New Glasgow on Saturday night for her music therapy fundraiser drive.
Heather Cameron plays for the crowds at The Dock in New Glasgow on Saturday night for her music therapy fundraiser drive. - Fram Dinshaw

A local music therapist held a suitably musical fundraiser at The Dock in New Glasgow to help pay her wages in an increasingly popular field of healing.

Before she picked up her guitar to play before a raucous Saturday night crowd, Heather Cameron was keen to promote the health benefits of her chosen profession.

“There’s improving communication skills, improving self-esteem. Music can promote independence, it can promote alternative forms of self-expression, it can decrease agitation and it can help manage pain along with facilitating rehabilitation,” said Cameron.

She aimed to raise at least $1,000 for the organization Music Heals at The Dock. Her performance is part of a North American-wide drive by music therapists to raise money that will help pay their salaries and maintain existing client service programs.

“March is music therapy awareness month and so tonight I’m going to be…saying a little bit about the profession,” said Cameron.

Cameron is a member of the Canadian Association of Music Therapists, which is a not-for-profit organization that promotes the practice and research of music therapy, raises awareness nationally and help clients access such services.

Locally, accredited music therapists can be found through the Atlantic Association for Music Therapists, which lists professionals available in one’s local region.

“With more and more awareness, it’s been very well promoted within the community,” said Cameron.

But would-be music therapists from Pictou County can receive their music therapy accreditation right here in Nova Scotia at Acadia University, whose music therapy education program is one of five in Canada recognized by the CAMT.

To become a qualified music therapist, a candidate must be a CAMT member in good standing, complete at minimum a bachelor of music therapy degree at a CAMT-recognized faculty and complete a 1,000-hour clinical internship under the supervision of a CAMT-approved supervisor. Applicants must also pass the Certification Board of Music Therapists exam administered in the US and sign the CAMT’s ethical practice code.

Once qualified, the therapist can help a client through active therapy creating both instrumental and vocal music. Receptive therapy involves a therapist playing music while a client listens and completes tasks. All programs are aimed at boosting health and quality of life.

Music therapists typically see clients in hospitals, hospices, mental health facilities, schools, at home or in the community, addiction clinics, long-term care facilities or in prisons.

Cameron is one of 730 music therapists across Canada.

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