“God gave us music… that we might pray without words
It goes without saying that music is and always has been an inherent element of social and cultural lives for people of all ages. It accompanies all of us throughout the course of our lives, it helps us express ourselves, and evokes strong, emotional memories. On top of that, we have all heard of the therapeutic and pleasure-inducing properties of music which help individuals cope with major mental and physical disorders by boosting their moods, and reducing levels of stress and anxiety. Music Therapy has become an especially popular form of therapy among seniors who work on their physical, emotional, and spiritual well being through music-related activities, such as singing, playing instruments, or even dancing.
St. Joseph’s Senior Home residents to are no strangers to these benefits. Thanks to Sister Leila and her fondness for music, the walls of St. Jo’s Senior Home have been filled with melody. Sister Leila does not shy away from sharing her gift for music with the rest of st. Joseph’s community, she enjoys singing along with the residents, and her performance of psalms during mass service really touches the hearts, making the experience even more magical. It was thanks to sister Leila’s initiative that St. Jo’s was host to a Filipino band that would join us each week for Sunday service, and together with sister Leila, they would sing and play to the glory of our Lord. Our residents absolutely loved these performances and they are eagerly waiting for the band’s return after the pandemic. As the director of activity, Sister Leila never fails to keep the residents’ calendar varied and filled with musical activities. Apart from hosting the sing-along events, she has also invited multiple musicians to perform for our residents, including Joey Sudyka, Moreno Fruzzetti, Andy Hladek and one of our residents’ favorite entertainers – Chester, a talented staff member who never fails to keep us in stitches! Many of these performers choose to entertain our residents free of charge, they bring joy to our seniors expecting nothing in return but a genuine smile. We are extremely grateful for their will to share their talents with us! Sister Leila has been with us for around 8 years now and she has always put much effort into engaging our seniors in musical activities.
In recent months, Sister Anna has joined in on the project and has come up with new ways to entertain our residents. Her initiative to start a band proved a great success as our seniors derive great fun from playing mock instruments and singing along to their favorite songs – even if they are waaay off-key! The residents are very creative with their musical activities, and even if they do not have access to real instruments, they still join the play and improvise using upholstered chairs to play the
‘drums’. But being off-key and the fact that they are playing pretend instruments is beside the point. What matters is the laughter, and the feeling of happiness which fills their souls as they gather together with fellow friends and sisters, to lose themselves in the melody. This is what our residents miss the most during the pandemic and they cannot wait for the day they can finally come together and play again.
While the music itself can be therapeutic, and bring about a great improvement to the seniors’ well-being, it is also this feeling of togetherness that accompanies these activities that bring joy and gives our seniors positive energy for each day, Listening to concerts and live musical performances arouse deep emotions and spark lengthy discussions which strengthen the bonds of friendship among residents. After all, as Ella Fitzgerald once famously said “music is the universal language… it brings people closer together”
Apart from the fun musical activities which our residents are so keen on, we always aim to incorporate plenty of music in our daily masses and devotions. After all, we believe in the word of St. Augustine who said that ‘to sing is to pray twice’.