For this week’s Charitable Choices feature we spoke with Chrissy from The Canadian Music Therapy Fund, a charity that was established right here in Toronto.
Describe your charity:
The Canadian Music Therapy Fund (CMTF) exists to promote awareness of and create access to music therapy for Canadians who need it most. Our initiatives range from music therapy programs for people on the autism spectrum, living with Alzheimer’s disease, challenged by anxiety and depression, rehabilitating speech or motor skills, or living with a brain injury, to name a few. Locally, one project of the CMTF is the Music Therapy Centre, which provides accessible music therapy services in a storefront clinic.
What problem does it aim to solve?
Our charity aims to tackle the issue of accessibility to music therapy. Music therapy is an effective, evidence-based practice; however, it is not funded by government programs or covered by most private insurance plans. CMTF works to advocate for funding while, at the same time, helping people and organizations who cannot afford it to access the service.
When did you start?
In 2010, I joined the team at the Music Therapy Centre (a local project of the CMTF) providing music therapy sessions. After a few years, I became Clinical Manager of the Centre and also began working for the CMTF with fundraising and public awareness.
What made you want to get involved?
I’m a certified music therapist and I see the amazing impact music therapy can have on people facing so many different challenges. My work has involved people in palliative care, long-term care, psychiatric care and community mental health organizations. In one week, I might write a song with a dying patient as a legacy gift for their loved ones, improvise music with a group of adults coping with mental illness and sing familiar songs with a person living with dementia who can no longer speak but sings every word of the songs that mean so much to them. Organizations often don’t have room for music therapy in their budget – until they see the amazing work that can happen. I love being part of a process that allows people to see the value of music therapy and help them find a way to afford it.
What was the situation like when you started?
When I started with the CMTF a little over 10 years ago, things were shifting. The organization used to receive all of its funding and support from the Canadian music industry. However, the music industry had been changing and the donations were not enough. We had to cut back on the number of projects we could support. The charity had to start thinking about fundraising differently.
How has it changed since?
At this time, CMTF has developed signature fundraising events such as the Music March for Music Therapy and, with the arrival of COVID-19, an online event called Song Session for the Frontline. The organization has also developed new relationships with exciting sponsors and donors who are passionate about the power of music.
What more needs to be done?
With the rising mental health needs that the pandemic is bringing, we are aware now more than ever about the importance of awareness and accessibility. Music therapy continues to grow and there is more and more research and awareness, however, there is more to be done to make sure people understand music therapy and see the value. Until everyone can access music therapy, we will keep working to make it happen.
How can our readers help?
Donate and get involved! Attend our events, share social media content (@cdnmusictherapy), or make a donation today at https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/885510008RR0001-canadian-music-therapy-fund/ .
To learn more about music therapy in Canada, visit the Canadian Association of Music Therapists: https://www.musictherapy.ca/.
Do you have any events coming up?
March is Music Therapy Awareness Month. During March, we work hard to raise awareness and funds. Our Song Session for the Frontline is back this March 27th, 2021.
Last year’s Song Session for the Frontline (SSFTFL) was created when our usual event in March needed to be cancelled due to the pandemic. The event was intended to meet the mental health needs of frontline healthcare workers and their families. The impact of the pandemic on the mental health of healthcare workers will extend well beyond this crisis and music therapy can help.
2020’s SSFTFL raised nearly $20k and directly supported three unique music therapy programs for frontline healthcare workers and their families.
This year’s Song Session for the Frontline is back with a rad 90’s twist! We will feature three sets – Cowabunga Kids Tunes, Rad Afternoon Jams, and a Gettin’ Jiggy Dance party in the evening!
Where can we follow you?
You can follow us on social media at @cdnmusictherapy and visit our website https://musictherapyfund.ca/.
An awesome local charity we love: New Visions Toronto is a charitable organization that provides housing, care, and support for children, adolescents and adults with complex developmental and physical disabilities. They have been a client of the Music Therapy Centre for many years!