The Healing Sound of Music


A new music-therapy program at The Salvation Army’s Addictions and Rehabilitation Centre in Victoria, B.C. is changing lives.

“Friday afternoon music jam is not only therapeutic, but fun and motivating,” says Nathan Swartz, program coordinator. “Music can be a powerful thing. It gets peoples’ minds off their troubles. When the guys are playing I know that for them, at least today is filled with joy. People experience real results from the healing power of music.”

Music Jam started in May 2012 and evolved from a group of musically gifted residents who gathered at the centre’s chapel with their personal instruments for impromptu practice sessions. When it became clear to The Salvation Army that this was not only developing musical talent, but restoring self-esteem, social function and communication skills in a drug-free/safe environment, more practices were encouraged and the Army provided instruments for participants to borrow.

The program’s doors are open to musicians of all walks of life. Here they share their expertise in areas such as improvisation, songwriting, and singing, and are exposed to a wide variety of musical styles. Most importantly participants are able to express themselves through the medium of music. New musicians are also welcome to attend and listen, and are free to ask musicians for lessons and tips.

Music has always been an integral part of Salvation Army ministry, lifting spirits, giving people new inspiration, new strength and new hope.

Says a client after listening to another client play Ray Charles and Jazz covers: “I was watching the new guy play for the last half hour and I realized he was breaking all the rules I was taught in piano class. I can’t wait to get on that thing and see what comes out!”


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