Spotlight On A Member: Music Heals

Posted on
July 31, 2014
Tagged as
CIMA News, member, membership, music therapy



We can all attest to the importance of music in our day-to-day lives, but how much do you know about music therapy?

We’re excited to introduce one of CIMA’s newer members: Music Heals, a foundation based out of Vancouver focused on raising awareness about the healing powers of music. Music Heals funds a wide variety of music therapy services both in BC and nationally; helping music therapy reach children’s hospitals, palliative care, HIV & AIDS programs and at-risk youth, just to name but a few.

But what is music therapy? According to the handy “About Music Therapy” section of their website, music therapy is performed by accredited therapists who use the benefits of music to “promote, maintain and restore mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health.” It harnesses the benefits of music, notably the nonverbal, creative, structural and emotional qualities, in the context of a therapeutic relationship to address any number of goals. These can range from improving communication, academic strengths, attention span, motor skills, pain management and motor skills, just to name a few. You can read about music therapy, its origins and its many benefits by clicking here.


What is Music Heals and what do they do?

As an organization, their mission is to “support a wide range of music therapy services to communities across Canada by providing ongoing funding for those agencies that develop and use music therapy.” (Music Heals website).

While neither of the founders of Music Heals are music therapists themselves, they were inspired by the work of music therapists around them. From those they encountered within the BC Children’s Hospital to their friends who participated in the annual Music Therapy Ride, they were looking for a way to help support music therapy programs year-round.

Beyond raising awareness about the healing potential of music therapy, Music Heals is committed to funding hours of music therapy – meaning they're focused on expanding the capacity of existing music therapy programs. “We’re allowing them [music therapists] to keep doing what they’re already doing”, and they’ve opted to pursue this through a bunch of different and outside-the-box initiatives ranging from accepting donations of used iPods to raising money through setting up Music Heals running teams at marathons.

Having limited experience running a foundation, they set out to run this in a non-traditional and flexible way. As Executive Director Chris Brandt explained, “we’re not running this like a charity, we’re marketing it like a band would market a new record, or a label would promote an artist.”

What does that mean? It means they’re not singularly focused on soliciting donations and instead focus on making it easy for people to engage with Music Heals in the simplest and most immediate ways possible. “We want to be on people’s radar. Get them to watch the Facebook account, check our Twitter and Instagram. There are lots of ways to get involved – and we’re not just asking for money.”


How is the music community involved?

Chris describes the role of Music Heals as a ‘noisemaker’, and they’ve used a variety of programs, initiatives and partnerships (both local and national) to raise money for music therapy services in different communities. As you can image, this type of ethos matches up well with the music sector – especially indie artists who might have limited resources. “We try to get everyone to just spread the word, whether that’s retweets, collecting iPods at a show, or collecting donations from ticket sales.” While artists may not necessarily be familiar with the science behind music therapy or be familiar with how music therapists operate, they can usually relate to music's therapeutic power on a personal level.

From recruiting Hannah Georgas (among other musicians) to their running team in the 2014 Scotiabank Charity Challenge to having Prevail from Swollen Members launch a “Prev Ale” beer with proceeds benefiting Music Heals at Vancouver Craft Beer Week 2014, it’s been a particularly exciting time for Music Heals.

“We want people who are emotionally invested”, said Chris, while explaining that he’s not just looking for artists (or potential partners) to donate money. He’s looking to build partnerships with people that are emotionally invested in expanding music therapy and wants to be sure that these partnerships are mutually beneficial for everyone involved.”



Sounds cool, right? Take a look at just a small sampling of their accomplishments in the last 2 years:

  • They’ve donated a whopping $100,000 to music therapy programs in 2013 – their first year of existence.
  • Their running team in the 12th Annual Music Therapy Ride raised over $10,000 in their first event.
  • Their running team in the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon & 5K raised over $14,000.
  • They’ve already got significant corporate support. Apple approved the iPod Pharmacy program, Aeroplan created a donation account for their members, and a $10,000 monthly grant from Google was received for Adwords advertising.
  • The CRTC has recognized Music Heals as an eligible CCD recipient! They’ve also recently signed a 7-year CCD agreement with a local radio station, ensuring their longevity.

Coming down the pipeline for 2014 is Music Heals’ first gala, called “Strike a Chord”. Happening on October 23 in Vancouver, proceeds from the evening will benefit local music therapy programs. Individual tickets are now on sale here, and they’ve actually already sold out of VIP tables. As Chris explains, “We had people who’d been waiting to support us, wanting to give larger donations and buy a table, who wanted to be part of an event.”


We’re excited to have Music Heals on board as a member of CIMA, and we’re sure that 2014 (and beyond!) will be just as successful as 2013.

On behalf of CIMA’s staff, Board of Directors and members, we’d like to give a warm welcome to Music Heals! If you’d like to know more about the excellent work this organization is doing or get in touch with them on ways you or your artists can help, you can find their website here, follow their Twitter account here and check them out on Facebook here.



Are you a CIMA member interested in being profiled for our Member Spotlight feature? Do you know someone we should profile? Send our Research and Communications Coordinator, Lisa Fiorilli, an email: 

List all news