Noteworthy book for children
People see Hayley Francis Cann walking around with instruments and usually assume she is headed somewhere to perform.
In a way she is, although her job as a music therapist requires her to “do a lot more than entertain”.
There is a clinical process involved: referrals, assessment, examination of patient history and an action plan.
Wanting to help people understand the role better, she searched for information, but came up with little outside of textbooks and scholarly articles. And then came the thought: why not write a book of her own?
“I don’t have any children, but I’ve seen my colleagues bring their children to work,” the 26-year-old said. “That’s what gave me the idea.”
Mandy’s Mom, The Music Therapist is the result of her efforts. Ms Francis Cann, who works in Ontario, Canada, returned home this week to promote it.
The book tells how Mandy spends a day shadowing her mom at work and, once back at school, describes music therapy and its benefits to her classmates.
Although only officially released on March 3, copies went on sale here in December.
“There are so many music therapists around the world and I really wanted to do our profession justice. Also, I really wanted to get it out because March is Music Therapy Awareness Month. I thought it would be a good time for me to start getting people interested and excited about buying it, because there are so many music therapy events happening around the world. It was a bit of a challenge, but we did it.
“We sold out in Bermuda which was great,” Ms Francis Cann said, adding that Amazon.com also had to order more copies from her publisher, Mascot Books.
“It took about eight months to put it together before it was actually printed. It was a very hands-on process where I was involved in every detail — which I wouldn’t have had with a traditional publisher. I really liked this route.”
Through the company she works for, Find Your Voice, she uses music to help older people, particularly those with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
She’s particularly proud of the work she did with a woman who made the odd sound, but never said actual words. Ms Francis Cann gathered a group of seniors to sing and welcomed the woman to join them.
“At the halfway point of our session, she started to sing along,” she said. “For a good 20 minutes she was singing along. That was amazing for the rest of us to see.”
Because music activates the entire brain, it can temporarily bring back some of a dementia patient’s memories.
“How long that memory will last depends on how progressive their dementia is,” Ms Francis Cann said. “It’s great to bring out who that person is on the inside, and see them more joyful and at ease.”
Growing up, music was her passion. She played the clarinet, but hated the stress of getting on stage.
Music therapy seemed the perfect career option as it included another love of hers, healthcare.
The programme she studied at Acadia University in Nova Scotia required her to learn to play the piano and guitar and become proficient in voice and various types of drums, but today, her “principle instrument is the saxophone”.
“I think the guitar was probably a bit of a struggle but, once I got it, it was okay. I just hadn’t ever played the guitar before. It was a completely new instrument for me.”
She would like to eventually move back to Bermuda.
“I would like to work with both young children and seniors, because I think there is something beautiful that can happen when those two generations cross and interact,” she said.
The book will be available locally exclusively at The Long Story Short bookstore in St George. Books are also available directly from the Cann and Francis families or online on websites such as Amazon.com and mascotbooks.com
•Hayley Francis Cann will sign copies of Mandy’s Mom, The Music Therapist on Saturday at the Youth Library on Church Street from 10.30am until 12pm and at Long Story Short Bookstore on Water Street, St George from 3pm to 4.30pm
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