Providence Healthcare Foundation
Providence Healthcare Foundation

Tracy Martin (left) is a Therapeutic Recreationist at Providence and Mercedes Rodrigo (right) is a musician with Music Can Heal.

The Healing Power of Music

Feb 19, 2019

Music has the power to be truly transformative. A familiar song or tune can transport us back in time, and leave us with feelings of nostalgia, happiness and well-being. Music helps to build connections between people, during times of intense happiness, and also during times of deep sadness. For patients and their families, the journey through palliative care can be a tough, demanding and emotional experience. At Providence, we want our patients and their families to feel at ease and cared for, in a supportive and calming environment. That’s why on Monday evenings, beautiful melodies fill the halls of our Palliative Care Program, as expertly trained musicians play bedside music for patients and their loved ones.

This January, marked the two year anniversary of a Women in Philanthropy for Providence (WIPP) funded initiative that connects musicians from Music Can Heal with patients at Providence. Music Can Heal is a non-profit organization that brings peaceful, healing music to patients in need, be it to their bedside, within a hospital, a hospice or to their private residence. Hearing live music, either by a musician playing bedside or walking the halls of a busy hospital wing, can soothe, comfort, uplift and distract from pain.

For Talia Wooldridge, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Music Can Heal, the WIPP funded program has provided her organization and its musicians with a deeper appreciation for the therapeutic benefits of music. "It has been a pleasure working with Providence on a monthly basis to help to bring music to those in need. I do know that all of the Music Can Heal musicians who play at Providence weekly are touched by the clients and friendly staff. It is an honour to provide music to them and we hope to continue. They are a strong part of the Music Can Heal family."

Tracy Martin, a Therapeutic Recreationist in Providence’s Palliative Care Program, appreciates the value that the Music Can Heal musicians bring to her team. Tracy has had the pleasure of seeing this initiative grow over the past two years, and she looks forward to continuing to find new and innovative ways to enhance patient care at Providence.

For Sister Gail Fox (pictured right), a harpist and Chaplain, the healing power of music is central to the spiritual and emotional well-being of palliative care patients. Since 2014, Gail has come to Providence twice a week to play her beautiful harp for patients who are facing the end of their lives. As Gail moves from room to room, she is often touched by the compassionate care of relatives who are hopeful that harp music will bring much needed relief during difficult times. Therapeutic music has been studied extensively, and research suggests that music has been proven to stimulate more parts of the brain at once than any other activity.

As Gail aptly puts it, “the music takes people to a different place and for a brief moment, the music can take away their pain”. She often plays therapeutic harp music at the bedside standing with family and loved ones. Sometimes there is laughter, and at other times there are tears, but more often than not, there’s silence. When asked what Gail finds most compelling about her work, she responded with a quote from Mozart – “The music is not in the notes, but in the silence in between”.

If this story has touched you, please consider donating to Providence. You can make a significant difference to the patients, residents and families who come to us for hope and healing. You can help our patients discover how strong they truly are by giving the gift of compassion.

To donate, visit our donation page or call 416-285-3630.

To learn more about Music Can Heal and how you can get involved please visit