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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of  Music
July 1, 2016

Canadian Excellence

Dr. Amy Clements Cortes

Amy Clements-Cortes, PhD, MTA, MT-BC, FAMI

For full biography click here.†

Getting Your Groove on with the Tenori-on


This†study investigated the use of the Tenori-on instrument and the Tenori-on user guide in music therapy clinical settings. The Tenori-on is a digital instrument on which persons can play or compose music. Participants in the study included music therapists and music therapy interns/students who received a Tenori-on to assess its application in their clinical work. Feedback was obtained through interviews and surveys on their experiences using the Tenori-on with a variety of populations and their assessments of the instrumentís ability to address communication, emotional, social, and motor goals in individual and group settings. Participants described the instrument as fun, engaging, motivating, having sensory appeal, being well suited for improvisation and easy for non-musicians, but also complicated to master. The Tenori-on offers a new, accessible option for music therapists to incorporate modern technology into their clinical practice.

Sing-A-Long of the 1930s.

This study investigated the utilization of an original sing-a-long DVD and activity package titled Sing-A-Long of the 1930ís to engage older adultsí participation in singing and therapeutic recreation activities. The method included the participation of 25 nursing or retirement homes and adult day care centres across Canada in a DVD sing-a-long and activity program for 5 weeks, followed by individual interviews with participants and/or focus groups. The results focused on participant, caregiver, and DVD facilitatorís perceived benefits and indicate the DVD was successful in engaging older adults with cognitive impairment in social interaction and discussion, participation in meaningful activity, reminiscence, sensory stimulation, and quality of life in aging.

Research Questions
1) What if any are the benefits of the experience of singing assisted through the DVD resource as expressed by older adults residing in nursing homes, their care providers and family members?
2) How can a sing-a-long DVD best be implemented with older adults residing in nursing homes attending therapeutic recreation programs?
3) What are the revisions needed to make this DVD of most value to the population of older adults?
4) Does participation in the DVD program contribute to the following therapeutic goals: stimulate reminiscence, sensory stimulation; participation in meaningful activity, social interaction and/or quality of life.

Buddy's Glee Club Phase One: Singing for Health and Wellness

The purpose of this study was to examine the benefits of participating in a choir facilitated by a music therapist on the health, wellness and successful aging of older adults. This study focused on older adults who were cognitively intact and/or diagnosed with dementia.


  • What if any are the benefits of the lived experience of singing in a glee club facilitated by a music therapist and music therapy accompanist as expressed by older adults attending day care programs?
  • How can a glee club program best be implemented with older adults attending adult day care programs?
  • What is the impact of singing on the physical and emotional dimensions of health?

Method: Participants completed an intake questionnaire on general health and wellness and a battery of pre and post test assessments on mood, self-esteem etc. Interviews were conducted with participants at the completion of the choral sessions. Choral sessions took place one time per week for one hour for a total of 16 weeks.

Results: There were five large themes that emerged from the analysis of the interview and the researcherís field notes including: friendship and companionship; simplicity; happiness, uplifting and positive feelings; relaxing and reduced anxiety; and fun. Below is a discussion with respect to each theme and direct quotes in italic font from participants.

Discussion: The majority of participants in this study benefited from attending the choir and thoroughly enjoyed many aspects of singing in a medium to large size group. Several participants commented that even if physical limitations such as throat pain or physical inability to sing inhibited them from singing all of the songs or words, the facilitators were very helpful in adjusting what was required and they enjoyed going to choir.

Buddy's Glee Club Phase Two: Keeping Momentum Going

The purpose of this study was to examine the physical, psychological, social, and emotional effects of singing in a weekly choir facilitated by a music therapist for both cognitively intact and cognitively impaired older adults residing in a nursing home.


  1. What, if any, are the benefits of the lived experience of singing in a glee club facilitated by a music therapist as expressed by older adults living in nursing homes?
  2. How can a glee club program best be implemented with older adults in nursing homes?
  3. What is the impact of singing on the physical, social, psychological, and emotional dimensions of health?

Method: For 16 weeks, participants sang in a weekly 45 minute choir session. Mood, pain, anxiety, happiness, and energy were rated at the beginning and end of each choral session. Interviews were conducted at the completion of the study with all participants.

Results: The average scores of all participant responses showed that for each of the 16 sessions, happiness and mood increased from pre to post test. Energy increased for 14 sessions, pain decreased for 14 sessions, and anxiety decreased for 11 out of 16 sessions. Qualitative data saw the emergence of nine major themes: community building/making friends; special moments; climate of positivity; music is therapy; singing makes me feel well/keeps me going; no anxiety at glee; increased mood, energy and alertness; I can do it; and, I love to sing.

Discussion: The data demonstrates that for residents with no cognitive impairment, and those with cognitive impairment, singing was a beneficial intervention to improve mood, happiness, and energy, and decrease pain and anxiety on a weekly basis. The data does not show that the choral sessions were effective in gradual and long-lasting increases on those