Bits and Bites of Everyday Life


'Health is not a condition of matter, but of Mind!' — Mary Baker Eddy

The power of song

There is a song to match your mood. How about a sing-along?

True North Perspective
Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair is the author of The Neglected Garden and two French novels. Visit her website to learn more:

Singing, listening and creating music of any kind has a therapeutic effect. It creates an immediate biological and psychological benefit. Music can be a salvation and powerful antidote to most psychological challenges. Music is inspirational, music soothes you when you are upset, hurt or lonely; music distracts you from the everyday drudgery and has a quick “pick-me-up” effect. Music can fortify your resolve; it can help you through grieving and accompany you along the path of recovery. 

I remember when I was first widowed and broke because my husband had emptied all the bank accounts … my favourite song was “I will survive!” My daughter and I would turn up the stereo system and sing and dance. For me, it was a terrific release from the pain of high treason and it increased my resolve to make good of a bad situation. 

Later on, when I dared to love again and it didn’t work out, I would sing Edith Piaf’s song, “Je ne regrette rien”. A break-up can be devastating but losing yourself in the right music offers an immediate way of reframing the situation and minimizing the suffering. If there is pent-up anger to be released, songs like “Beat it!” by Michael Jackson, “Hit the Road Jack!” or Carli Simon’s “You’re So Vain!” will remind you of your own self-worth and that you deserve better in life. 

“Music and Song: the Sounds of Hope” published in Positive Psychology News Daily reported increased happiness, less stress, reduced depression symptoms, greater autonomy, increased competence, hope and optimism through music. Research shows that children who are involved with music programs grow up to have lower rates of addictive behaviors, better academic performance and greater preparedness for college and the work force. 

Music has always been a part of my life and my daughter’s life. In fact, as a little girl, my daughter always went to sleep to the sound of music from a cassette-player (remember those?). One of her favourites was Joe Dassin. One day, the tape just snapped from overuse! I always listen to a CD when I go to bed at night and now I have an iPod which will make it easier to bring my music with me when I travel. 

Every society has their folk repertoire and my francophone heritage offered many beautiful songs to sing, from sweet lullabies to sing-along songs. I shared them with my daughter, my students and now, with my grandchildren who love to sing. 

Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair at the Festival du livre franco de l'Est in Casselman, Ontario this past weekend.

Last week, I spent three days at the “Festival du livre franco de l’Est” in Casselman. There were well planned musical interludes, storytelling and interviews with authors to entertain everyone present. The first night, Brian St-Pierre and his son Benoît entertained us. Brian is a well-known and respected Franco-Ontarian songwriter and singer. Another musical interlude was provided by Jojo, a dynamic singer who opens up her farm in Eastern Ontario and offers concerts that please both children and adults. The festival was crowned by a performance by the Marleau Sisters, a fixture for many years on the school and concert circuit. Music has this uplifting effect and no matter how tired you are at the end of the day, songs make you feel better. We left the Brisson Complex in good spirits despite the long hours we had put in. 

I love this quote from Mary Baker Eddy, “Health is not a condition of matter, but of Mind!” You can work your way through so many things with music. When my beloved Brian died of cancer in 2004, my dear friends Sharon and Yves burned a CD of Brian’s favourite songs. This music was played at the commemorative service and for a long time after, I listened to the mix of instrumental pieces and favourite songs. One of Brian’s favourites was “Amazing Grace” sung by Nana Mouskouri. This week I received an email with the André Rieu concert version. It sent shivers down my spine and tears rolled down my cheeks. Music can give you much needed courage. It can instill pride and devotion. That song certainly does! It is a timeless piece. 

Last Sunday, my friend Françoise, sister Diane and I headed over to the Rendez-vous for their annual Christmas concert. The hall had been beautifully decorated with Christmas trees, decorations and lights. The choir started out with some of the Christmas classic, French versions of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”, “Rudolf the Red-nose Reindeer” and more … Pastries and beverages were served at intermission and the second half of the concert turned into a New Year’s party sing-along where old-time songs like “La bastringue” had everyone clapping, tapping their foot and singing along. At the end, we all agreed the concert had done wonders to set the mood for the upcoming holidays. 

The night before, while having dinner with some of my writer friends, we came across Wayne Rostad, a very familiar singer, songwriter and storyteller from the Valley whose program On the Road Again was very popular on CBC Television. Wayne has a new CD out: Christmas in the Valley. My dad was a country and western fan and there has always been a soft spot in my heart for this kind of music. I asked Wayne where one can purchase his CD. “At the CD Warehouse!” he said. “And the proceeds go to CHEO. Don’t forget!” I plan to buy one before Christmas. Wayne Rostad will be at the Centrepointe Theater on Dec. 13th. 

So whether you are on the road again, cooking, decorating, wrapping presents or just plain relaxing at home, let music soothe your soul. Better still, sing along: “All I want is loving you and MUSIC, MUSIC, MUSIC!" And have a cup of cheer with that! 

Blessings to all!