Helping veterans with music
Carl Dixon holds up a handmade guitar strap that was gifted to him by Music Heals Veterans. The strap is inscribed with Carl's name and the Music Heals Veterans slogan "Where words fail, music speaks".
Local veterans and first responders learned about the therapeutic power of music.
On Feb. 17, at Zion Lutheran Church, Music Heals Veterans hosted a unique songwriting workshop that taught 20 participants about the healing elements of songwriting and music.
Music Heals Veterans program director Chris Blackstock said that the goal of the event was to bring the therapeutic power of music to serving and retired members of the Canadian Armed Forces along with first responders and medical professionals who are dealing with the invisible wounds of their service.
The workshop was conducted by renowned Canadian musician Carl Dixon – a former member of Coney Hatch, The Guess Who and April Wine.
According to Blackstock, Dixon was a perfect match for the workshop as he could connect with the participants through his own traumatic experience of having survived a car crash and found healing through the power of music.
“Most of our participants have PTSD or they have some type of physical injury that they’re recovering from, so the reason why we invited Carl is because he knows so much about what we've gone through as it's similar to what he's gone through,” said Blackstock. “We are lucky he had time in his busy schedule to come and share his writing methods with us and hopefully we can write some songs in the future.”
Dixon said that he felt so honoured to be able to help support the Music Heals Veterans organization as he knows first-hand about the healing powers of music.
“To be able to help these people emerge from a trauma in some way is very important use of my abilities and my own experience,” said Dixon. "Music has unbelievable deep connections into our thoughts and our emotions as any of us who has ever heard a song and has been triggered immediately back to some place in our memory can attest to. So I’m here to help these people tap into that inner potential and channel their feelings through music.”
One of the participants, Bonnie Savoie, said that the workshop was a great experience as it was nice to see and hear from a civilian perspective.
“He shared his own experiences of surviving a trauma and living with PTSD that a lot of people in the room could connect with,” said Savoie, who served in the military reserve and regular force for more than 17 years. “He spoke about the isolation and darkness that we often feel and how music and songwriting can help us to come out of that black hole and begin to heal.”
Later that evening, workshop participants and other members of the community gathered at the Pig and Pint for the Music Heals Veterans fundraiser. With performances from local artists and Carl Dixon himself, the event raised an impressive $1,400 in support of the Music Heals Veterans organization.