Promoting Mental Health & Community Connection
The first week of May is Mental Health Week in Canada, and, to celebrate, we’re proud to highlight the success of a groundbreaking music program providing joy and comfort to seniors throughout Ontario—TSOUND Connections. Made possible with support from TD Bank Group, this initiative has touched the lives of more than 1,500 seniors since its launch in 2020, offering enriching musical experiences that promote positive health and well-being for members of a particularly vulnerable and isolated group.
“Our organization exists to bring music and connection, and we are immensely grateful to have TD as a partner in this shared vision,” said our CEO, Mark Williams. “Their unwavering commitment to supporting music and the arts has been instrumental in helping us expand our reach and impact. We are honoured to work alongside such a passionate and visionary partner and to bring the transformative power of music to people everywhere.”
“We believe that music has the power to connect us by transcending language, gender, age, ethnicity, and religion,” added Robyn Small, TD Bank Group’s Senior Manager, Philanthropy. “Through the TD Ready Commitment, our corporate citizenship platform, we’re so proud to support the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s TSOUND Connections program, a trailblazing example of how music can help break down barriers and provide meaningful, inclusive experiences to seniors who may be socially or physically isolated.”
TSOUND Connections was created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on social isolation among seniors in care. The program partners with organizations such as the Alzheimer Society of Peel (ASP), Baycrest@Home, and Room 217 Foundation to provide life-enriching performances to seniors living in long-term-care homes. TSO and Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra (TSYO) musicians connect with seniors virtually three times a week for 30-minute sessions of music and conversation, using music as a means to improve well-being and reduce feelings of social isolation.
Now in its third year, the program has become an essential pillar of our community offerings, providing free programming to long-term-care, retirement, and assisted-living homes, as well as organizations that offer virtual adult day programs. Developed and led by the TSO’s Education & Community Engagement team, the initiative includes robust training for participating musicians, to prepare them to interact with seniors in care environments. Delivered by Room 217 Foundation, the “music care” training focuses on the context and impact of music care within the healthcare system, supporting and engaging with seniors using music, and understanding the benefits of integrating music into larger healthcare practices.
Eleven TSYO members were excited to volunteer for virtual sessions once again this season. The impact of TSOUND Connections is evident in the powerful and transformative experiences shared by the TSYO musicians themselves:
“TSOUND Connections has allowed me to reflect and re-evaluate the motive behind why I want to pursue music as a career—I can positively influence the lives of others by doing something I love, playing the clarinet.” —TSYO Clarinet Sarah Darragh (age 19)
“I come out of every meeting thinking, ‘Ahh, that’s what music is truly about!’ These experiences inspire me to practise harder and work toward a beautiful cause.” —TSYO Keyboard Irene Huang (age 16)
“I believe a major part of being a musician is sharing our music with others and making a positive impact on our community. TSOUND Connections creates meaningful memories for both the performer and the listener. It allows young musicians to develop an appreciation for the social connections made possible by music.” —TSYO Violin Cynthia Ding (age 17)
“TSOUND Connections reminds me why I play music. It is more than just performing for people and hoping that they enjoy the music. It also has the purpose of evoking emotions which cannot be described through spoken word.” —TSYO Double Bass Evita Lalonde (age 16)
“The program has shown me the powerful and transformative impact music can have on seniors in our community. My favourite part is seeing residents sing and dance along to their favourite songs.” —TSYO Violin Joelle Crigger (age 19)
“Music has a way of transporting people to a different time and place, and I can see that during the TSOUND Connections calls when they remember an old favourite song or piece. I find TSOUND Connections very personally rewarding. I love to bring music to people who can’t get out to concerts.” —TSO Violin Angelique Toews
“We are deeply grateful for the TSO’s support. Thanks to TSOUND Connections, our members can enjoy a live virtual TSO session tailored to their needs, with the soloist engaging them with various instruments in a peaceful and relaxing environment. When a familiar tune is played, such as ‘The Sound of Music’, ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’, or ‘Moon River’, our members can’t help but sing along and tap their feet, creating an atmosphere of pure joy. The bond between the performers and our members is heartwarming, and the feedback we receive is overwhelmingly positive. The experience provides a safe and welcoming space for our members to share their life stories and reminisce, which is invaluable. We want to express our sincere thanks to the TSO for their continued dedication and kindness in providing this wonderful wellness experience for our members.” —ASP Representative
Learn more about our Education & Community Engagement programs.