- Community associations
On music and mental health
My name is Rob Lutes. I’m a singer-songwriter, musician, and music educator who lives in Pointe-Clair, Quebec.
Music and mental health, it’s an enormous question and the answer could be enormous, but in general for me, music is just good for my brain and good for my body. Playing, singing, composing, exploring, listening to music, talking about music, all these things just make me happier. (They) make me feel better more fulfilled, more engaged, more excited about my life and the world. And in a world full of difficult things, particularly in recent years when it’s been fraught with politically charged events and difficulties, music is a place where there’s so much beauty. So many great things happening. It’s a place where I can find and others can find ways to tackle these things, cope with these things emotionally.
Music is filled with so many emotions and in my definition music is a shared experience. You know that someone else is feeling what you’re feeling. Whether you’re listening to a piece by Beethoven or a song by any songwriter, and no matter what it is they’re expressing, if it’s touching you then you know that you’re connecting. And to me that’s a huge part of the musical experience as a writer and a performer.
What I’m trying to do is connect and it’s the same with workshops. When I give workshops, I’m trying to connect and to me that’s the real center of health, that connection that you can find through music.
On songwriting and music history for seniors at home
I’ve been doing workshops on songwriting and music history, particularly Blues history since about 2000. And what got me started was basically touring and festivals where I would be going somewhere and they would say what kind of workshops could you offer.
And so, I developed workshops on these two things. When the pandemic hit, a person named Fred Agnus, who was director of an organization in Vaudreuil, Quebec called Rézo (or network) asked me one day. “Rob could you develop something for these people who can’t leave their homes?” They were isolated because of the pandemic and so I took about a week and I thought about it.
I thought, I’ve always been really into music history and history of songs and I really like researching and knowing about this. So I decided I’d do a history of popular music in America and Canada. It was an ambitious idea, but I thought I’ll just start and see what I can do. I had all this time because of the pandemic.
I wasn’t gigging normally and I had this program that I was giving virtually, so I got this experience of seeing the reaction of people in the programs when I would play songs, particularly older songs from the 1700s and 1800s. Their reaction and these were songs that they knew the metric for the program was it included songs that had survived that amount of time while so many others had fallen by the wayside.
So it was really Fred who got me started on this and then as I started doing this history of popular music. The word spread and other people started wanting me to do it and so I had more programs and then also people in the program would start requesting songs. So while I was already doing my research, I would start to research the songs that they asked for, and so my repertoire grew, and my understanding grew and it just kept expanding. Finding new songs from the past and it was somebody else that spurred me into doing this and I have thanked Fred for getting me started on this path.
On his path to his work in music and health
My path into this was really through two things. Well more than two things but one was simply loving music. Really enjoying it and never seeing it as a career. I never saw myself as a person who would do this full-time, but just loving, loving music. Number two, finally doing the traditional kind of career recording, releasing records, touring, that kind of pathway. The third would be this love of history. Something I’m really interested in. So those three things combined because as a songwriter, I feel like everything is building on something else. Nothing comes out of nowhere, musically or in any of the Arts.
Even if you’re completely breaking with a tradition, you’re breaking with something. You’re going in another direction, so it’s related. I find that really always helpful in my song writing, is the things you’ve heard that inspire you to write something. Working in the health field really came from someone else. And it taught me, I never thought about music and health honestly, it never occurred to me. It was just part of my life and everyone’s life, but it never occurred to me, the direct connection between music and mental health.
The more I do this, the more I understand how healing and how helpful music can be for people in all different ways, whatever kind of music you’re doing, so that’s been a a big part of it for me.Read More +