‘Music speaks words and feelings we can’t express, and everyone can enjoy it in their own way.’
For over 30 years, Aidan Purnell has radiated joy throughout St. Joseph’s Villa with his gift of music. He has seen the Villa campus evolve tremendously over the years but has remained a vital element in the life and wellbeing of our residents in long-term care, and more recently at Margaret’s Place Hospice.
Aidan’s love for music goes back to when he was seven years old. Though he didn’t come from a musical family, his mother noticed his keen interest and nourished it with the purchase of his first guitar.
Just 11 years later, Aidan began playing professionally – playing gigs at local venues and festivals. With his mother working at the Villa, Aidan found an opportunity to regularly play for residents and understood the impact these shows could have on the residents.
“It was amazing to see the instantaneous impact,” says Aidan. “Residents started tapping their toes, clapping their hands and singing along. I could feel the energy almost immediately.”
Feeling fulfilled from the joy he was bringing to the Villa, Aidan knew he was onto something. It became clear he wanted to follow this path and aim to touch the lives of many through familiar, fun, upbeat and moving music.
“I could see and feel the power of music working in front of me. I’ve often had seniors with memory loss or difficulties speaking be able to sing along with every word of their favourite song perfectly.”
The Power of Music
Music has such a profound healing power. Everyone experiences it differently; it can transport a resident to a cherished memory, it can soothe, or sometimes just bring a smile or a tear when it’s needed the most. This realization encouraged Aidan to develop several types of music programs to serve residents of long-term care and senior homes in the area, including one-to-one music therapy, small group programs, large concert settings and during COVID, virtual programs.
In the early days, all of Aidan’s shows were played in the Villa auditorium. Residents were portered down from various wings. Today, however, most of the programs are in individual home areas to smaller groups allowing him to meet and connect with residents more intimately.
When Margaret’s Place opened in September, Aidan began providing one-to-one music therapy for the residents of the hospice. These weekly music sessions allow residents to reminisce on different stages of their life or simply give them a pleasant break from necessary medical treatments. It’s also a time when families can bond by requesting meaningful songs and singing along together.
“It’s why musicians do what they do,” says Aidan. “There’s no better feeling than to have a deep, soulful connection with someone through music. Music speaks words and feelings we can’t express, and everyone can enjoy it in their own way.”
Thank you, Aidan, for spreading the joy on our Campus of Care! You can learn more about Aidan at his website, purnellmusic.com, and visit him on social media at:
Help us continue to bring music to our residents’ ears through a Gift of Care! Your Gift of Care helps us provide the vital services and programs needed, like music therapy, at St. Joseph’s Villa and Margaret’s Place Hospice. Give a Gift of Care today!