It’s a gift from the heart of a music therapist to the patients and families she works with.

Ruth Eliason, a music therapist at St. Paul’s Hospital, has recorded a CD of soothing melodies, the sale of which will support music therapy services for patients and family members on the Palliative Care Unit where she works.

“Music is a gift that helps us reflect our experience and this CD will support the work that brings the gift of music to patients and family members within Palliative Care Services,” Eliason said.

Eliason, who sings and plays the piano and guitar, has loved music since she was a child. “It was a big part of our family growing up, thanks to my mom and dad,” she said.

Musician Ruth Eliason

Ruth Eliason, a music therapist at St. Paul’s Hospital, is launching a CD of soothing melodies called “Songs for the Heart,” the sale of which will benefit the Palliative Care music program at SPH.

Eliason and her siblings were enrolled in music lessons, choirs and bands when they were young, and she grew up singing with her sisters, one of whom sings
background vocals and plays piano on the album.

“That is one reason why it was so special to be able to include my sister on this CD,” Eliason noted.

“Songs for the Heart,” a collection of songs to soothe and uplift, will be launched October 8 at a ceremony in the day room of the Palliative Care Unit at St. Paul’s Hospital.  It’s a home-grown album, recorded in Saskatoon, and the songs on it are favourites from Eliason’s work, and reflect a wide range of themes, from friendship to love to family.

“I tried to choose songs that I knew were favourites of patients and family members – songs like ‘Moon River’, ‘Edelweiss’ and ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’,” she said. “Other songs are ones that I have discovered which have personal meaning to me – songs like ‘Across the Great Divide’, ‘Deep Peace’ or ‘Give Yourself to Love’.  I have always loved the music of Connie Kaldor, so I was able to record her ‘Canoe Song’ with cello and piano as accompaniment.”

Songs for the Heart CD CoverThe music is directed at helping patients in Palliative Care and their families.  “It is my hope that the CD will offer encouragement and balm for the hearts of those who are listening,” she said.

Sales of the CD will also help those patients and families. As production of the CD was funded through donations, all the sales can go back into the music therapy program in Palliative Care.  The funds will be used to purchase supplies like blank discs for patient recordings, iPod and docking stations for portable music therapy work with patients, recordings for relaxation groups, as well as instruments for patients and families to use.

On the CD, Eliason is joined by Esther Rabuka on vocals and piano, Carman Rabuka on cello and by Carissa Klopoushak on violin.  The music is recorded simply, which helps convey the message that the songs speak of.

“I have been involved in a few CD projects in the past – mostly in a group or ensemble,” Eliason noted. “This is the first recording where I have had the creative license to choose the songs and make the music myself.”

Eliason believes strongly in the power of music in our lives. “If we choose to use it, it is a companion through all the stages in life; through our ups and downs, trials and joys,” she said. “I have witnessed the amazing connection that individuals and families have to music through my work.  It was my goal to be able to offer songs to uplift and soothe in the hopes that this powerful connection could be strengthened through listening to the CD.  There are lots of people who believe in me and who encouraged me in practical ways, to do a project like this, so I am thankful for their support.”

“Songs for the Heart” will be available for purchase at the launch, as well as at the St. Paul’s Foundation Gift Shop and McNally Robinson Booksellers.