Music has the Power to Heal Pain.
(Part 1)

Jenny Lam / Music Therapist

Drawing from the Power of Music to Lead a Life with Meaning.

Jenny Lam was inspired by a sense of mission to reach out to people in need with the power of music. We asked her about the potential she finds in music and why she left a promising career in finance to embark on her mission as a music therapist.

I fell in love with the extraordinary sound of the violin, a sound that transcends the human voice.

As a child I listened to Hong Kong pops from the 1960s and ‘70s with my mother. My favorites were Bai Kwong and Li Xianglan (Shirley Yamaguchi). I still remember admiring their beautiful voices on cassette. My mother started me on violin lessons when I was 10. I fell in love with the instrument, the first I ever learned, as soon as I heard its elegant, sharp sound. The tones of the violin are so completely different from the human voice.

Now I look back fondly to my days of passion for the violin. At first, I picked up classical pieces I knew very well, to play simply for my own pleasure. Just to see how well I do, I took an exam given by the Associated Board of Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM), at the age of 17. On my first trial, I passed grade 7 with distinction honors, and two years later, passed grade 8 which is the highest assessment with merit honors.

Started playing the violin at 10 years old; although Jenny didn’t pursue a professional career, she received top grades for her musical certification.

Red Cross charity activities brought the philanthropic spirit into my life.

I had my first experience with charity work at about the same time. My secondary school signed us up for a charity program organized by the Red Cross, and there we first learned basic knowledge of first aid and care techniques. With that knowledge I started joining their other volunteer activities of various types. My involvement at the Red Cross deepened month by month so that I was included in the coordinator team sometimes. I gained extensive experience working with vulnerable people facing physical, emotional, and social challenges. As those months lengthened into years, it became second nature for me to reach out to those in need, no matter who they were. The spirit of philanthropy became a driving force in my life.

After university I started working as a certified public accountant in an auditing agency. I chose the profession for its stability, long having abandoned the ambition of becoming a professional musician. While work as a CPA was enjoyable, the workload was grueling and unsustainable. So, I switched to a new position at a reputable local bank, something that was similar but appeared to be less demanding. The appearance was deceiving: the work was just as tough as before, and it got tougher over time. When at last my health began to suffer, I lost sight of any advantage in pressing ahead in the same direction. In the back of my mind I longed for something truly fulfilling, an occupation that reached out to people in need of help, something like my charity work at the Red Cross.

Starting from when she was in secondary school, Jenny was a part of the Hong Kong Red Cross; starting as a youth member, eventually becoming an adult member. Through her volunteer work, her philanthropic spirit grew.

Music therapy was a calling from God.

I then came across a life-changing book that introduced me to the vocation of music therapy, a form of clinical intervention that uses music to manage and enhance human well-being. In its pages I learned how music came into the lives of an autistic child, a lonely senior, and other vulnerable persons to imbue them with the strength to thrive. The discovery of what music could do, how music could make people better, was a defining influence in my life. While I knew that music was good for us, it never crossed my mind that its power was a scientifically proven phenomenon.

My next step, it became clear, was to become a music therapist. The instructor of a basic music therapy workshop had encouraged me by telling me that I would make a very good one. But where I lived, Hong Kong, was without any full-fledged institutions for training music therapists. So, I made the big decision to go to Australia, leaving behind a stable career and steady income. Looking back today, I partly credit the decision to my faith as a Christian. It seemed proper to me, to support others through therapy throughout my life. By doing good works I could stand confident in the life I live.

After her career as a banker, she spent 2 years studying music therapy in Australia. There, she felt first-hand the cultural differences in Australia, and the difference in work culture compared to her long laborious working days in Hong Kong.

Read the Part 2

Jenny Lam / Music Therapist
Jenny Lam of Hong Kong was on track in a promising career in finance, first at an auditing agency and later at a reputable local bank. Then she decided to follow her heart and take a master’s program in music therapy. By 2011 she was off and running as a professional music therapist.
Jenny did charity work at the Red Cross as a teenager. The experience later shaped her life as a therapist for anyone in need, no matter who they are or the problems they suffer. Today she is also active in end-of-life care.

Interview Date:

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