For Taylor Kurta, the start of her journey to her PhD in Aging, Health and Well-being can be traced back to grade nine when she first started playing guitar, singing, and writing her own music. From this early age, Taylor knew that music would always be a part of her life.
Taylor's musicianship and song-writing skills continued to flourish and in 2013 she was honoured as the inaugural winner of Canada's Walk of Fame/RBC Emerging Artist Music Mentorship Program. Around this time she enrolled in a college program for music production. It was here that Taylor was introduced to the practice of music therapy - she had found her passion.
A passion for music and making an impact come together
Growing up, Taylor witnessed the age-related stigma her grandparents faced in the health care system. Particularly, the experiences of her two grandfathers inspired Taylor to conduct research and produce scholarship that advocates for compassionate and contextualized health care. One of her grandfathers entered long-term care at the age of 58 after being diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. Taylor saw how the medicalization of long-term care depleted her grandfather's previously vibrant disposition. Similarly, Taylor's other grandfather, a holocaust survivor, was subjected to insensitive treatment in healthcare settings.
Drawing from her skills as a singer-songwriter and music therapist, and her experiences as a granddaughter of older-adults in care, Taylors research aims to use collaborative song writing with people living with dementia as a tool to expose and challenge the harmful consequence of dementia-stigma.
In her research, Taylor will collaborate with people living with dementia to write, record, and create music videos to challenge assumptions related to the capabilities of people living with dementia. She hopes to create a platform with people living with dementia to use the arts as a medium for expression of personhood, and resistance to social stigmatization.
"My time in the department of Recreation and Leisure Studies has been inspiring. I am constantly reaching outside of my comfort zone to explore new ways of knowing and understanding the world around me. I love how thinking outside-the-box is celebrated, not discouraged".