The Kenneth G. Murray Making a Difference through Music Award

Established by Dr. Sherry L. Dupuis, B.Mus. 1985, and Dr. Bryan Smale.

The talented undergraduate students in one of my Therapeutic Recreation courses at the University of Waterloo created this beautiful poem called Moral Citizenship: Changing a Life. The poem goes like this:

What if someone showed you…
that you are more than just a face.

What if someone told you…
that you were unique
that you are trusting
that they love you
that you matter
that you can make a difference.

What if you needed…
someone who understands
something to believe in - hope
a friend an opportunity to shine
a new beginning.

What if you felt…
that you are an important part of something bigger.

What if this was real…
Who would that someone be...
How would your life change…

After that class, I sat and reflected on the poem and the questions asked at the end of it. It became very clear to me that that "someone" for me was Mr. Kenneth G. Murray.

Mr. Murray is one of the most generous, highly ethical, compassionate, inspirational and selfless individuals I know. He cares deeply about the welfare of others around him and of communities. I was blessed to have had the opportunity to work closely with, learn from, and be inspired by Mr. Murray for twelve years as the Director of the Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Program at the University of Waterloo. Mr. Murray made me feel like I could make a difference and, no matter how crazy my ideas might have seemed, he always believed in me. When we sometimes failed, he was always standing there, arms outstretched with encouragement for us to get back up, learn from those mistakes, and try again. My life was changed in significant ways -- was so much richer -- because he was in my life. And, I am a better person for knowing him.

As I got to know Mr. Murray more, we realized we also both had a deep love of the arts, especially music. My undergraduate degree was in Music from Queen's. When I left Queen's I saw first-hand the power of music to connect with persons living with dementia in my first job at a long-term care home. In my subsequent research on the impacts of music for people living with dementia and their families I conducted for my Master's thesis I witnessed how music could express important aspects of personhood and humanity for persons living with dementia. Mr. Murray and I believe strongly in the power of music to heal, transform, make whole, change lives.

As my husband Bryan and I thought about how we could celebrate Mr. Murray's 90th birthday -- celebrate the man -- we wanted to try to inspire young students, young musicians, the way Mr. Murray inspired us. We also wanted to create another Ken Murray legacy so that young people long into the future could continue to be inspired and reminded that they can be that "someone" for others in their lives. This is how the Kenneth G. Murray Making a Difference through Music Award came to be. We hope many young musicians will generously share their talents with others and use their music to enhance the lives of others and/or their communities.