Marlborough’s ‘VioLynne’ shares her musical gift with others

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Marlborough’s ‘VioLynne’ shares her musical gift with others
Lynne “VioLynne” Canavan. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

MARLBOROUGH – Lynne “VioLynne” Canavan has a gift she can’t help but share.

The 61-year-old Marlborough resident spends her days bouncing around the state with her violin, routinely playing her instrument at different assisted-living facilities, wedding ceremonies, restaurants and other miscellaneous events.

“This is what I love to do. People say, ‘Oh, you have to work nights and weekends?’ This isn’t work for me. Even when I was working a full-time job and had to play three weddings on the weekend — that’s not work to me. This isn’t work — this is who I am,” Canavan told the Community Advocate.

Canavan started playing the violin as a fifth-grade student in Connecticut. Her school district, known for having an excellent music education program, afforded her opportunities to perform in musicals and attend competitions in Philadelphia, New York City and Canada.

Canavan attended the University of Lowell, now UMass Lowell, where she earned an undergraduate degree in music performance. Canavan went into the insurance industry, preferring the stability and reliable salary. While raising her children, she also decided to accept a 10-hour-per-week job at an assisted-living facility. It turned out to be the perfect opportunity.

“I was like, ‘Wow, this is really fun!’ Then, the memory care director at the time said, ‘Oh, I hear you play the violin. Can you come play the violin?’ And this was the start of me playing violin professionally. I connected with these folks like you wouldn’t believe. I thought it was so cool,” she said.

Growing up with parents in the music industry, Canavan knew all the “old” songs. Eventually, a resident played piano alongside her, and before long she was on the monthly activity calendar. The gig — which she called “one of the coolest things in her career” — turned into a career. Soon, she became the assisted-living facility’s full-time activity director and then the sales marketing director.

It was great, she said, but then something happened: “I was getting the itch to play music again.”

“I had that epiphany that I’m getting old and I need to follow my passion. I have a purpose in life. I know I do. I don’t need money to live. I live very simply and I’m happy, but I needed to do something with this music thing. There was something inside me telling me I need to bring this to people,” Canavan said.

She handed in her notice in February and became a full-time musician, and she’s “loved every moment” since, she said. Nowadays, Canavan goes to assisted-living facilities; her electric violin allows her to walk around the room and connect with the residents. It makes her program truly interactive, she said.

“It’s music therapy at its best,” she said. “When you’re a musician, there’s something deep down. You need to compose. You need to play. How am I going to share this gift that I have? I wanted to put a smile on people’s faces and help them have a better day. There are a lot of lonely people at these senior-living facilities. How can we, as musicians, touch these people’s lives?”

Canavan plays violin — and sings — all around the state. If your senior-living facility, restaurant, wedding, or other event would benefit from “VioLynne,” contact her at 508-308-2339.

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