“Music As Medicine” And “Music Saved the Street Children of Venezuela” – September 2007

Dr. Oliver Sacks, Professor of Clinical Neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, author of Awakenings, has been playing the piano since childhood and continues to play. He uses music to help his patients recover after different illnesses. One of his patients, a stroke victim , was unable to speak. Dr. Sacks had a musician come into the room and play her favorite song. She was then able to sing the words to the song while listening to the music. Dr. Sacks says music is “the profoundest non-chemical medication for his patients and music has the power to organize”. In a new article entitled “Stroke Patients Make Music To Better Health” (Aug 3, 2007) by Dr. Sean Kenniff from CBS Broadcasting Inc. , “Dr. Sean Kenniff studied one stroke patient who is walking , talking and even singing because of music therapy. Trevor Gibbons suffered a stroke a couple of years ago while working on a window and fell four stories and landed flat on his back. As a result of the accident, Gibbons was unable to speak and even move and is being treated at Beth Abraham Rehab Center…in the Bronx, New York, which is a pioneer in the field of music therapy.”

“Music As Medicine” (Aug 7,2007) by Allison Ross Staff Writer from the Portland Press Herald Maine Sunday Telegram. Ellen Bowman , a music therapist from Maine, is speaking at the annual world wide European Music Therapy Congress in the Netherlands Aug 15-19. She will share her work titled “Passing Songs” and look for new music therapy ideas to bring home with her. She finds the songs “that remind patients of good and happy times in their lives, helping them to move away from thoughts of pain and providing a stimulus for reflection.” Bowman says, ” Music can transport you back to a time in the past, to when you first heard a certain song. It takes you to a happier time.… Music is sort of a shelter in times of despair and pain.” For the article go to http://pressherald.mainetoday.com/story_pf.php?id=125790&ac=PHnws

“Musical Is the Way” (Aug 12,2007) from The Times Of India, Calcutta Times. “Music therapy can calm those frayed nerves.” Psychiatrist, Dr. Shyam Lulla discusses the value of music in it’s ability to “lower your blood pressure, heart rate and pulse rate and make you mentally happy; it can help the psychosomatic component in you, relieving you from anxiety and tension.” Deforia Lane, Ph.D., Associate Director of the Ireland Cancer Center and Director of Music Therapy for the University Hospitals Health System in Cleveland used classical music “to help her sleep”; Kenny G to relax by; and hymns to raise her spirits “to aid in her own recovery” from breast cancer. Lane’s research “found that participating in a music therapy session increased levels of S-IgA, or Salivary Immunoglobin A, an immune system booster. She also measured the levels of S-IgA in children before and after music therapy treatments.” Children receiving the music therapy experienced “significant increase in IgA.” In a recent study “by researchers from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio, US, report that up to 21% of chronic pain and depression by up to 25% were reduced by music therapy”. Michael Thaut, Ph.D., researcher and head of the Center for Biomedical Research in Music at Colorado State University is “using music therapy with stroke victims as part of their rehabilitation.” Thaut says, “The brain’s motor system has a strong capacity to use rhythm as a timekeeper to guide and organize physical functions. Those who listen to 30 minutes of music during their rehab showed significant improvements in their ability to walk faster and more steadily than those whose rehab doesn’t include music.” Dr. Bharati Kulkarni, Pediatric Surgeon , says surgeons use music in the operating theater during surgery to “create a positive aura in the minds of surgeons while they are operating and this aura or the positive thoughts can even influence and soothe the patient on the operating table.”

“Music Saved the Street Children of Venezuela-Could It Work for Scotland Too? (Aug. 13,2007) by Ben Hoyle from the Times Online UK. ” In the violent slums of Venezuela, free classical music lessons have transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of children and created an unlikely production of virtuosos. For 32 years El Sistema (the System) has tackled the “spiritual poverty” among some of South America’s poorest street children by teaching them to play Bach, Beethoven and Mahler in orchestras.” On Friday at the Edinburgh International Festival the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela , one of over 200 orchestras reaching over 250,000 children, will play a concert arranged by project organizers who hope to “rescue a generation of children on one of Scotland’s most notorious housing estates.” At the rehearsal will be families from the Raploch estate hoping to change the lives of their children. Raploch has “widespread unemployment and parents are scared for their children.” The families want “to keep their children off the streets … drinking …Tonic Wine.” From the Youth Orchestras of Venezuela have come Gustavo Dudamel, 26, the new music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and from the ghetto of Caracas, Edicson Ruiz, “17, the youngest –ever member of the Berlin Philharmonic.” The transformation project will start slowly with a 120 Million Pounds for new schools, nurseries, 900 new homes, sports facilities and health facilities. Venezuela’s, El Sistema began “humbly with a handful of children playing in a garage”. Today the Youth Orchestras of Venezuela attract “more than 15 Million Pounds a year of government funding”.
For the article go to
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article2246441.ece

“Redemption Songs: The Street Children Saved By Music” (Aug 17, 2007) by Lisa Blackmore from The Independent News Media/UK. ” From the fetid slums and bullet-scarred barrios of Venezuela, one man’s vision of bringing classical works to the masses has meant salvation for the hordes of outcast children on the streets.” Maestro Jose Antonio Abreu began this program . He was trained as an economist and as a classical musician. The oil wealth of Venezuela did not trickle “down to the poor majority”.

Javier Moreno, general manager of the System, “We’re interested in creating citizens with all the values they need to exist in society, responsibility, teamwork, respect, co-operation and work ethic. Maestro Abreu sums it up perfectly. He says an orchestra is the only group where people get together to reach agreements and they reach those agreements producing something beautiful.”

“Instruments Of Healing” (Aug 17,2007) by Michelle Lotter from the North Shore Times Auckland. Richard Chen, an18 year old violinist, studies medicine with the desire to “develop a new medical practice which embraces the idea that music can aid the healing process.” Chen says, “Music is my passion, it’s what I do to relax.”

We are beginning a new school year which is a new opportunity to use classical music in the classrooms during math and English composition class and after school during homework time. Classical music played in the background helps students learn to relax, allowing them to do a better job on their work. The new school year is also a wonderful opportunity to start learning a musical instrument to learn discipline, cooperation, teamwork, motivation, concentration and self-esteem . Studying a musical instrument develops millions of new connections, synapses, between nerve cells in the brain. Many of the worlds scientists , doctors, and mathematicians are also musicians. July’s newsletter was a testimonial to the many Valedictorians, Salutatorians and grads of 2007 who are scholars and musicians.

The question of the month:
Mr. E F asked “how can music help a person with Alzheimer’s?”


My answer: 

In a recent article, Oliver Sacks, MD discussed the critical role music plays in the therapy for different medical diseases. Music stimulates memory in Alzheimer patients and activates muscles with patients effected with Parkinson’s. The playing of music and/or participation, in some form , activates nerve cells in the brain.
It is very important to choose the right music for each patient. Music that they were once fond of can help re- stimulate memory. Dr Sacks had a patient suffering with severe Alzheimer’s. The patient “responded to ballroom music by taking his wife in his arms and looking into her eyes and dancing. This was the first time he had recognized her in 3 ½ years.

She said, I’ve missed him so much”. For Jewish residents living in a nursing home “Yiddish music is best”. Patients in their 70 and 80s with Alzheimer’s are fond of Big Band Era Music. The most important thing to remember is to play the music they loved best. “Memory says Dr. Sacks is a key to a sense of self (z.10).” At a Veterans Hospital in Virginia , the medical staff and I went to visit a patient afflicted with Alzheimer’s.

When we walked into his room, he was talking in incoherent sentences. I asked if he would like classical music or jazz ? He indicated he’d like classical music. I played “Meditation” from the Opera “Thais” by Jules Massenet. He began to speak coherently in full sentences. The medical staff was delighted ! I explained to the staff that if they played music for him that he enjoyed, everyday, his quality of life would improve.

Classical music has the power to organize the brain while listening to it as background music while you are doing your homework , to help you relax after a hard day of work or while doing exercises. Begin listening or playing your musical instrument for 30 minutes at a time. It helps because of its highly developed mathematics and therefore exercises the brain as physical exercise exercises the body. For more scientific evidence, medical evidence, and musical therapy refer to my book The Secret of Teaching Science & Math Through Music:

Go to www.madelinefrankviola.com and tap on my book to order.
Musical Notes On Math” teachs your child fractions and decimals the fun way through the rhythm of music, the Winner of the Parent To Parent Adding Wisdom Award.

To see a one page math to rhythm tip sheet here tap on link :
www.madelinefrankviola.com then tap on, at the top of the page, “Musical Notes On Math” and click on tips on how to use my book This September if you have a question about the power of music for education and healing … what would your specific question be? Tap on my web site below and look on the left side to where it says ask me a question: www.madelinefrankviola.com

“For Talented Blind Man, Four Senses Are Better Than One” (Aug 6,2007) by Julie Whiteman from The Student Operated Press “Singer and songwriter Marvin Whiteman was born on August 21, 1952 in Wellsburg, West Virginia.

Marvin was born two months premature and weighed only two pounds when he was born…..While in an incubator, he developed a condition ….that left him totally blind for the rest of his life .” His parents “focused on the senses and health that he did have and raised an educated , well rounded, talented man who has touched many people through not only his life, but his amazing music ministry.” At six years of age his parents Chuck and Jo’Ann Whiteman sent him to the WV School for the Blind in Romney, WV., 3 1/2 hours from home. Marvin’s parent wanted to give him the best well rounded education possible and because of the distance, Marvin had to live at the school .In the third grade he began to study classical piano and joined the choir. He came home after finishing the 8th grade and completed high school in Wellsburg, West Virginia. He continued through high school and college with his piano studies and singing in the choir. He received his Psychology degree from Liberty State College in West Liberty .All through school he worked in several bands playing piano and did solo singing.
After graduation he worked for the International Christian Braille Mission, ICBM. “Marvin traveled quite a bit representing ICBM at different churches and functions to gain support and educate about blind people.
This is when Marvin started to sing and play the piano in churches.” He was so “well liked by his audiences” that in 1996 he pursued “his music ministry full time…..for countless revivals, retreats, church meetings, vacation bible schools, church camps, dinners and other events.” To read more on his amazing life through music go to
http://www.thesop.org/index.php?id=6906

The following two articles discuss the value of playing classical music to soothe our pets:
“A Dog’s (Good) Life And, At Area Kennels, It’s Not Bad For Cats, Too” . (August 11, 2007) by Teresa Dunham from The Winchester Star in Winchester, VA. and “Pampered Pets Businesses Catering To Pets Flouish” (Aug. 15,2007) from the Suburban Chicago News. com/Herald News.

Classroom Update On Using Classical Music in the Public School Classrooms and while doing homework after school:

“How the Arts Make Kids Smarter” (July 7, 2007) by Mary Belle McCorkle and Shirley Kiser from the Tucson Citizen, Tucson, Arizona. Gene Jones, a retired businessman moved to Tucson in the spring of 2000 and “became president of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra board, attended a national conference for people running symphony orchestras. There, he heard of an experimental program in North Carolina that brought orchestra players into the classrooms not just to expose kids to the pleasures of music, but also to help classroom teachers impart curriculum and teach basic skills.” This North Carolina program was so successful in raising children’s test scores that Jones decided to fly several of the Tucson educators to North Carolina to see the program at work. They were so excited about the North Carolina program that they decided to implement a similar program in Arizona . “Seven years later, Opening Minds through the Arts, the program they excitedly sketched out on their way home, is in 36 TUSD schools, serving 17,000 students for 32 weeks a year. It’s been so successful at pleasing teachers and parents, and raising test scores, that Harvard University has studied it as a model for arts integration.” To read the entire article go to :
http://www.tucsoncitizen.com/daily/opinion/56776.php

Performing at Hospitals, Rehab Hospitals, and Retirement Homes

  • Madeline Frank, violist has shared her music with patients at local Hospitals and Rehab Hospitals in Virginia. If anyone has an experience they would like to share on the benefits of classical music please write me and I will include it in the October 2007 newsletter.

Wishing you and your family a good September from your Non-Invasive Medicine…Music Expert, Madeline

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