Often, when I mention the concept of music and healing, I get reactions that are informed by music therapy, alternative or energy healing approaches, or The Mozart Effect, written by Don Campbell, published in 1997. However, there is a much larger umbrella that I wish for these terms in coming together, particularly through the work of a community using music in some way to facilitate some kind of healing.
For instance, this evening, I will be part of a performance of Handel’s “Foundling Hospital Anthem” at Beloit College. This piece was something he had composed and performed for the benefit of the Foundling Hospital, which opened in 1739 in London to care for babies and children left in the streets to die. From handelhouse.org:
Stimulated by “motives of the purest benevolence and humanity” (Charles Burney), Handel’s involvement began in 1749 with a concert in aid of the hospital’s chapel building work. In 1750, he donated the chapel organ and from that year onwards Messiah was performed under his direction on an annual basis for the Hospital’s benefit. It is estimated that within a decade Handel had generated income of £10,000.
(To hear the piece, check out the Academy of Ancient Music’s performance.)
Today, in a completely different way, Favio Chavez in Paraguay heals the broken spirits in his community by turning landfill trash into musical instruments. Those who use his instruments make up a Landfill Harmonic. Take a look at his Kickstarter campaign here.
Perhaps one of the most common music and healing models out there is the benefit concert or fundraiser that goes toward the costs of one who is ailing. Most recently, I learned that Ryan Anthony, a fellow Cleveland Institute of Music alumnus and current principal trumpet of the Dallas Symphony, has been struggling with myeloma. To help raise money for his costs not covered by insurance, an oboe studio at SMU decided to create a fundraising project. One can join in helping by donating either to the online effort at Crowdrise or at their benefit concert in May.
In what creative way can you help others, either individually or as a community, heal?
It might be as simple as sharing your music with neighbors or with local nursing home residents. Some may see such sharing as a little pick-me-up in their day, and others may take it as something that makes a major difference. In this light, read Leonard Bernstein’s words (thanks to Lisa’s Clarinet Shop for posting this quote):
“It’s the artists of the world, the feelers and thinkers, who will ultimately save us, who can articulate, educate, defy, insist, sing and shout the big dreams. Only the artists can turn the ‘Not-Yet’ into reality. All right, how do you do it? Like this: find out what you can do well, uniquely well – that’s what studying is for, to find out what you can do particularly well. You. Unique. And then do it for all you’re worth. And I don’t mean ‘Do your own thing,’ in the hip sense. That’s passivity, that’s dropping out, that’s not doing anything. I’m talking about doing, which means (another old-fashioned phrase) serving your community, whether that community is a tiny town or six continents. And there’s no time to lose, which makes your position twice as difficult because you’re caught in a paradox. You see, you’ve got to work fast, but not be in a hurry. You’ve got to be patient, but not passive. You’ve got to recognize the hope that exists in you, but not let impatience turn it into despair. Does that sound like double-talk? Well, it is, because the paradox exists. We’ll help you as much as we can – that’s why we’re here – but it is you who must produce it, with your new atomic minds, your flaming, angry hope, and your secret weapon of art.”