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22.9.04

Music as Medicine

This story was just too perfect for blogging, so here it is. In an article (Housebound to be treated to concerts in their own living rooms, September 22) for The Independent, Arifa Akbar describes a program called Musicians on Call, which has gotten more than 1,500 players from 30 orchestras to volunteer to make house calls to people confined to home because of illness or disabilities:

Christopher Smith has always wanted to take his daughter to a classical music concert, but her severe disabilities mean she rarely leaves the house. But today, Georgia, five, will have her own private concert of favourite Beethoven pieces in her family's North London sitting room by members of the London Symphony Orchestra. [...]

Mr Smith, 60, who is Georgia's full-time carer, said the scheme made possible an experience for his daughter, who has a type of cerebral palsy in which she cannot talk or walk, would never otherwise have. "When she was about two, we discovered that she absolutely adored classical music and we think one of her favourites is Beethoven's 9th symphony. My wife, Caroline, and I have talked about whether we could risk taking her to a concert but we have worried that she could start making a noise, which is her way of talking."
How beautiful is that? Although the story is about the organization's work in Great Britain, here is how the group got started, according to their Web site:
Musicians On Call was originally founded by Michael Solomon and Vivek Tiwary in the course of their volunteer work with The Kristen Ann Carr Fund at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. After a concert sponsored by the Kristen Ann Carr Fund, a hospital staff member raised the issue that some of the patients had been unable to attend the performance either because they were in treatment or too sick to leave their rooms. In response, Michael, Vivek and the musician went from room to room to play for those patients who had been unable to attend the concert. The one-on-one interaction of patient and musician created a crucial intimacy; the expressions on the faces of friends and family members at the patients' bedsides revealed a deep sense of connection and release. Musicians On Call was born!
I think I know where my next charitable donation will be going. This is the best idea I have heard in a long time.

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