November 7, 2012 by rizkynurs1101040049
Musician drums up support for music therapy
For a year, Mickey Hart’s grandmother didn’t speak his name. She was in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease, an affliction that kills brain cells causing dementia, memory loss and other neurological problems.
But one day the former drummer for the Grateful Dead played for his grandmother. Her fog lifted briefly, and he became convinced of the healing power of music.
“She spoke my name for the first time in a year,” Hart recalled. “She … sort of came out of the darkness for a few minutes. That’s when I really thought there’s something to this for the aged (and) infirm.”
Hart, who went on to form the Rhythm for Life Project to help Alzheimer’s patients, was one of the key figures at the recent Music Has Power Awards in New York City. The inaugural event recognized those who have promoted music therapy.
The night’s big award went to neurologist Oliver Sacks, author of “Awakenings,” a true account of victims of a sleeping sickness who were “awoken” by the drug L-dopa. Part of patient therapy involved music and dancing.
The book was turned into a documentary in 1973, and became a 1990 feature film starring Robert De Niro.
“When the documentary of ‘Awakenings’ was made in ’73, the first thing the film director asked was, ‘Could we meet the music therapist? She seems to be the most important person around here,'” Sacks said.”(Music) is as powerful as any medicine,” Sacks said. “It has a unique way of accessing the brain and the nervous system.”One finds, in all sorts of neurological disorders, (that) music is crucial,” he said. “You have people who have Parkinson’s (disease) who can’t talk but can sing, can’t walk but can dance. People with Alzheimer’s can sometimes start to remember themselves and be themselves with familiar tunes.”A few years ago, Sacks helped launch the Institute for Music and Neurological Function at Beth Abraham Health Services in New York, with the mission to figure out “why music excites us, stimulates us, what happens in the brain.””All musicians know how uplifting the soul becomes after a musical experience. Now pure science is weighing in.” Mickey Hart, Drummer
Michael Greene, president-CEO of the National Recording Academy for Arts & Science, also serves as the national spokesman for the American Music Therapy Association. That organization, founded in 1998, seeks to raise awareness of the benefits of music therapy and promote music therapy services.
“I think everyone needs to know if there is a member of the family who is having a problem with Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s that there’s music therapists,” Greene said. “They work with them. They play music. They help them get their thought process back together, in terms of verbalization skills.”
The creation of the Institute for Music and Neurological Function as well as the American Music Therapy Association is changing the way people value music, Hart said.
“It’s looked at for its medicinal and therapeutic value,” he said. “All musicians know how uplifting the soul becomes after a musical experience. Now pure science is weighing in.”