Monday, October 13, 2008

Music and Healing for SMA

Joy, sorrow, tears, lamentation, laughter – to all these music gives voice, but in such a way that we are transported from the world of unrest to a world of peace, and see reality in a new way.
--Dr. Albert Schweitzer

Last year was the 25th anniversary season of the Longwood Symphony which we marked by bringing together multiple organizations with shared visions, and by introducing a new way of communicating our music and healing, a symposium series called Community Conversations. This year, our 26th season, focuses on music and healing for those affected by neurodegenerative disease. Midway through the year, our Community Conversation will be a symposium on the use of the arts as a means of healing.

The care of a family member with a neurodegenerative disease is complex. Beside the multiple doctor’s appointments and variety of therapies there are braces, wheelchairs, and so many other things to attend to. With children, one adds daycare, access, and education. And the list goes on.

Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy chose to use their concert on Saturday not to raise funds as much as to raise awareness. Jim Gaudreau spoke simply and caringly about the nature of the disease, how it has affected his family, and his seven-year old daughter. Many in the audience said “I learned something tonight, and was moved.”

FSMA honored Dr. Laurie Glader, a special physician whose compassion, understanding, and ability to make things happen has smoothed the road for so many parents and families.

Dr. Glader, a pediatrician in the Complex Care department of Children’s Hospital Boston accepted graciously and spoke eloquently. Dr. Glader’s father, Dr. McCarthy, here in Boston for the American Academy of Pediatrics meeting, looked on proudly.

Creativity, Caring and Community. For me, the moment that is magical at every concert is when I feel and see the orchestra transform. The words, dedication, and passion of Jim Gaudreau as a caring father and that of Dr. Glader as his physician touches the musicians on stage as well as the audience. I see it on the faces of your youngest medical students and most experienced physicians alike. It is the recognition of how our music itself is healing.

Suddenly, even beyond the power of Brahms and pure beauty of the symphony itself, the music is an extension of the work we do day to day.

Perhaps it is captured best by the last person to bid us goodnight at the end of a moving evening. She said “You played the music like it is part of life—I heard and felt all of the emotions. I really got what you were trying to say.”

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Music and the mind--a season begins

Creativity, Caring and Community

Tonight we will open our 26th concert season at NEC's Jordan Hall in a concert to benefit the Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy. This group is particularly special to me because two of the children in my pediatric practice are afflicted with the disease.

The entire season focuses on the way we use Music to Heal. This letter is my opening welcome to the audience.

Dear Friends:

Welcome to the 26th season of Longwood Symphony Orchestra. This season we focus on neurologic diseases and consider Music's role in healing.

Music has had a profound effect on all of LSO's healer-musicians. As music students, we were introduced to the magic of Music and challenged by its complex set of multi-sensory, multi-disciplinary problems. Music required the coordination of all the senses--auditory, visual, and motor--to make the notes on a page come alive. In a symphonic orchestra like the LSO, powerful and profound emotions are expressed, passion is revealed. The whole is greater than the sume of the individual parts, providing musicians and audience with emotional strength, a sense of identity, and a sense of order.

Medicine, like music, is a series of complex multi-sensory, multi-disciplinary challenges. We are inspired and touched by the science and the humanity of every patient, and work together as an ensemble in the classroom, in the laboratory, and on the wards. Medicine requires and provides the same life-sustaining inspiration, clarity, emotional strength, and sense of identity as Music.

Music is best when it is shared, performed, and given voice. Our Healing Art of Music program grew out of our passion for community and passion for music. Our music truly makes a difference and enables medical charities to touch the lives of thousands of patients and families.

I would like to thank all of you for being a part of the Longwood Symphony Orchestra family and sharing in our dual passion for, and mission of, Healing our Community through Music and Medicine. I look forward to seeing you throughout this exciting season.

Lisa M. Wong, M.D.