Author: Campbell, Bruce

Musings on the Curative Properties of Music

Ain’t nothing; quite like music.

You know this, of course. You’re re adding this because you’re involved in some way with the California Bluegrass Association, and that means you’re likely a fan of that particular genre of traditional American music. So you’re aware of the amazing things music can do for you.

From time to time, our big musical family is forced to acknowledge that certain things in our lives loom larger than music. There are significant events in our lives that sometimes bring our shared love for the music into a slightly different focus, and reminds us that our human condition - and the community that we enjoy together – may demand that we address the more urgent matters in our hierarchy of needs.

But then, often, music ends up being a contributing factor in how we rally to deal with life’s adversities. My buddy Cliff’s recent column on how a painful illness curtailed his enjoyment of the Father’s Day Festival is a good example. You’d be hard pressed to find a guy who squeezes more fun out of a bluegrass festival than Cliff. You can find him in a jam nearly every minute, holding court with his avuncular manner and massive arsenal of songs.

So, for a malady to chase Cliff out of Grass Valley, you know it’s serious. So, aside from a course of anitbiotics, and rest, what do you suppose Cliff’s road to recovery consists of? You got it – playing some music. Given the outpouring of concern, love and prayers from his CBA family, plus playing music, I like Cliff’s chances for a full recovery.

I have personally witnessed the miraculous healing power of music. I have played a good number of convalescent and nursing homes over the years, and many times I have seen folks who seemed very broken down perk up and come to life when they hear music they like. Eyes that were cloudy with infirmity, age and pain brighten up and flash with renewed vigor as they hear a tune that brings back fond memories from years past. Even more remarkable, I have seen people who seemed to have connection to the “real world” come to sentience from hearing music.

Please don’t get me wrong – I’m not talking about people throwing down their crutches and dancing a jig. The realities are more subtle, but no less amazing.

When you’re not feeling well, life can get real drab in a hurry. Whether you have a reasonable expectation for recovery, or facing a less certain future, you need to find ways to reconnect with the things in life that give you joy, and music is such a simple way to get there. Yeah, playing music is the best – having the music flow from your brain, through your fingers to your ears is terrific therapy. But if the brain and fingers won’t cooperate, then just tickling that tympanic membrane with tantalizing tunes will do wonders. Get well, Cliff!

Posted:  7/21/2010

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