Music is Medicine: Using Art Therapy to Repair Pathways in the Brain

Photo: Courtesy of The Colburn School.

Photo: Courtesy of The Colburn School.

Christine Blue was not expected to survive. After a car accident left the Cleveland area clarinetist in a coma, her doctors weren’t sure she’d even wake up, much less return to her new job as an elementary school band director. Finishing the graduate program in which she was enrolled at Case Western Reserve University seemed like an unattainable goal, and returning to her instrument seemed out of the question.

When Robert McAllister heard about the accident, he presented a resolute dissenting opinion. “Your doctors are wrong,” he told Blue. “You’ll return to work. You’ll play again.”

McAllister joined Blue’s physical therapy team, which included Board Certified Music Therapists at Cleveland’s Music Settlement School, which he ran at the time, and, working on a hunch, started by “retracing the steps,” as he put it, of clarinet performance. Over 28 grueling weeks, McAllister and Blue worked to painstakingly build up her memory of playing the clarinet, note by note, scale by scale. Full story.

Charlie Jensen (KCET) / September 2, 2016

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