Day 108: Music is medicine

Continuing on with my 365 Days of Ted challenge is a post about the Ted talk/performance ‘Music is medicine, music is sanity’ by Robert Gupta a violinist with the LA philharmonic.

Robert shares a story about LA columnist Steve Lopez and an important moment in his life when in the streets of downtown LA he was drawn to the sounds of beautiful music. The source of the beautiful music was a two string violin being played by Nathaniel, a homeless man.

This meeting of strangers was the basis of the Hollywood movie The Soloist, a story about a former Juilliard student who dropped out after two years due to schizophrenia. Nathaniel chose not to treat the condition as treatment had previously included shock treatment and handcuffs – the psychological scars a permanent condition that haunts him.

Robert met Nathaniel through Steve and began offering Nathaniel violin lessons. He recalls Nathaniel being in a state of paranoia, thinking that the demons were out to get him and that people were trying to poison him in his sleep.  In his state, Robert decided against to go into the music terminology and the theory part of the lesson as he didn’t want to create a bad relationship for Nathaniel between the violin and himself so he just started to play.

Robert recalls the profound affect that the music has on Nathaniel. It was as if a chemical reaction was taking place, as if Nathaniel had just taken some sedating drugs as he started to play along with Robert, playing by ear. “Music brought him back into the folds of friends”

Why this matters

Music and art is something so pure and intentional in a way that it can transform whats going on inside of us into something tangible. The next time you are feeling bottled up or just need to figure something out, turn to art and music – it can be one of the most therapeutic things you will ever experience.

Vanessa Rose