My Purpose

My Purpose

The purpose of this blog is to help people understand that music can be more then just entertainment, and what those things are. I want be able to help people with this blog. I don't know everything about music, I am still studying it, however, I will share what I have found. I hope you will be enlighted and edified by what I have to share. I worry that some people might turn a deaf ear to my blog if they read something on this blog that they don't agree with. I respect your beliefs. I don't agree with everything I read either. But I know you can find something that can help and interest you, if you just keep reading.

"Quotes Worth Mentioning"


When asked where his inspiration came from, Johannes Brahms said, "I immediately feel vibrations that thrills my whole being. These are the Spirit illuminating the soul power within, and in this exalted state, I see clearly what is obscure in my ordinary moods: Then I feel capable of drawing inspiration from above, as Beethoven ... Straighway the ideas flow in upon me, directly from God, and not only do I see distinct themes in my mind's eye but they are clothed in the right forms, harmonies, and orchestration. Measure by measure, the finished product is revealed to me when I am in those rare, inspired moods." "The powers from which all truly great composers like Mozart, Schubert, Bach and Beethoven drew their inspiration is the same power that enabled Jesus to work his miracles. It is the same power that created our earth and the whole universe"
("Talks with Great Composers", Arthur M. Abell)

"Give me power over he who shapes the music of a nation, and I care not for who shapes it laws"
Napolian Bonaparte

“Intellectual enlightenment consists of instruction in the arts, numbers, history, speech, and government. Music consummates a man’s life, giving his rituals meaning. Music has a trensforming effect on its listeners, and should be the first principle of government.” -The Teachings of Confucius.

I quote some remarks between,Gene R. Cook, and Mik Jagger made a few years ago:
Cook: "I have the opportunity to be with a lot of young people. Many say your music does not affect them adversely in any way. Others say it effects them in a very bad way. What is your opinion? What is your impact?”
Jagger "Our music is calculated to drive the kids to sex. It's not my fault what they do. It's up to them. I'm just making a lot of money.”
Cook: He was in Mexico making a profane and pornographic music video because the cost is 1/3 there. In addition it is easier to produce such videos there at the moment. He explained that though such videos with explicit sexual behavior is illegal on US national television, it soon will be, and they want to have the videos ready. Now not only audio pornography can be portrayed, but they can view it as well. He was making more money this way."
Jagger:“It doesn't matter what you do in life, there are no rules. There is no god. You can take whatever you want. It doesn't matter."

"To encourage literature and the arts is the duty which every good citizen owns to his country."
George Washington

"Music has the power of producing a certain effect on the moral character of the soul, and if it has the power to do this, it is clear that the young must be directed to music and must be educated in it."

(more qoutes to come)

PLEASE NOTE: It would greatly benefit the reader to follow blog postings from the first post to the most recent. Using the Blog Archive in the left column of the page to jump to the oldest posts. For now I will see if I can find a way to display the posting in chronilogical order, first post to the latest post.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Harmony Project

I came across the Harmony Project while watching the TV series, "Turning Point" on BYU TV.   It is a very fabulous thing that is going on.  It is a music program that is, well I will let you read ir for yourself.  Go to and read about it there.  Below is some research that I have gotten off of that website.  There are more stories and research about music programs helping children in many ways like the Harmony Project does, through out the rest of my blog.  Also check out the video link in the left column of my blog "The Creativity Factor"  
Harmony Project programs are research-based. I developed Harmony
1. A robust body of literature shows the following. Tiny kids
want to learn everything, and they want to learn it now!
academic motivation (natural curiosity) of 3rd graders tends to be stably
and predictably high. For every year a child remains in school, however,
intrinsic academic motivation plummets. Ie., kids show up interested and
seeking mastery experiences, and the things we do with kids in schools
tends to extinguish their curiosity and desire to learn. (See 2, below, for
the exception.)
Harter, S. (1981). A new self-report scale of instrinsic versus extrinsic
orientation in the classroom: motivational and informational components.
Developmental Psychology, Vol 17(3), 300-312.
Lepper, M.R., Corpus, J.H., Iyengar, S.S. (2005). Intrinsic and extrinsic
motivational orientations in the classroom: Age differences and academic
correlates. Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol 97(2), 184-196.
Makri-Botsari, E. (1999). Academic instrinsic motivation: Developmental
differences and relations to perceived scholastic competence, locus of
control and achievement. Evaluation and Research in Education, Vol 13(3),
2. Shirley Brice Heath, a linguistic anthropologist at Stanford
(now at Brown), wanted to learn what kids, ages 8 - 18, do in
their discretionary non-school hours.
conducted a 10-year qualitative research study, embedding ethnographers
in 124 different after-school programs throughout the country. She
transcribed some two million words of recorded conversation. All the
students involved in after school programs had benefited relative to peers
who had not engaged in after school programs. But, relative to students
who had participated in sports programs or community service programs
(like scouting, religious clubs, 4H, etc.), arts-engaged kids sounded like
they came from a different universe. Heath determined that, hands down,
arts-based programs produced the most powerful and enduring pro-social
impact on young people. The effect was particularly striking for
disadvantaged students, who tended to self-select into arts-based programs
at greater rates than did their more advantaged peers.
Heath's study demonstrates that arts-engaged students tend to remain
curious, engaged, and interested in the process of their own learning and
development -- a striking "exception" to the downward motivation trend
described in #1, above.
To answer the question, she
Imaginative Actuality: Learning in the Arts during the Nonschool
Hours Shirley Brice Heath with Adelma Roach, page 19 The article on page 1 of the compendium is also of note. It describes an analysis of data from the National Educational Longitudinal Survey done by James Catterall and colleagues. Music-engaged high school students performed significantly better in math and language. Students with high levels of music engagement scored even higher. The effect persisted for disadvantaged students.
Involvement in the Arts and Human Development: General Involvement and Intensive Involvement in Music and Theater Arts James S. Catterall, Richard Chapleau and John Iwanaga, page 1
3. The RAND Corporation followed up on Heath's work to
essentially answer the following question. "Do all arts programs
produce powerful and enduring pro-social benefits, or are there
specific factors within high-performing arts programs that
account for the powerful pro-social benefit observed?"
RAND's landmark "Arts and Prosocial Impact" studies answered the
question. Quality instruction was necessary, but insufficient to produce the
prosocial benefits observed. There were, indeed, a handful of specific
factors besides quality instruction that were common to the highestperforming arts-based youth programs.
RAND, Arts & Prosocial Impact:
4. The question remains: How are quality arts programs
(containing the elements identified by the RAND study) able to
impact students' social and emotional well-being and improve
academic motivation?
University of Rochester researchers Richard M. Ryan and Edward L. Deci.
Their "Self Determination Theory" posits three essential psychological
needs: the need for autonomy, for competence, and for relatedness. Using
an experimental design, Ryan and Deci showed that boosting students’
autonomy, competence, and relatedness resulted in statistically significant
increases in students' intrinsic motivation.
Quality arts education programs (that include the elements identified in
the RAND study) improve students' competence, autonomy, and
relatedness with laser-like precision. A student learns to play an
instrument herself (autonomy). Over time she develops the ability to play
it better, and to play increasingly difficult pieces (competence). And she
performs these pieces before family and peers -- either on her own or as
part of an ensemble (relatedness).
Reference: Ryan, R.M., Deci, E.L. (2000). Self-determination theory and
the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being.
American Psychologist, Vol 55, 68-78.
Self Determination Theory:
The answer can be found in the work of;
5. How Music Learning Shapes Students’ Brains
Dr. Nina Kraus, Director of the Auditory Neuroscience Lab at
Northwestern University has studied how music learning shapes the brain and the abilities of music students for two decades. She has found that, over time, music learning shapes the development of the brain and nervous system in a way that improves students’ language learning and acquisition and also improves a student’s ability to listen in a noisy environment and hear the important messages, despite the accompanying noise. The following link contains short videos that provide the opportunity to listen to Dr. Kraus describe her research.
6. Grades, Behavior and Mood
In our most recent impact evaluation survey, a high proportion of students' parents indicated that - since joining the Harmony Project - their child has shown improvement in his/her Grades (82%), Behavior (82%), Mood (80%), and Health (70%). These responses were recently validated in a research study conducted by Michael Uy, a UC Berkeley graduate who was awarded the Judith Lee Stronach Baccalaureate Prize to spend a year comparing The Harmony Project with Venezuela's world-renowned El Sistema youth orchestra program (i.e., the program that produced Gustavo Dudamel, incoming Los Angeles Philharmonic Music Director). The study
– based on in-depth interviews with students and parents of both
programs – found that 90% of Harmony Project students showed
improved focus and discipline, 73% improved academic achievement, 71%
improved family communication, 44% improved self-esteem.
7. Preventing School Drop-Out; High School Graduation;
College Attendance
Below is a link to a recent study conducted by the University of California
Santa Barbara which reports drop-out rates for cities throughout
California. Drop-out rates for Los Angeles were reported to be 50% for the
entire city. Drop-out rates for low-income communities can be as high as
70%, or even higher. Harmony Project operates programs in four of LA’s
12 high crime “gang reduction zones”. Our students come from lowincome
homes (family income below 200% of the federal poverty level), yet
they all remain enrolled in school.
In 2010, 100% of Harmony Project’s high school graduates went on to
college. Each was the first in the family to attend college.
8. 21st Century Learning skills:
Harmony Project participation supports the following 21st Century
Learning Skills:
Core Subjects: English, Reading / Language Arts, Arts
21st Century Context: Global Awareness
Harmony Project students discover the world and other cultures through
the music they learn. They also participate in classes with students from
diverse cultures and backgrounds.
Learning & Thinking Skills Critical thinking & problem-solving
skills Communication skills Creativity & Innovation skills Collaboration
skills Contextual learning skills
The process of learning to play a musical instrument takes place over
multiple years, and develops student discipline, persistence, strategic
thinking, creativity and accountability. Ensemble participation develops
the ability to collaborate well with others.
Life Skills Leadership Ethics Accountability
Harmony Project students develop leadership skills as Teaching Assistants
and Peer Mentors within the program. They develop a personal ethical
framework and moral values through service-learning opportunities within
the program. And they learn accountability by participating in ensembles
and youth orchestras where the quality of the performance depends upon
each member learning and performing their part well.
21st Century Learning Skills (
40 developmental assets from Search Institute
Focus group interviews of Harmony Project students and parents show
that Harmony Project participation develops 30 or more of the 40
developmental assets identified by the Search Institute. This reflects a
level of social support associated with personal resilience and a significant
reduction in students’ problem alcohol use, violence and school problems

There is this and more information at Check it out!

Harmony Project – Research Basis Summary Prepared by
Margaret Martin, MPH, DrPH Harmony Project Founder

Project as a youth development and mentoring program targeting students with the greatest needs and the fewest resources. Utilizing a public health perspective, we focused on the after school environment, when children are at greatest risk of accident, injury, assault, abuse, criminal activity, and substance use. I didn't know about Dr. Abreu or El Sistema at the time I founded Harmony Project, but I began this work for essentially the same reasons, and we continue to learn as much as possible from the work being done in Venezuela and elsewhere. The following is a narrative describing
key pieces of research upon which Harmony Project programs are based.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Micheal Ballam Videos

Don't forget about Dr. Ballam's Videos I have in the left column on the page. Good stuff!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

More Info

Here is a link to more info Michael Ballam has. Some of the info can also be found in this blog, but there is some info that isn't in this blog too.

Testimonial of Music Helping in the Learning Process.

I know a person who is attending college.  I gave her some music to listen to while she studies and does her homework.  I gave her some music from J.S. Bach and Mozart.  About a week later she came up to me and thanked me for the music.  She said that she could focus a lot better, she was more orginized, she remembered alot more, and got a lot more done then she would have if she didn't listen to the music while she worked and studied.  It helps me when I study, give it a try, it works!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Update on my progress

Like I have promised, I will update you on my progress of my listing to classical music again.  Well I am doing much better.  I can think and functions more and more clearly.  So that is all I have to say for this post, however, I am learing some new things that I am still studying and looking at and hope to have some new data to be able to post on my blog.  This data that I am working on is very interesting, I personlly am estactic about my new findings! I hope to post soon. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Please Share Your Thoughts

I haven't writen posts for a while before today.  I hope that those people that read my blog will leave  comments about musical experiances or questions they have so others may be benefited by there stories and questions, If you have questions I will try to answer them, and if I can't answer them, then I will find where the answer can be found.  If you have any information that you would like to share, feel free to comment on post or write to me the more people that share beneficial information the more people that can be helped.  If you send me something by email i will need your permision to post it on my blog, or parts of the info you share with me.  So if you have some info that you feel comfortable to share, I and possibly other would much appreciate it.  You can leave yourself anonymous if you would like. 

Music In My Life

I recently havn't had much of an oppertunity to listen to classical and barouqe music, which I usually listen to for hours every day.  One of the reasons I listen to classical music for hours a day is because I have some problems that baqrouqe and classical music help me with greatly.  There were times when I couldn't keep a train of thought and barly remember things that were just said to me because of certain conditions that I have.  I would have to just lye down and do nothing because thats about all I could do, durring that time Bach's music seemed to be the most help and after a little bit, I could function more normally.  But all those problems just about went away when I started to listen to that music for hours a day.  Now that I haven't listened to that music for a couple of weeks now, I noticed a major change, I am almost back to where I was before that musicbecame such a large part of my life.  However, I am listening to music again.  I will update this blog on my progress.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Music, Colors and Emotions

Here is a letter that I have been sending to researchers that I thought might be a good read for my blog.  They are my thoughts, they are not Scientific Laws or anything (so far).  Just thoughts I have
(*'s are some things I left out)

Hello, how are you?  ******************************************************************************
********************I have a thought that might help in the field of music therapy.  Here it is, I will try to keep it short.  I learned that chemicals in the brain cause emotions.  But it is more then that.  I also learned that the chemicals have electromagnetic frequencies, and different frequencies produce different emotions.  I am not sure how it works, but that is in a nutshell, for that anyways.  Now by some kind of vibratory effect, different colors produce different emotions.  There is also color therapy, which has been around since ancient times and also a type of therapy still used today.  I believe very strongly that there is a great connection between color and sound (music) effecting our emotions.   So with that much in mind, this is what I did.  I went to Handel's Water Music Suite No.  Let me tell you why I did that before I go on. 
Handel wrote that music for a very specific purpose.  King George III or II, the King of England at the time when Handel was alive, was having a very hard time.  He practically was ruling the world at the time and felt his responsibility very keenly.  He was stress, couldn’t remember things, kept making mistakes and was troubled in his sleep.  He was reading a book that his nephew James was translating, (King James Bible) He was reading in the book of Samuel I think is was and read about King Saul.  Saul was ruling a very large kingdom too, and was having much of the same problems King George was experiencing.  Saul tried every thing, even sorcery, but to no avail.  Then one of his "cabinet” said that there was a young boy who had the ability to calm people and help them feel better by playing his harp.  So Saul sent for this boy (later king David) and David played the harp and it helped Saul.  After reading this George ask if there was a “Hebrew harp healer" around.  Handel met with George and George ask him if he could do the same, and Handel said yes, and then the Water Music Suite came to be.  Now, knowing that Handel's Water Music was written to help with relaxation, calmness, concentration, memory and whatever else the king needed, I thought "now the most important and most played notes (most of the time) are the tonic and the dominate in the key. 
Let me analyze, 
Handel’s Water Music
Suite No. 1 in F Major HWV 348
The frequency of F natural (the tonic) equals the frequency of the color violet (in a different octave).  According to my data, violet is associated with inspiration and creativity.  Benefits may be, calm nerves and reduced excitement.
Suite No. 2 in D Major HWV 349
The frequency of D and green/aqua are the same.  Green is associated with peace, renewal, hope, balance, harmony, self-control, growth and life.  Benefits may be stress reduction, rest, calmness, sense of balance and harmony, normalcy, and relaxation.
Suite No. 3 HWV 350
G major – Red.  Associated with courage, strength, vitality, vigor, ambition, alertness, pioneering spirit, willpower and aggressiveness.  Benefits may be, overcome negative thoughts, a sense of power, self-confidence, settledness, and a feeling of security and safety.

The correlation between the purpose of the water music and the relative colors to the tonic note of the suites are the same.  However music has more impact or “power” then just a single note.  Music has melody, harmony, and rhythm.  I think there needs to be some exploration in music as far as, the melody, the rhythm and harmony to find out just how it effect emotions so powerfully with my theory.  I strongly believe that knowing more about what I have suggested in this letter can greatly help in the music therapy and maybe bring us to new horizons of discovery.  I also strongly believe that with a deeper and better and fuller understanding of how music affects people, composers can also be brought into the music therapy sphere. 
Thank you for your time,
P.S.  If you have questions please reply.  I am not to good with words, so I hope that the message I wanted you to receive is what the letter states.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Need Help

I am not getting much feed back from my readers, I would like to know what you think of my blog.  I am having a lot of views but very very little feed back.  I think one reason why might be some people may not know how to leave a comment.  At the bottom of each post there is a comment link where you can leave a brief message of what you thought about the post or experiances that you have had with music or you can ask a question.  There is also a reaction segment at the bottom as well.  All you have to do it click on a button weither you liked, disliked, or were indifferent to the post you've read.  I also have a my email you can contact me.  It is a link you can click on, however, it takes you a window that I my self do not know how to contact people through that outlook window that pops up.  So what you might try is copy the address down, then go into your email and send me an email from there.  So please take some time and let me know what you what you think.
Thank You 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Animals and Classical Music

I would like to share some experiances that I have had with animals and Classical Music.  I wanted to see what kind of response I would get out of animals when I played music to them.  Classical (barouqe, classical, romantic) era music was the only music that made the animals have any response and some hymns too.  I didn't play a variaty of music, but the music I could.  When other music was played besides the above, there seems to be no response or a definite one at least.  But when  Beethoven, J.S. Bach, Brahms, Mozart, Handel, or Hymns, the animals just layed down and poked thier ears up as though to listen to the music activly.  Someone I know had a sheep that just arrived to it's new home one day at this persons house.  The sheep was distressed and bleating very much and was pacing it's stall anxiously.  I suggested to them to play some classical music for it and see what happens.  When the music was played the sheep did not make another noise and layed down and seemed calm.  It would walk around abit, but mostly lay.  I witnessed it first hand, it was remarkable.  If you are wondering, the music played for the sheep what Handel's Water Music Suites.  Handel wrote that music for the King of England to help him calm down and to think and to remember better when he was feeling his resposibility of his possition very keenly of being the king.  I have a couple of older post that talk about Handel's Water Music titled,  "Handel and Healing", and "Words and Water Music" if you would like to learn more.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bach and Black Birds

One day I was in my bedroom, which has a large tree just out side my window, I notice a group of black birds in the tree and on the ground.  I have lived around black birds all my life and have noticed that they bicker and squall with each other more then any other birds I have seen  they might of been starlings, the two look much alike.  Which ever they were they were, as usual, bickering with each other and picking at the ground and what ever else it is that birds do.  I then had a thought about the story with the whales Dr. Ballam talks about.  Let me quote "In 1968 a group of Beluga Whales were trapped of the shore of the Bering Strait under a blanket of ice. The winter had been more severe than usual, and the ice had formed quickly to entrap these remarkable endangered creatures of the deep under an icy barrier. Being mammals, they needed to surface regularly to breath, and in doing so found themselves trapped under a solid wall with no ability to get oxygen. The whales faced the potential for annihilation. Scientists and wildlife conservationists from the Soviet Union and Great Britain sent mighty ice breaking machines to open the way for the whales to get oxygen. They were successful in their mission to break the ice, but in doing so the whales had become frightened and submerged to the bottom of the sea to get away from the horrible sound of the ice crusher. They stayed on the bottom until some began to die. The scientists and conservationists thought of a way to bring them to the surface. They concurred that whales sing to each other through miles of open sea. In fact water is a better conductor of sound waves than air. Whales can communicate by song for upwards of 200 miles. They determined to “pipe” sound into the water in the hopes that the whales would find it interesting and follow it. They began by playing gentle lute music which had little or no effect on the whales. They tried American Jazz thinking the more sophisticated rhythms might stimulate their interest. It had no effect. In desperation they determined to blast heavy metal rock music into the depths of the deep. In doing so, the whales submerged deeper into the icy abyss. Someone had the ingenuity to try some Beethoven. For some reason the whales came forth following the music to survival."  So I wanted to play some music for the birds to see what response I would get out of them.  I played a Brandenburg Concerto, I believe it was #5.  Something very extraordinary happened.  In a few seconds it caught there attention and they started to just stand there and look around.  After a moment or two they went back to what they were doing.  It was very interesting to see them not fighting anymore when one would accidentally bump into the other or get to close to another one eating something.  They seems to just get along.  A feeling of peace came over me and the birds.  I can't describe it but I felt just a wonderful presence of peace that came about me.  Occasionally when a black bird or starling came from somewhere else and landed in the little flock it would squabble with a few then realize the music was playing and then looked around for it and then went about its business in a peaceful manner as the birds that were already there. It was the oddest thing I have ever seen in a group of that type of birds that I am so use to seeing bickering with each other.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

New Info Michael Ballam is Sharing

I came across some info on that Michael Ballam compiled.  They are people's testimonials, including school teachers, about what they have experiance with playing classical music in there homes and classrooms.  here is a direct link to them
I also found some other info about music, much like what I have already shared in my blog.  the link to that is,  hope you learn something new!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Music's Effect on Water

Here something that stuck me profoundly.  A Japanese scientist Dr, Emoto took pictures of water molecules while different music was being played.  Here some examples of when classical music was played

<----Beethoven's Pastorale

 Bach's " Air for the G string " ---->

Now here is what happened when heavy metal music was played,
knowing that, now think about it when I tell you that about 72% of your body is made up of water.  I think it tells us a lot about how music effects peoples minds and bodies.  Not only this, but the countless scientific studies on how music effects us.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Thank you Readers

Hello to readers, I am still learning how to work a blog and as I was looking around today,  I found that I could learn how many people have been viewing my blog.  I am so pleased that people are viewing this blog.  I hope I am helping people with it.  That is my whole purpose for this blog.  Please leave comments if you have any you wish to share, or any advice to help me to learn more about my blog, especially how to share it more.  I would also like to see what my readers think about my blog.  There is one thing that concerns me. I share info about how music is used for a variaty of things.  I know some people that would turn a deaf ear to my blog when they see that I have shared info about things they don't agree with and that is okay if they do not agree.  I respect your beliefs.  I don't agree with every thing I read either.  But please do not quit reading, I am certian that you will find something that can help or interest you.  I have over a hundred pages of info so far given to me by Michael Ballam PhD popsted on my blog.  If you find something that you like on my blog, Please fell free to share with others so they can learn about these things too.  I don't like asking favours much, but please tell others about my blog.  On facebook, twitter or however.  I know that people can be benefited by what I have to share.  Thank you again for view my blog.  I don't feel that I am not reaching people anymore. 
If you have read from the oldest posts and noticed that the first few post that are data that I recieved from Dr. Ballam(as indicated at the top of the posts) All posts from those to the post right before this one are also his info that he gave me.  unless otherwise indicated. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011


(this is some information that I received from Dr. Michael Ballam, this information is unedited notes of Dr. Ballam, hence there are the spelling error and typos. It is my intent to not edit them for the purpuse of not risking to change the meaning of the text. It is my desire to inform you of these errors so as to not take away any credibiliy from Dr. Ballam because of possible impressions that these mistakes may have on people to lower his credibility.)
We could distill the report above to be the three C’s 1. Community - the ability to work with others. 2. Creativity - the ability to make something from nothing, and 3. Communication - the ability to convey meaning Where in today’s expanding curriculum are we making room for these abilities to be nurtured and developed? Do we learn community and creativity in the math class? Do we learn how to communicate in the science class? No we do not. That is not the objective of those courses. They hold a different purpose. The U.S. Department of Labor goes on in their report to characterize math and science and the basic “R’s” of reading, writing and arithmetic as tools or means not as ends unto themselves. They warn th


Servant and Master am I; Servant of those dead and Master of those living. Through me, spirits of immortals speak the message that makes the world weep and laugh, and wonder and worship. I tell the story of love, the story of hate, the story that saves, and the story that damns. I am the incense upon which prayers float to Heaven. I am the smoke which palls over the field of battle where men are dying with me on their lips. I am close to the marriage altar, and when the graves open, I stand nearby. I call the wanderer home, I rescue the soul from the depths, I open the lips of the lovers, and through the dead, whisper to the living. One I serve as I serve all, and the king I make my slave as easily as I subject his slave I speak through the birds of the air, the insects of the fields, the crash of water on rock-ribbed shores I am even heard by the soul that knows me in the clatter of wheels on city streets. I know no brother, yet all men are my brothers: I am the father of the best that is in them, and they are the father of the best that is in me. I am the instrument of God. I AM MUSIC.


Since 1998, the Utah Festival Opera has presented a festival of these original operas by children in a beautifully restored theatre in Logan, Utah each spring. Most recently the opera company completed and presented 44 original operas by children from the ages of kindergarten to middle school. The results have been astonishing on so many levels. Not only has it caused the children to want to attend school more regularly as a result of creating their own works, but their interest and proficiency in other academic areas have been enhanced. Teachers have remarked about the core curriculum being easier to present and better retained when the children are involved in creative activity. The atmosphere in the class room has improved, discipline problems have lessened and participation in all areas of school have been enhanced. Some truly remarkable things have occurred from autistic children, who for the first time have participated and communicated as well, to children in middle grades having no reading skills all of a sudden finding the means to catch up with their classmates in reading. We have seen self esteem grow causing painfully shy children to open up and communicate with their peers and teachers. Some children have broken through learning plateaus and subject phobias to find success and joy in learning. I’m not sure I can articulate all of the reasons such wonderful ansillary things have occured through this work, but surely some of the reasons are enhanced self esteem (confidence), the strength and understanding that comes from working and sharing together, the cognitive enhancement of using both hemispheres of the brain, the non-judgemental environment of the arts, the creative opportunities to communicate beyond verbal expression. What ever the reasons, the results are clear.


Believing the theses above to be true, the Utah Festival Opera in Logan, Utah launched a bold new program in 1996 to empower teachers to assist their students in developing their creative abilities and magnify their capacities in the areas of working in a community, communication skills and creativity. The opera company’s educational personnel work with elementary classrooms and teachers in several school districts to assist children in the creation of their own original operas. The children write their own libretto, compose their own music, and in most cases, create and build their own sets and costumes. Each class then has the opportunity to participate in the “Children’s Opera Festival” where each children’s opera is fully staged with assitance from a professional technical crew which provides lighting and sound support Teachers are guided through every step of the creative process. Interested teachers are given step-by-step instruction in the process of helping children to create opera in a workshop conducted by the opera company each year. Teachers are provided with a manual detailing the process of writing the story and the music, building sets, props, and costumes. In this forum, teachers also learn how to work as teams and how to incorporate the program into cross-curricular studies. They also learn how to step back and allow the children to be the creators and to take ownership of their own work. The Utah Festival Opera provides free professional artistic assistance to the teachers in their classrooms. Music and drama specialists, as well as piano accompanists, visit classrooms and assist teacher and students in the creative process. Costumes, instruments and art supplies are also made available. When we first developed this program, I volunteered to be one of the first mentors to go out into the schools. My first visit was to a combined 2nd grade classroom that contained over 75 students. The three teachers left me alone with the children for nearly two hours. Such a fate would be dreaded by most anyone fearing that the discipline challenges would be beyond control. In this case they were not, because it became immediately apparent that this project belonged to the children. I was simply there to facilitate their creative process, not to direct it. The story would be theirs, the words their own. As long as they were in control of their destiny with the project there was no need to impose discipline from me. They did it among themselves. Once they took ownership of the project, they also took ownership of the process, which included keeping order and discipline. We determined by majority vote, which they determined to be 38 votes (a math concept beyond their years), that the story should be about dinosaurs. I asked if they knew enough about the subject to present it in a musical drama. They soon showed me that they understood a great deal about the subject. We proceeded to set the stage. How do we inform the audience that our opera is about dinosaurs from an age past? One child proposed that a narrator come forward and tell the audience what we were about to portray. I noted that such a technique was a good one and proposed that perhaps there was a way of telling the story without words. There was a moment of silence as the children determined how they could communicate their story without the use of language. Soon a child said “we will create a Mesozoic forest!” I asked how they would do that. Wonderful, extravagant ideas flooded forward about trees, mountains, etc.. I explained that Art was a means of telling a story in as much economy as possible. The less said the better. How could we tell the audience that they were in a Mesozoic forest without actually creating one? One child proposed that we paint a few Mesozoic trees on a back-drop. The class determined that this was a good idea. Now to the process: on what material do we paint this forest. “On plywood!” came one response. We determined to budget that possibility. I explained that every material that we used would require that we “earn” the money to purchase it. Part of our creative idea is to help young children understand that “things” have value. I fear that we have taught an unrealistic if not untrue principle that “things” come from nowhere. On the first day of school texts, paper, pencils, rulers, markers all appear on their desks from nowhere. When they are destroyed, used or lost they magically reappear from nowhere. The opera company wishes to help children understand that this is not a realistic paradigm under which to operate. Everything has a value. “Does anyone know what a piece of plywood costs?” I asked. No one had any idea, neither had they ever thought about the fact that plywood had a cost. We “guesstimated” that they were valued at about $20.00 each and that we would need 10 to cover the back of our “stage”. I asked how much money we would then need to raise. In a matter of seconds the correct response of $200 came forth from the group. Our project was now taking on multiplication principles beyond their years. “Fine,” I said, “How will we earn the money. “We’ll bake cookies” was one response. “We’ll wash cars” was another. We voted and the washing of cars won out. I asked what we would charge for the service, and the response came back “one dollar per car!” We then determined how many cars would need to be washed to equal our need. With fallen voices and countenances they determined that 200 cars were too many to wash. Within a moment another idea was proposed. “My uncle has an appliance store and he has lots of big boxes. We can cut them up and make a backdrop from them.” We determined that this was a great idea. How would we stand the cardboard up. Interesting engineering ideas were postulated, but before we could decide on the best proposal, another idea come forth. Why don’t we keep the boxes intact and paint the scenery on one of the sides towards the audience. That brought forth another idea that we could turn the boxes and have the potential of four different scenes painted on the boxes. Now that is creative thought, community work and communication at it’s apex. I defy any science or math teacher to come up with better problem solving skills and more creative solutions. All of this took place within the first 20 minutes of our process. Why such high level creative thinking, because the children were all united in the creative process of the Arts. There is nothing passive about this process. This is not about watching a play or visiting a museum or listening to a concert. This is doing, not watching. We assigned a group of students to investigate the box solution to our scenery need. Within moments another idea came forth. “What about painting the scene on sheets?” “We could hang them on a wire and move them across to change the scene” came another response. We agreed that sheets were also a good idea. I asked if anyone knew the value of sheets. No one had any idea sheets cost money. Again we had led them to believe they appeared from no where. We determined a committee to take an after school visit to one of our local department stores and survey the costs and report back to the class. Another student said “what about the D.I.?” one of our local second hand stores equivalent to a Salvation Army thrift store. It was determined to be a great alternative plan. Another investigatory committee was established. Another child said, “we don’t need to buy sheets, my mother has a whole closet full of them she’d never miss!” I explained that theft was not part of our plan, but his comment prompted a little girl who had not made any comment throughout the morning to come forth with one of the best ideas of the day. She timidly said. “We send out a newsletter every week and we never know what to say in it. How about saying...We need your old sheets for our opera, please save them and donate them to us!” Now there is conservation, economy, community participation and creativity rolled up into one press release! Had we not done anything more that day it would have been sufficient! But there was more. Now that we felt we had materials upon which to paint our scene we had to determine where to get the paint. How many colors do we need? At first a multitude of colors came forward, then one of the children reminded them that with three colors, (red, yellow and blue) a rainbow of colors could be mixed. We determined that a quart of each of these colors could complete our project. How much would that cost? We determined that a local paint store might be willing to donate the paint. I asked what we could offer to the owner of the store that might cause him to want to help us out. I explained the principle of quid pro quo (???) which they understood immediately. One child suggested that we offer tickets to our opera in exchange for the paint. Another child suggested that we print a program and put an “ad” from the paint store in it. All this from 2nd graders! I don’t worry about the future of creative community work provided children have a regular creative opportunities of this nature. My next stop was at another school in our county where an anxious teacher awaited my arrival. Our standard formula is to have three acts or scenes. Act one is an introduction of the characters, act two is the conflict that develops from the traits of the characters and act three is a resolution of the conflict. We identify the characters by adjectives, which children of pre-school age can understand. We use five adjectives for each character. We have learned from experience that at least 3 of the 5 need to be positive adjectives. Children are more prone to find negative adjectives and need to be guided to balancing it with positive adjectives. Children learn that certain character types can create conflicts with other types, but that there is also means by which those conflicts can be resolved in a mutually beneficial fashion. We can a great deal about a character by the way they communicate. As we began to introduce one of our characters by allowing the students to submit dialogue out loud one of the students shot forth very “creative” language. All of the words consisted of four letters and many of them were compound words. His language was “blue” enough to make a sailor blush, and the teacher buried her shaking head into her hands. Much to her shock and that of the class, I wrote his words on the board. There was an audible gasp! I acknowledged that these were real words that some people use. I asked the young man who he wanted to come to our opera. He said “grandma.” He admitted that he loved his grandmother and wanted her to be there when the opera was performed. I asked him if he thought his mother knew what these words meant. He acknowledged that he believed she did. I asked if she used the words herself. He reluctantly said no. I asked if it might be possible that she might be offended by the words. He supposed that she might. I pressed him to see if she might leave our production. He acquiesced that it was a possibility. I asked him how he would feel if she left our production. He said that he would feel badly if she left. I explained that there are some strong words which can alienate or offend people and cause them not to hear our message. I asked him if words like that really have strength if our message is not received. He said no. I asked him if he could think of words which have the same amount of power but might not offend. He replaced each of his words with appropriate ones. When we took our break the teacher confessed to me that she had tried all year long to impress upon him that his language was not getting the response he really wanted, but to no avail. The more she objected to his language the more he used offensive words. In a matter of minutes we did more through the opera project than she had been able to do all year. The reason was two fold: the arts should create a “safe” environment for expression. We were examining character “A”’s language, not this young man. We were able to analyze the use of language without “attacking” the young man or causing him to “stonewall” his position. Secondly, from a position of detachment, he was able to hear, perhaps for the first time, that his colleagues in the class were not impressed by the language. Their reactions of shock were a result of repulsion not impression. One overriding rule in our program is that “no one gets hurt” in our operas. This means both physically and emotionally. We openly discuss the power of language to injure and offend. It helps children understand the importance of communication and respect language. Another class came up with a very interesting conflict for their opera. The plot was strongly led by the smallest child in the class. She led them to draft a plot that involved a very small girl who was not allowed to go into the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland. She was too short to gain admittance. She sought revenge for being turned away. The third graders identified very well to the conflict. The little girl determined to blow up Disneyland by filling a school bus with explosives and driving it into the park. I allowed them to continue and wrote down all their ideas on the board. She girl succeeded in her project and Disneyland was destroyed. The class cheered! I asked them how the conflict was resolved. Who won? They purported that the little girl won. I asked how she won, did she get into the ride? Is revenge a real form of winning? Did anyone else win? No one could ever ride again. There was a thoughtful silence in the room. They all determined that no one won from this scenario, and they determined to abandon the plot and move to another. It would take a great deal of reading and discussion of the elements of revenge and terrorism to haveaccomplished the same understanding as working through this drama.


In a speech entitled “Today’s Job Market” given by U.S. Secretary of Education, Richard W. Riley he states that: “Extraordinary benefits, both tangible and intangible..that come from involvement in music and the arts and from the integration of arts education into the overall learning process. The intangibles are quite clear, as I know the students here understand. There is nothing that quite equals the satisfaction and joy that can come from involving yourself in the Act of painting, or of listening to, playing,` or composing a piece of music, or of being a part of a dance, a play or an orchestra. Very tangible and measurable benefits...higher on tests, better abstract reasoning, development of math, science and engineering skills. Drawing can help with writing. Songs and poetry can make facts more easily memorable. Drama can bring history to life. And creative movement can make other processes more understandable. There is also a clear relationship between increased use of the arts in teaching and learning and improved academic performance and test scores, increased attendance by students and teachers, and lower drop out rates. Sharing in learning about the arts also offers an important way to break down the barriers of all types–race, gender, economic. There is a great need for graphic designers, software producers, and other jobs that benefit from creative individuals with a background in the arts. As one CEO said”Today’s students need arts education now more than ever. Yes, they need the basics. But today, there are two sets of basics. The first - - reading, writing and math - - is simply the prerequisite for a second, more complex, equally vital collection of higher-level skills required to function well in today’s world. The arts provide an unparalleled opportunity to each of these high-level basics that are increasingly critical not only to tomorrow’s work force, but also today’s.” Speech by Richard W. Riley, U.S. Secretary of Education, Mar 19,` 1993, United States Department of Education Public Affairs The U.S. Department of Education concurred in a statement: “Children naturally sing, dance, draw and roleplay in an effort to understand the world around them and communicate their thoughts about it. A growing body of evidence demonstrates that when their caretakers engage them in these activities early in life on a regular basis, they are helping wire the children’s brains for successful learning.” U.S. Department of Education


With what we have addressed to this point, what are the tools we can gain to insure a bright and prosperous future? The U.S. Department of Labor issued a report in 1991 urging schools to teach for the future workplace. The skills recommended (working in teams, communication, self-esteem, creative thinking, imagination, and invention) are exactly those learned in school music and arts education programs 191 SCANS Report, U.S. Department of Commerce.


Earlier, I described the profound help that was given to me when I moved to New York City and was given the opportunity to practice on the piano of Joyce Gibson who lived on 112th ??? and Riverside Drive. I have undying love for that dear woman who made that available to me. It made the difference of success and failure in those early years. With that introduction you can understand my deep dismay when I heard that Joyce had suffered a massive stroke during the Thanksgiving holiday season and was hospitalized in New York’s ???? hospital. Her neighbor Peggy stayed at her side and tried to communicate with her to no avail. Miraculously during that holiday season a group of carolers came through the halls of the hospital and Peggy noticed Joyce’s interest in what they were doing. She invited them into Joyce’s room and saw clearly her delight in their being there. She even noticed Joyce trying to mouth some of the words. During the ensuing weeks Peggy sang the carols with Joyce and even caused Joyce to join in. Little by little Joyce was able to sing the carols, even when she was not able to talk at first. How is that possible? A stroke is a neurological dysfunction which simply put “messes up the circuitry” in the brain. The order that had existed there is scrambled and the brain function shuts down to varying degrees. Music has so much order as we learned with our discussion of Clive as to superimpose order on an “orderless” or at least “disordered” brain. Often times the order of the music can “re-pattern” or “re-circuit” the brain into effective function. In Joyce’s case, it worked and she regained a good quality of life. What if the music had not been present at that juncture?


Dr. Howard Gardner is an acclaimed Professor of Education at Harvard University. He determined his important theory in the early 1980's. His purpose was to “Determine a profile of an individual and determine a strategy on how to best teach them.” His landmark studies propose the idea that we all learn differently and have various (8) ways of acquiring and utilizing intelligence. He asserts that in our present day educational process, we tend to focus to a fault on the first two forms of human intelligence; linguistic and logical, or simply in America, English and Math. He believes in doing so we do not tap the potential of the majority of students who may find greater success utilizing the other 6 forms of human intelligence. Gardner goes so far as to say that “School matters, but only insofar as it yields something that can be used once students leave school”. That paradigm of thought is revolutionary, but gaining in acceptance. I for one, agree wholeheartedly! Let’s examine Gardner’s eight forms of intelligence: Linguistic: From the Latin root lingua: tongue. It is that intelligence with which we communicate. Those who flourish in this form of intelligence read well, like words, remember spellings, conjugations, in short, those who abound in their native tongue. It is one of the key forms of intelligence upon which we base our present systems of education. Unfortunately for those who don’t thrive in this form of learning, it becomes difficult for them to succeed in the system. Logical: These are those who love to play with numbers. They are those who delight in mathematical machinations and cavorting in calculations. If a student excels in the above two intelligences it is smooth sailing for them throughout their academic career. But what about those who don’t. Spatial: This is the form of intelligence that can reason and judge relationships of time and space. This is crucial for those who seek to become engineers and architects. This is the form of learning which we were warned as parents of a child with mobility challenges, that we should not hold high hopes. Kinesthetic: Those who do well with their hands. These are they who flourish in making beautiful furniture, crafting fine instruments, understanding by hand how things work. These people make great carpenters, artists, mechanics, and technicians. If you are like me, and have to think through a keypad to remember a phone number, chances are you function well with kinesthetic learning. How many opportunities do students of the 21st century have to improve in these skills? Musical: This one is rather self explanatory. Those who develop this type of learning use both hemispheres of the brain and enhance the other 7 forms of intelligence Interpersonal: A person who deals well with others and functions well in a society. These of those who prosper through association with others. Intrapersonal: A person with this skill knows his or her shortcomings and talents and are comfortable with the results. They are secure in their abilities and are not frustrated by the gifts of others or their lack thereof. Naturalist: The addition of this intelligence came a decade later. He added naturalist as an intelligence (recognition and naming of natural things, cultural artifacts (cars, plants, shoes, dinosaurs) Darwin would have been a prime example. Gardner’s plea to the world of education is to strive to make available to students all eight forms of intelligence, or at least try not to base the system on the first two. It is his belief, and I concur that the vast majority of students do not abound in linguistic-logical thought and could benefit immensely by utilizing the other 6. Let us examine what might take place in an early morning choir class in school. Which forms of human intelligence, by Gardner’s definition will be utilized? Linguistic? Yes, whether in their native tongue or in a foreign language. Music by it’s nature has it’s own “foreign language” or symbols and signs and Italian, Latin, German and French notations as well. Linguists recognize that the ability of learning a foreign language later in life is greatly enhanced by doing so as a child. Children who learn music have that advantage. Logical? Yes, music IS math at a very high level. It requires multiplication, division, addition and subtraction skills. It requires the highest form of number concepts and as Einstein put it: it is the “fun part” of math. Spatial? Music is one of the best ways to see relationships of time and space, and as I discussed earlier with our son Ben, it is a means whereby some children can function in this way when theyu cannot in the traditional means. Kinesthetic? For a singer to produce a sound he must create it with his body, his lungs, his vocal cords, his mouth and teeth. It is a very physical discipline with aerobic and calisthenic benefit. Musical? This one goes without saying. Interpersonal? To create harmony in a choir requires hearing and adjusting to other voices. To match pitch and synchronize rhythm requires working together with others and enjoying it. Intrapersonal? To develop as a singer or musician requires understanding ones capabilities and lack of skill as well. Determining which part to sing in the choir requires understanding one’s range and stamina. Naturalist? Musicians develop the ability to recognize patterns and similarities, the same skill used by a computer to function. In case you didn’t notice, ALL the intelligences proposed by Dr. Gardner are used in the choir class. Imagine if a student has that opportunity first thing in the morning how the rest of the day will improve in productivity. Is it any wonder why students who have access to creative classes at school are at the top of the academic curve? One needs only to attend a graduation exercise and witness where the valedictorians come from...the choir, the band and the orchestra. This is not to imply that students who are attracted to music are smarter. I am sure from personal experience that they are not. What they do have is the marked advantage of using more types of intelligences and the ability to use more of the brain more of the time. And yet, we continue to cut funding to the arts in education.


In 1980 my wife and I embarked upon an unusual adventure for us. We determined to enroll in a “brain symposium” in Cedar City, Utah. We had never done anything like that, but the lure of the renowned Utah Shakespearean Festival weighted the scale for our participation. During those days, exploration of the human brain was a new frontier, and the thesis that there were two hemispheres with different functions was revolutionary. We read voraciously and reported to each other on our findings. It was exhilarating and exciting. During that conference, I met Kim Peak?? For the first time. It is Kim’s life upon which, with some poetic license, The Rainman is based starring Dustin Hoffman. Kim’s devoted father Fran introduced us. I judged Kim to be about my age. Kim asked where we lived. I told him the upper west side of New York City. After a moment of looking at the ground and slightly rocking on his feet he said, “Your phone number is 212-580...” He was right! I was astonished and a bit unnerved. Fran chuckled and said, “don’t be alarmed, Kim likes numbers.” He went on to explain that Kim loves to look at phone books. He is drawn to the order with which they are laid out. Fran went on to explain why that is the reason Kim loves music. Music is the epitome of order. Our paths have crossed a number of times since then, I have never ceased to be amazed at how Kim’s profound genius in matters of music and order supercede his challenges in dealing with normal life. Those tasks which are second nature to us like tying shoes, dressing, and writing are very difficult and nigh unto impossible. Yet, the high level processing of music and ordering is in prodigy proportion. I have had fun playing “stump Kim” on the piano keyboard under the stress of doing it before hundreds of people, and have never found a piece of music of a serious nature (classical) music that Kim cannot recognize in a matter of a few bars. His ability to store and catagorize music is astonishing. Kim clearly possesses that 8th form of learning referred to by Dr. Howard Gardner in his “Theory of Multiple Intelligences” published in The Frame of Mind in 1985. It is the Naturalist ability to recognize and name natural things, cultural artifacts (cars, plants, shoes, dinosaurs, songs) I feel so honored to call Kim a friend and witness first hand the wondrous capacity of the human spirit.


In 1983 a television movie was made starring Clois Leachman called The Woman Who Willed a Miracle. It is based on the amazing true life account of Mae ??? and her adopted son Leslie. Leslie was born blind and abandoned with compound disabilities. An agency brought him to Mae to care for. They warned her that it was not likely that Leslie would survive, but May’s indomitable spirit not only saved little Leslie but taught him to swallow, and after years, to walk. He could not communicate in any functional way and required continual care from Mae and her husband. One night after Mae and her husband had gone to bed, she heard sound coming from the living room. She asked her husband if he had left the television running. He insisted that he had not. She ventured out through the dark house to discover that it was not the television at all, but Leslie was seated in the darkness at the piano playing songs by ear that he had heard from the radio. Leslie possessed the savant quality (profound genius in an otherwise disabled mind), which enabled him to play by ear anything that he heard. Later on he was able to mimic famous singers with remarkable accuracy. Mae did not have the benefit of today’s remarkable technology to see how music forces the brain into functioning at a higher level, but she did recognize a special power therein that created a “miracle.” She refers to the ingredient as “love” living in the music. Perhaps she is right.


Some time back, Alberta O’Brien sent me an interesting story about a neighbor in the great Northwest. It appears that her neighbor was a fine concert pianist who spent hours a day practicing. That goes without saying. He had discovered that his most productive hours were late into the evening. Living next to one of the many wooded areas of the Northwest, he had erected a studio with a large window looking into the woods. It was there that he placed his piano and spent many hours of contemplative practice looking into the woods and recreating some of the monuments of musical literature. Given that he had no neighbors on that side of the house, he often left the window open in good weather or at least uncovered with curtains. One evening as he was practicing well into the night he became aware of the fact that someone was listening to his pianistic musings from just outside the window. It was unnerving to him, and he walked to the window to see who was there. In doing so he frightened the interloper away. After a few consecutive nights when he was sure someone was out there listening, he determined to capture them on film by placing a camera at the window with a tripping device for the shutter at the piano keyboard. When he was certain the interloper was there, he tripped the shutter and captured the attached photo. ??? Racoons peering into the studio to hear his practice session. What were they listening to? Were they also attracted to the music of DWEMS (Dead Western European Males)? Had they developed a love for classical and romantic piano composers of the 18th and 19th century? I think not. Perhaps it was the unsurpassed order of the music. Perhaps it was the organization of harmonics and pitches relating to those of nature. Or perhaps it was that “spirit” again to which Mindy referred. Whatever it was, I am convinced that the creatures of the deep, the eagles that soar on mighty pinions and the fury creatures of the forest all respond to something out there. Is it nature? Is it supreme energy? Is it God? Man’s eternal quest through Art is to answer that question. We see the attempts in painting, architecture, dance, sculpture. We hear it is song and in symphony. It is man’s desire to explain the unexplainable.


In 1968 a group of Beluga Whales were trapped of the shore of the Bering Strait under a blanket of ice. The winter had been more severe than usual, and the ice had formed quickly to entrap these remarkable endangered creatures of the deep under an icy barrier. Being mammals, they needed to surface regularly to breath, and in doing so found themselves trapped under a solid wall with no ability to get oxygen. The whales faced the potential for annihilation. Scientists and wildlife conservationists from the Soviet Union and Great Britain sent mighty ice breaking machines to open the way for the whales to get oxygen. They were successful in their mission to break the ice, but in doing so the whales had become frightened and submerged to the bottom of the sea to get away from the horrible sound of the ice crusher. They stayed on the bottom until some began to die. The scientists and conservationists thought of a way to bring them to the surface. They concurred that whales sing to each other through miles of open sea. In fact water is a better conductor of sound waves than air. Whales can communicate by song for upwards of 200 miles. They determined to “pipe” sound into the water in the hopes that the whales would find it interesting and follow it. They began by playing gentle lute music which had little or no effect on the whales. They tried American Jazz thinking the more sophisticated rhythms might stimulate their interest. It had no effect. In desperation they determined to blast heavy metal rock music into the depths of the deep. In doing so, the whales submerged deeper into the icy abyss. Someone had the ingenuity to try some Beethoven. For some reason the whales came forth following the music to survival. What was the sound they heard. Is it possible that Beluga whales are afficionados of Viennese music of the early 19th century, or did they hear the sense the same ingredient that Mindy heard?


In 19?? I was seated a home during the Christmas Holiday season savoring every solitary moment in my easy chair. I bought the chair to while away my relaxing moments, but in the decade since it was purchased it has gotten very little use from me! My life is frantic and frenetic but on this night of December 27th I was enjoying being at home by the fair away from the madding crowd. As I was sitting there in blissful holiday peaceful repose the phone rang. I instructed no one to answer it. It could not be THAT important I thought out loud. However, the spirit of the season caused my sense of guilt to surface and I determined at least to look at the caller I.D. machine and determine who was on the other end. Much to my surprise an unknown name and location, Loma Linda, California peered up to me from it’s digital face. Who could this be, and better yet, how did they find me. With my high-profile existence it has become necessary to have an unlisted number to protect what privacy remains with my family. “How did they ever get my number?” I quarried, and the trouble they must have gone through was daunting. I picked up the phone to be greeted by Oscar Mink from Loma Linda, California. He was calling from a hospital there. He introduced himself and said he had a very important question he wanted to ask me. He continued, “Dr. Ballam, I heard a recording you made once called Music, the Divine Art, in which you said you sang for a man in a coma and he came out of it. Was that a true story?” It was with relief that I could respond to his question with affirmation. He went on to explain that his daughter Mindy had gotten sick just before Christmas Eve and had endured a very high fever which put her in a comatose state where she had remained, hospitalized for days. He and his wife had been told by the doctors there that Mindy had very little hope of recovery and it was proposed to them that they should remove all life support and let her move on. His question to me was “Dr. Ballam, should we do that?” Before I could respond to that most difficult of questions I asked if perhaps they had any indication that it was indeed her time to move on. Did he feel as her father that her work here on earth was completed? He thought only a moment then said “No.” I responded by saying “let’s try to bring her back!” I asked if he was aware of a song that held great meaning for Mindy. He said that he was certain that I am a Child of God was her favorite song. I told him to go to her side, hold her hand and sing the song again and again and watch for any sign of eye moment, muscle movement, respiration change. After doing this for an extended period I asked him to drop an occasional word and she if she will try to “fill it in.” He told me that he could not “carry a tune,” but that he was sure that his father who was flying in from Pennsylvania would be able to do that. I asked him if he would be so kind as to let me know what happened. Within a short few weeks I received a detailed description through the mail that told the following story. Mindy’s grandfather arrived and went to the hospital. He sat at her side throughout the night singing. At long last, he dropped out a word...I am a Child of ___. Mindy filled in the word God! He called for the nurses and family members who witnessed a repeat of the phenomena. Time passed and Mind filled in more lyrics until she could sing the song. It would be a difficult recovery, as Mindy would have to relearn to walk, talk, even swallow, but Oscar was certain that she had the fortitude and support to do that. The following August I was lecturing at a large University audience in the State of Utah when a note come to the lectern. It said there is a little girl named Mindy who would like to meet you. I knew instantly who it was and was directed ultimately to her seat on the front row of the auditorium. She was bright eyed and smiling as I knelt down to introduce myself. She thanked me for the influence I had been in helping her “come back.” I reminded her that it was nothing that I had done, but rather the love of her grandfather and the power of the music. I asked her if she remembered exactly what happened and she reported that she did. I asked her if she thought she would have the courage to stand before an audience of over 5,000 and tell them what she told me. She said she would if I could help her to the microphone. I did so, and this is what she reported. She said that she was in a “dark space” somewhere “close by but also far away”. She heard her grandfather’s voice and recognized the song. She said that the “spirit” through the music caused her to want to come back and be with her family, and she strove to come back until she was there. Mindy has made remarkable progress and has overcome monumental odds to regain her abilities with the help of her loving family. What is that power? That “spirit” to which Mindy referred. How often do we overlook the power music can have.


Throughout my lifetime I have been challenged with periods of melancholy or depression. Today, I have tools with which to deal with this adversity, principal of which is my determination to visit people in rest homes and hospitals. I have found that my own personal “pity parties” have less success when I am seeking out those who are in greater need of comfort. I cite this story not in any to aggrandize my own behavior, as it is a selfish motivation. I am the greater recipient of help than those I visit. In April of 1986 I was in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania singing the title role in The Tales of Hoffmann, with the Pennsylvania Opera Theatre. We were about to perform Offenbach’s immortal masterpiece in the oldest continually functional theater in America, the Walnut Street Theater. Though I was honored to be re-creating one of my favorite roles and in such an historic surrounding, I was feeling the pressure of the responsibility keenly. I was bemoaning the fact that Hoffmann never leaves the stage and is expected to sing more high notes and long sustained passages than surely God intended man to do. I was wallowing in self pity as I was walking home to my apartment from rehearsal one afternoon as I passed the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Health, one of the oldest hospitals in America. As I glanced up at the impressive red brick structure, the thought occurred to me that there was likely someone within those walls with greater trials than I was experiencing. Being a hospice volunteer, I went inside to seek out the hospice coordinator. I introduced myself and asked if there was anyone in the hospital who might enjoy a visit and maybe a song. She recognized my face from an article that had appeared in the newspaper and was concerned that I might sing an operatic aria and disturb the intensive care unit. I explained that when I sing for people at their bedside, I usually take requests and seldom raise my voice above a whisper. She said there was a gentleman on the second floor named Mr. Goldstein who was in the final stages of terminal cancer, but was also in heroic denial. She warned me that he had his bags packed and expecting to go home at any moment, but that in reality he could not do that. I found the room, which had two patients. It required passing by one bed in which a man in a coma laid motionless with his daughter, face in her hands weeping. I excused myself as I passed by and found Mr. Goldstein on the other side of a curtain, looking out of the window with his suitcase in hand. I introduced myself and asked if he could use a visit. He told me he had no time, since a cab was coming to take him home. He insisted that he was in perfect health and had no reason to be there. I played along and said perhaps I could sing him a song while he waited for the cab. He said “aaah you wouldn’t know anything I like!” I said “try me.” He said I love the music of Jerome Kern (which he pronounced as coin). I admitted to sharing his taste and began to think of which song to sing. Before I began, I thought it common courtesy to warn the young lady on the other side of the curtain that I would be singing for Mr. Goldstein. She responded by saying, “go ahead and open the curtain, I could use a song.” “Do you know what it is like sitting here day after day hoping dad will wake up. Hell can’t be worse than this!” I told her that I was sorry and perhaps a song could help. I began from Showboat, “We could make believe I loved you, only make believe that you loved me.” I concluded with “Might as well make believe I love you, for to tell the truth, I do.” When I finished, much to everyone’s surprise the man in the bed said “John McCormack”. His daughter literally leaped onto the bed to his side. “Dad, what is it?” she asked. “John McCormack”, he said again...”It’s John McCormack!” His daughter said “he’s delirious!” and called in the doctors. I said “maybe not” I explained to his daughter that John McCormack was a well known Irish American Tenor who lived at the beginning of the 20th Century. I asked the man if he knew John McCormack. He said “I love John McCormack, sing another one.” I did as he requested but was interrupted by a team of doctors coming in and trying to communicate with the man. As I tried to slip out of the room I felt a hand press mine, as the woman thanked me for “bringing back her father.” Though I thanked her for the kind words, I realize it was not me at all, but rather the music which was dwelling deep within his recollection. My bringing it to his attention had caused something in his brain to respond in an “awakening” fashion. A motion picture by that same title chronicles the heroic work of Dr. Oliver Saks in his pursuit to “awaken” patients in ???? from ????? commonly called “sleeping sickness.” Since that time Dr. Saks has devoted his life to the powerful influence of music therapy. He has pioneered many facets of this scientific endeavor and spends his time lecturing throughout the world on the remarkable potential music has to heal. As I tried to leave the hospital that day, I was met by the Hospice Coordinator again who had already heard about what had happened on the second floor. She asked me if I would go with her to the home of a couple the next day who needed a visit desperately. I felt I had done my service, and was about to have my nine year old son join me for a few days. She persisted that a Mr. Pasquale had been in a coma for many weeks and that his aged wife had worn herself almost out by keeping vigil at his bedside at home. She had not slept for weeks and was wasting away herself from the ordeal. Could she come and pick me up the next day and drive me out just for a moment. I consented to do so, being concerned about what my son would think of all of this. The next day, the Hospice Coordinator arrived and we sped through the streets of Philadelphia to the southern, Italian section. It was like being transported to a scene of Rocky, where the Bilboa family resided. The row houses had a similar theme of various kinds of Madonna’s in front of the houses as we stepped from the car to venture inside. Coming in the door I was greeted with a smiling picture of Pope Paul ??? and the wonderful smells of an Italian household. We were escorted into the living room, which looked like any other living room on the street except that instead of a coffee table in the middle of the room there was a hospital bed with a man lying in it looking very much like Marley’s Ghost. I looked at him as long as I could without appearing to stare, but could not see any signs of life. I began to worry that perhaps we had come to late. I pondered the irony of his name “Volare” which means to fly in Italian. He was doing anything but flying at the moment. We were asked to sit down, where the conversation turned to the weather and the opening of the Phillies’ baseball season. We talked of everything and nothing, but no mention was made of Pasquale until Mrs. Volare looked in his direction and began to weep. She said, “it is unbearable here. I wait, and wait hoping Pasquale will awaken. I do not expect him to recover and get well, but I want a chance to say good-bye. I am afraid to close my eyes in sleep in case I should miss that chance.” She explained how friends and family members had come by to spell her from the watch, but she would not leave his side. She regained her composure and asked if you could get us some cookies. That brightened my son’s face and she noticed. She asked us to follow her into the kitchen where she would get some Anise cookies and milk. My son hated the cookies but was polite, nonetheless. As we sat there in the kitchen I began to wonder why we had come. I blurted out... “could you use a song?” She shrugged and said “I no needa a song. It isa Pasquale who lovesa da music, and he would not hear you.” I persisted, but she continued; “you not knowa da songs I love, songsa froma my childhood.” I asked from whence she came and she proudly said “Napoli!” I smiled thinking any tenor worth his salt should have a lexicon of Neopolitan songs. I began “Quarda il mare come bello, spiro tanto sentimento” the strains of one of the most popular Neopolitan songs of history Come Back to Sorrento. I finished with “torna surriento, far me contar!” From the other room we heard the word “Surriento!” We rushed into the room to see Pasquale staring up into the ceiling. He had recognized the song. Mrs. Volare asked “Tu piace la contare?” (Did you like the singing?) He answered with “Si.” “Tu piace ancora?” (Would you like another?), she continued. He answered with “Si.” Mrs. Volare gestured for me to sing another. I moved closer to Mr. Volare and asked if he had a favorite song. He said “si.” I asked what the title was. I should have known even before he answered as it is the Everest of them all...O Sole Mio! Why not, a song about sunshine, peace, hope, home and love! It may well be one of the most “healing” songs ever created. Breaking from my tradition of singing sotto voce (half voice) at a bedside, I announced that I would sing it in the tradition of the Neapolitans, loud and high. I stood back as Pasquale smiled. I sang with all my heart and he and his wife looked into each other’s eyes. I knew the song well, having sung it in many of the great concert halls of the country as an encore. It always ensured an ovation. But this recitation met with a response which eclipsed all the others. Mr. Volare brought his tired, bony hands together to clap three times in gratitude for taking him back to his homeland where no one was ill, and where life was eternal. There was a miracle of healing that day, but not so much for the Volares as it was for me. At that moment I saw the greatest power music has, not to entertain, but to heal. It would cause me to set forth on a new quest in my life, one that I am still pursuing.


In 19?? I was performing a recital in St. George, Utah at an exquisite performance complex called Tuacahn. During intermission, word came back to me that a group of challenged adults from the community were present at the concert and would like to see me at the conclusion. When the recital was over, I made my way out to the lobby where I was greeted by a group of adults with various forms of disability. Having enjoyed similar opportunities like this one, I have discovered that there is a sweetness and joy than can come if one can get past the difficulty of conventional communication. One man, who appeared to be close to my age wanted very much to communicate something to me. His sponsor explained that he wanted to tell me something very important to me. He began with great difficulty, and though I struggled to understand what he had attempted to communicate, it was beyond my ability to do so. I could see through the earnest expression in his eyes that it was critical that I understand him. He took a deep breath and eloquent articulation he began to sing for me “I have a testimony, sacred and dear to me, Something that lies within my soul, something I cannot see...” He continued, uninterrupted through the entirety of this lengthy song. It was exact and clear and beautiful. I recognized the song from my childhood when the song was popular. I had not heard it since the 1960's. I suspect he had learned it at that time as well. There it lingered in his mind for over 30 years enabling him to communicate in fluency. There is a great deal of scientific data to explain this phenomena. Earlier we discussed the way with which music forces the brain to interface with both functioning hemispheres. In addition, music has an inherent order that in many cases can supercede the lack of order on the brain, forcing it to function at a higher level. In addition to the wealth of scientific data which supports these theses, it is incumbent upon us to not lose sight of the illusive if not spiritual dimension that music may possess.


Some Christmas season a few years ago, at the suggestion of Thad Carlson, who introduced me to visiting inmates in the jails and prisons, I went with a friend to visit some “shut-ins” in our neighborhood with a Poinsettia as a holiday offering. I had volunteered to visit the home of Horace Baugh and his wife. The Baugh family had been important in my formative years, as they were a very musical family. Horace’s brother Frank had come to my elementary school to excite us in the creative possibilities of music. He had asserted that music was not necessarily the stuffy art form where people wear “penguin suits” in dark concert halls and play on fancy instruments...he maintained that music was everywhere. He brought bells and whistles and noise makers and made with great delight from us, witty and charming music. He was great! It was my hope in visiting with Horace that I could repay in some small way the joy that the Baugh family had brought to me. When we arrived, Mrs. Baugh quietly confided in us that her husband was very weak and was reluctant to receive visitors. She sadly acknowledged that he was “slipping away” as she put it. We explained that we would only stay a moment, but hoped to bring some holiday cheer. He let us in and took us to the reclining chair where Horace was seated. He looked frail but pleased to see us. We sat down, presented the flower and prepared to leave. In doing so, I asked if perhaps I could leave them with a song that I thought they might enjoy. I went to the piano and began to play “Christmas makes you feel emotional. It may bring parties ???and thoughts devotional. Whatever happens or what may be, ??? here is what Christmastime means to me...City sidewalks, busy side walks dressed in holiday style in the air there’s a feeling of Christmas, Children laughing people passing meeting smile after smile, and on every street corner you’ll hear... During the verse I heard someone moving towards me from behind. When I began the refrain “Silver bells....” I was singing a duet. Horace had gotten out of his chair and was standing beside me singing in perfect harmony the refrain of that wonderful song. When we finished, I turned to see his wife whose eyes were filled with tears of joy. Horace said “have you got any more?” I said “about a million”. We sang a few more at which point Horace said “Dear, don’t we have something we could serve these good people” he went off into the kitchen to prepare a refreshment for us. In his absence, his wife confided that he had not shown this kind of energy for months. What was it? The music!!! I do not mean to presume to say that any form of music will create such an effect, but I wonder how many times we have missed an opportunity by not trying. Mrs. Baugh began to use music more often and the last months of Horace’s life was filled with joy and fraternity with his grandchildren and friends. Is this really such a new discovery? The Greeks used music for healing and energizing millennia ago.