Coalition for Disabled Musicians

On February 22, 1986, the Coalition for Disabled Musicians, Inc. (a  self-help non-profit organization) was formed. CDM was designed to:
1- Introduce disabled musicians to each other who have an understanding of disability-related problems. 2- Give access to an accessible rehearsal and recording studio. 3- Create "tag-team" systems and other adaptive techniques for pain, endurance, and other limitations. 4- Set up studio and stage bands for amateurs and professionals. 5- Hold live performances, produce recordings, and hold music workshops and seminars. 6- Promote public awareness of the disabled community as a great reservoir of talent and ability.

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The damaged brains of stroke patients can be "rewired" by singing, restoring the ability to speak to patients who have lost it, according to a study conducted by researchers from Harvard Medical School and presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Diego.

The findings came out of an ongoing trial in which stroke patients who have lost the ability to speak are treated with music therapy and taught to put words into simple melodies that they tap out with their hands. According to Schlaug, patients who had previously been unable to form any words at all became able to say "I am thirsty" after just one session.

Music has been used as a form of therapy for stroke patients since the discovery that damage to the brain's speech centers did not affect the ability to sing.

"People sometimes ask where in the brain music is processed and the answer is everywhere above the neck," said Aniruddh Patel from the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego.

"Music engages huge swathes of the brain - it's not just lighting up a spot in the auditory cortex."

Speech and movement are mostly controlled from the left side of the brain, making them vulnerable in the case of damage to that side.

"But there's a sort of corresponding hole on the right side," Schlaug said. "For some reason, it's not as endowed with these connections, so the left side is used much more in speech. If you damage the left side, the right side has trouble [filling that role]."

Putting words into song, however, appears to stimulate the formation of speech connections on the brain's right side.

"Music might be an alternative medium to engage parts of the brain that are otherwise not engaged," lead researcher Gottfired Schlaug said. From
Natural News

The hope of music's healing powers

03-01-10 by Melissa Healy

Yes, yes, it hath charms to soothe a savage breast (or beast, if you prefer to repeat a common mistake). But researchers are finding that music may be an effective balm for many other afflictions: the isolation of conditions such as autism and Alzheimer's disease, the disability that results from stroke, the physical stress of entering the world too early.

The hope of music's curative powers has spawned a community in the United States of some 5,000 registered music therapists, who have done post-college study in psychology and music to gain certification. Active primarily in hospitals, nursing homes, special needs classrooms and rehabilitation units, music therapists aim to soothe, stimulate and support the development or recovery of abilities lost to illness or injury.

While music therapists use a mix of improvisation and proven techniques to help patients, neuroscientists are looking to uncover the scientific basis for music's healing powers. They are trying to understand how music can help rewire a brain affected by illness or injury, or provide a work-around for injured or underperforming brain regions.

By doing so, they hope to better identify which patients might respond best to music and what musical techniques might best help them to regain lost or compromised function.

"Music might provide an alternative entry point" to the brain, because it can unlock so many different doors into an injured or ill brain, said Dr. Gottfried Schlaug, a Harvard University neurologist. Pitch, harmony, melody, rhythm and emotion — all components of music — engage different regions of the brain. And many of those same regions are also important in speech, movement and social interaction. If a disease or trauma has disabled a brain region needed for such functions, music can sometimes get in through a back door and coax them out by another route, Schlaug says.

"In a sense, we're using musical tools to particularly engage certain parts of the brain and then teach the brain new tricks — new tools — to overcome an impairment," he says.
Neuroscientists are exploring the role of music in treatment of some of the following:

Speech: For about 1 in 5 patients who suffer a stroke, difficulty with speech — aphasia — is a lingering effect. Schlaug and other researchers have found that by practicing to express themselves with a simple form of singing — something that sounds almost like Gregorian chant — aphasic stroke victims significantly improved the fluency of their speech compared with patients whose speech therapy did not include singing.


"In 1993 Goldman & Gurin’s work on psycho-immunology revealed that nerve fibers are contained in every organ of the immune system, which provide biological communication between the nerve endings and the immune system. They believe that there is a direct link between a person’s thoughts, attitudes, perceptions, and emotions, and the health of the immune system. This being the case, we have the ability to be proactive in the health of our body, mind and spirit through music." From Healing Music

Arthur Harvey, Ph.D., a music professor and advocate of music therapy, shared his feelings on healing with the Music for Health Services Foundation in 1995. He stated, "As an active (music) educator for the past 35 years, I knew I had to clarify what I meant by [healing], and [to heal] if I were to know whether I believed in healing through music, and believed it is an area that I want to continue to be associated with. While we all have our own interpretations of meanings of the concepts associated with healing and heal, Webster's New Unabridged Dictionary utilizes a musical term as synonymous with Healing... becoming SOUND, well or healthy again. Healthy is defined as... being in a SOUND state. To heal is... to make SOUND, or... to grow SOUND, or... to return to a SOUND state." In addition, I believe that we can heal ourselves by literally becoming sound and making sounds.


When people play or listen to music, a magical transformation takes place inside them. It brings about both physical and psychological changes. Music relaxes, releases, stretches and reorganizes. Melody reconnects the disconnected. Rhythm creates order in the midst of chaos. Music brings movement into the sickroom and stimulates in the patient a new awareness of their powers. Music has an energy that brings succor. In his book “Worte wie Klang aus der Stille” (“Words like sound out of the silence”) the late virtuoso violinist Yehudi Menuhin wrote: “Music is essential to life. It keeps us in contact with the totality of the universe as part of the vibrating cosmos.”

In the ancient art of healing, music, medicine and psychotherapy were seen as one indivisible unit. One source from that time is the Bible, when David plays the harp to help cure King Saul’s depressions. Egyptian papyrus rolls on medicine (around 1500 BC) describe the healing effects of music on the human body.  In many primitive tribes, the medicine man would treat diseases by trying to find the sound or song that the patient – or the spirit living inside him – would respond to. Clear evidence of the therapeutic effects of music can also be found in children’s chants, nursery rhymes and lullabies, as well as in Christian hymns. Then something that had been treasured and preserved for thousands of years was gradually pushed into the background by the onward march of science and the inventions of modern technology. But only for a while, for in the twentieth century the tide began to turn. As a healing counterbalance to the increasing pressures of a rapidly changing life, and as a complement to traditional medicine, music therapy experienced an upturn that it maintains today. From the Swiss Paraplegic Centre