Music. It is a constant companion in our lives, so ever present that it’s almost taken for granted at times. Our spirits are lifted by it, we dance and move to its rhythms, and it brings us great joy in daily activities as well as special concerts. But what many people don’t realize is that music is also a commanding force – a direct conduit to the neural processes in the brain. When applied therapeutically, music has the capacity to redirect and enhance neural networks in both rehabilitative and developmental areas for those with such challenges as autism, stroke, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, and many other challenges.
Several musical activities are currently planned in the Chattanooga area to share information regarding this extraordinary research. Music Therapy Gateway In Communications, Inc. (MTGIC), a nonprofit in the Chattanooga area dedicated to advocating for music in therapeutic environments, is partnering with several musicians and groups for this project. These events are designed to raise awareness in the form of unique concerts and performances.
The first phase of the project will be a magnificent chamber music concert scheduled for November 18, 2016, in the Roland Hayes auditorium on the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga campus. Chamber Music for Body and Soul IV will be free and open to the public and will feature area musicians Martha Summa-Chadwick (piano), Mark Reneau (violin), Nikolasa Tejero (clarinet), and Heather Anderson (cello) in a concert highlighting Olivier Messiaen’s masterpiece, “The Quartet for the End of Time.” It is the 75th anniversary of the composition, which was written in 1941 in a German prisoner-of-war camp. Messiaen was afflicted with synesthesia, whereby one sensory sensation triggers a response in a different sensory area; he could see sound and hear color. The 7:30 pm concert will be preceded by a 7:00 pre-concert lecture to explain the scientific benefits of music in the brain, as well as discuss the multidimensional music in the Quartet for the End of Time. This project is funded by the Tennessee General Assembly and administered in cooperation with the State of Tennessee, Tennessee Arts Commission (TAC) ArtsBuild Communities (ABC) grant program, ArtsBuild and the National Endowment for the Arts.
The second phase of this project is to bring music into the medical community in the form of musicians playing at various hospitals, rehab centers, and long-term health care facilities. While not actually “music therapy” per se, this phase will bring music directly to the medical community, so that the benefits of music as medicine will start to become familiar to the medical community. Various members of the Chattanooga Harp Ensemble will play in several locations over several months. In addition, musicians Martha Summa-Chadwick, David Dunn (clarinet), and Bryony Stroud-Watson (violin) (from Chattanooga’s own Southside Studio) will be playing in various area medical facilities.
By providing these outstanding musical experiences to the community in the form of both traditional concerts and performances located directly in medical venues, MTGIC hopes to raise awareness of the benefits for the brain achieved directly and indirectly through music. As a part of this process, MTGIC’s Executive Director Martha Summa-Chadwick is available to all medical, therapeutic, parental, and educational organizations interested in learning more about the power of music when intentionally utilized with biomedical music therapeutic techniques.
Neuroscientists are generally well aware of the positive interaction of the brain and central nervous system with music. But this knowledge of the power of music interacting in the brain has not filtered down “to the street level,” where it could help so many people. MTGIC seeks to change that situation by bringing joyful music and important knowledge to the Tennessee Valley.