For­mer mu­si­cian gets wish to at­tend sym­phony

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Classified Obituaries -

The Orion Per­sonal Care Home of­ten in­vites mu­sic ther­a­pists to help treat res­i­dents.

Ms. Bankston said that mu­sic of­ten vis­i­bly touches even the non-ver­bal res­i­dents. Some­times they smile, some twitch their hands and some tap a foot to the mu­sic.

“Mu­sic ther­apy can help with cog­ni­tive goals as well as so­cial or phys­i­cal goals,” said Jes­sica Mull, a mu­sic ther­apy board-cer­ti­fied ther­a­pist.

Ms. Mull con­tracts with Orion as well as other se­nior care fa­cil­i­ties in the area. She is also an ad­junct pro­fes­sor at Duquesne Univer­sity.

Ms. Mull has held one­hour ses­sions twice a month for groups of about 12 res­i­dents at Orion since 2007. She works to­ward a va­ri­ety of gen­eral well­ness goals and in­cor­po­rates dif­fer­ent ex­er­cises and ex­pe­ri­ences into her ses­sions.

“Phys­i­cal ther­apy and mu­sic ther­apy share goals, but in­stead of weights and ex­er­cises we might use choir bells so the res­i­dent can im­prove hand strength and co­or­di­na­tion, so­cial­ize in a group learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment and work on mem­ory in learn­ing when to play,” Ms. Mull said. “We have a nat­u­ral con­nec­tion to mu­sic, and we can use that con­nec­tion to ac­com­plish clin­i­cal goals.”

When Ms. Bankston asked Ms. Cramer about her fa­vorite com­posers, she said she en­joyed “Beethoven of course, and Han­del, Barsanti and Gersh­win.”

The PSO gala, as luck would have it, fea­tured world-fa­mous pi­anist Lang Lang per­form­ing Gersh­win’s “Rhap­sody in Blue.”

Ms. Bankston also reached out to the John­stown Sym­phony to see if it kept any pho­tos of Ms. Cramer play­ing in the orches­tra. The orches­tra sent sev­eral. Coin­ci­den­tally, Ms. Cramer also re­ceived a let­ter from Ethel Nay­lor — a fel­low for­mer John­stown Sym­phony mu­si­cian — the same day she learned she’d be at­tend­ing the PSO gala.

Ms. Mull said that though mu­sic ther­apy as a vo­ca­tion has been around since World War I, the mu­sic ther­apy in­dus­try has been grow­ing rapidly in re­cent years, due in part to pos­i­tive na­tional me­dia cov­er­age. Cases like those of Gabrielle Gif­fords, the for­mer Ari­zona con­gress­woman who cred­its mu­sic ther­apy in help­ing to recover from a gun wound to the brain, have been par­tic­u­larly eye-open­ing.

“I try to help res­i­dents main­tain their high­est qual­ity of life pos­si­ble through ex­pe­ri­ences with mu­sic,” she said.

“I think it [was] a beau­ti­ful op­por­tu­nity for her to be able to re­con­nect to that part of her life and to the mu­sic that she cher­ishes.”

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