How Music is Transforming Lives

By Stephanie Thompson

It is so remarkable to see and discover new ways that music is transforming lives emotionally, mentally, and physically. Music is healing and it’s not only music therapists who are helping people to heal through music. Many musicians are getting on board to use their talents and gifts to help others use music in a healing manner.  This is making a difference not only in people who are suffering from trauma or dealing with health concerns, but is changing lives in those less fortunate, as well.

Vijay Gupta is the founder and Artistic Director of Street Symphony, musicians who connect with people who have been homeless, incarcerated or who are struggling with addiction. He is also the co-founder of the Skid Rowe Arts Alliance, an organization that provides art for and with the biggest homeless population in the United States. He, himself, has an impressive resume as a professional violinist, international recitalist, soloist, chamber musician and orchestral musician spanning a career of over 20 years.

The Skid Rowe Arts Alliance has many programs to incorporate music into those less fortunate’s lives.  They provide music labs, performance workshops and every Wednesday, they have a Neighborhood Sing where they can connect with each other through singing. I found these programs in their magazine, “The Skid Rowe Artszine” which is an impressive compilation of everything arts and music that they have established.

In a Ted talk, Gupta tells the story of how he met Nathaniel Ayers, the inspiration for the movie, “The Soloist.” He recounts when he first met him, to give him a lesson, it seemed to Vijay Gupta that Ayers was too far gone in his mind and mental illness of schizophrenia to connect with him. But, in a moment of clarity, Gupta picked up his violin and started playing. A miraculous thing happened when he did that, Ayers calmed down and listened and then began to play with Gupta…

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