Ask Spoleto Festival goers, and they’ll confirm that music can touch people’s souls in an almost magical way.
They must be right.
Music therapy is an accepted way to address patients’ emotional, cognitive, social and even physical needs.
But at Duke University’s renowned medical center, music has become therapy for the caregivers as well.
For two and a half hours every week, 80 surgeons and students, pharmacists and phlebotomists, nurses, administrators and technicians become the Duke Medicine Orchestra, rehearsing Dvorak and Shostakovich for the group’s two yearly concerts (the spring one to occur today).
While they make music, they also make connections with people in other departments, and make the stress of their demanding medical careers dissipate.
“It allows us to focus on something else, to use different skills and take off our usual hats and responsibilities,” Nick Bandarenko told The (Raleigh) News & Observer. He oversees the Duke Hospital blood bank and plays clarinet with the orchestra.
Pianist and songwriter Billy Joel once said, “I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity.”
If he’s right, then just by making music, Duke’s orchestral caregivers could be practicing the healing arts.
And even if he’s wrong, conductor and artistic director Verena Mosenbichler-Bryant says she’s confident of the humanity part: “If I ever fall off the podium, I’m sure there will be enough people in the room to help me out.”