His ocean blue eyes glistened with youthful energy and enthusiasm that day. His heartfelt words filled my mind with countless possibilities, and a vision of what could be.
He was a knight undaunted with an unwavering mission. It struck me that he was about to create a revolution that would reverberate throughout the world. Courageously resolute, he would not turn back.
As I reflected upon the elements of his dream, I realized my life was about to change.
For as I was drawn to listen, he was willing to share.
Speaking of personal transformation, he was convinced people could learn to move beyond their perceived limitations. Illuminating a comprehensive vision of inner balance, he recognized and believed in each person's ability to nurture or reestablish the gift of well-being regardless of health challenge. For him, the concept of wellness in mind, body and spirit didn't end with the individual, it extended to all humankind.
Though he sounded like a physician, sociologist and philosopher, he wasn't one. Yet his journey covered much territory in the school of life.
He spoke of a single unifying element that changed his life.
That element was "music" - not just any kind of music. What he elaborated upon was not a song or a symphony. It wasn't a concert, a band, a performer or an instrument either. Surprisingly it had nothing to do with ability, performance, accomplishment, or applause.
It was far more.
That day he taught me about living life fully through musical expression that had little to do with...of all things...music!
He described "Recreational Music-making" and defined it in the context of the Latin word, "recreatio" which according to Merriam Webster means "restoration to health." His expanded definition follows:
"Recreational Music-making encompasses enjoyable, accessible and fulfilling group music-based activities that unite people of all ages regardless of their challenges, backgrounds, ethnicity, ability or prior experience. From exercise, nurturing, social support, bonding and spirituality, to intellectual stimulation, heightened understanding and enhanced capacity to cope with life’s challenges, the benefits of Recreational Music-making extend far beyond just music. Recreational Music-making ultimately affords unparalleled creative expression that unites our bodies, minds and spirits."
As a physician focused on whole person care, it didn't take a stretch of my imagination to understand what he conceived. That day didn't end with mere conceptualization either. I joined him.
The rest is history - in the making that is. Over the last few years, we've worked closely to inspire people to take an active role in their own well-being through non-performance-based musical expression. And it's satisfying to know the word is spreading globally.
Our goal (notice how he's allowed me to share his mission) extends far beyond Recreational Music-making activities. We're convinced that a cultural transformation must take place in order build upon and sustain the concept well into the future.
This is described as "Musiculture" a term we’ve coined that suggests: "an integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief and behavior that extends man's capacity for learning and transmitting the expression, enjoyment and bio-psycho-social benefits of Recreational Music-making to succeeding generations."
From a speech I recently delivered at the United Nations in New York to a presentation we both shared at the Global Economic Summit of the Music Products Industry in Spain, people are now listening, learning and beginning to take the message to heart.
With the goal of uniting the music products industry and the healthcare industry to work diligently toward improving quality of life using Recreational Music-making as wellness strategy, we’re prepared to build upon a credible fund of knowledge that will enable this concept to encircle the world.
And it's finally happening.
A few months ago we began a comprehensive interdisciplinary Recreational Music-making program for seniors with a generous grant from Yamaha Corporation and support from Remo Inc. This multidimensional project is taking place at two leading centers: Wesbury United Methodist Retirement Community in Meadville, PA and Fredericka Manor in Chula Vista, CA. Through dedicated leadership and unwavering commitment, both centers are working with us to forge a new evidence-based standard for a sustainable Musiculture that has great life enhancing potential for seniors throughout the world.
Before closing, you should know that the man I'm working with, the visionary who started it all just happens to be the recognized "Father of Music-making and Wellness," Karl T. Bruhn. His genius and dedication is enabling all of us to begin tomorrow and every tomorrow thereafter on a healthier note - Mind Over Matter!
©2002 Barry Bittman,
MD all rights reserved