Written by Jon Minners
Read How Moby And Other Music Legends Have Contributed to the Cause
Three years ago, three men broke into Jeremy Deliotte’s apartment, assaulted him, set him on fire and left him to die. He survived, but both his arms were so badly injured, they had to be amputated. Others would have given up, but Deliotte began a long road to recovery at Beth Abraham’s Institute for Music and Neurologic Function, creating personally, meaningful music, and building on the reach of music to compensate for his lost ability to feel the world with his hands.
Deliotte’s story is just one of a dozen equally touching stories surrounding the artists on the unique music CD entitled Recording for Recovery. The CD, featuring patients at the IMNF, as part of the Music Has Power organization, was debuted at a release party on Friday, April 28, at Beth Abraham Health Services on Allerton Avenue in the Bronx.
“Each song on this CD collection tells two kinds of stories: one conveyed through the song’s lyrics, and the other of individuals striving to rehabilitate after a neurological impairment,” said David Ramsey, D.A., ACMT, assistant director of music therapy. “Pop song lyrics often reflect the writer’s fears, dreams, hopes, joys and disappointments. These songs are no different. They are products of the journey that occurred during the process of creating and producing music.”
Each of the songs on the CD tell the story of people who have overcome physical struggles to manage the demands of musical instruments and of those who have worked through cognitive impairments to learn and remember musical components, according to Ramsey, who worked with Deliotte and a number of other musicians featured on the CD.
Deliotte, whose songs Still Beautiful and Hello New Day are featured on the CD, moved those in attendance with a performance of an original song, Push. Performing was a big step in a three-year journey for Deliotte since the tragic day he lost his hands. “When I was young, my mother used to tell me to stop touching everything, but I couldn’t,” he recalled. “As a child, it was my way of familiarizing myself with the world. Touching is a big part of who I am – or at least who I was before I lost my hands.”
Now, he is touching people every day through his words and it has changed him for the better. “At the beginning, I didn’t know what to expect from this program,” he said. “But I say it helped me to go inside and express what I was feeling, as a result of what I’ve been through. I can utilize music to express what is going through my mind. It is pretty exciting. It is something I want to continue.”
Deliotte’s thoughts on his progress through the IMNF have validated the vision of Concetta Tomaino, D.A., vice-president for music therapy. Tomaino has continued to advance the music therapy program and through the Music Has Power organization, has worked with such big name recording artists as Moby to utilize state-of-the-art music and recording equipment to make the CD project a reality. Recording for Recovery is a realization of her dream.
“This CD signifies the accomplishment of residents in medical and nursing care that found a creative voice and gained expression through the work of a music therapist,” she said. “The stories on this CD are individual journeys of people who have found a purpose in life, who are able to share their innermost thoughts and feelings through music. Some of these people suffered strokes and were told they would never walk or talk again, and now they are singing on a CD, something we never thought would be possible when we first started this program, but has become the icing on the cake for music therapy. This CD presents stories of special people.”
Another of those people is Trevor Gibbons, a carpenter who was installing windows on the fourth floor of a new building when he had his first stroke, causing confusion and dizziness that resulted in his loss of balance and a fall that led to a spinal cord injury. After a year and another stroke, Gibbons underwent cervical spine surgery and then went to Beth Abraham for sub-acute rehabilitation. There, he discovered music therapy as a way of exercising his damaged vocal chords, as well as processing emotional trauma related to his loss and exploring new ways of building things in his life. Encouraged by his music therapist, Luci Butler, Gibbons has recorded two CDs of his music; two of which – That’s Life and Sittin’ at the Window with Michael Loban – are featured on Recording for Recovery.
“Music is my inspiration, my escape from sadness and loneliness and pain,” he said. “When I start to sing, it opens up my mind and I think there’s nothing I can’t do.”
Charles Allen, who has a song Crazy Little World featured on the CD, continued writing songs, a form of self-expression he discovered 35 years ago while living in Las Vegas. Suffering from polio and a number of other lifelong physical handicaps, Allen, became depressed, but through his music therapy sessions with Ramsey, the musician is writing again and looking forward to living a long life. “This really motivates me to do more things with my life,” he said. “I’m even showing up to physical therapy on time these days.”
Carey Gordon may not be on this CD, but he hopes to be featured in the future if more are created. After suffering a malformation in his brain, Gordon had a stroke and came out of it crippled. “Music therapy helped me to cope,” he said. “It got me to get up and dance. I couldn’t speak properly, but through this program, now I can sing.”
Now everyone have a chance to support the talented musicians and the program helping them to lead better lives in the face of adversity. Through a $5 donation, Recording for Recovery can become part of anyone’s CD collection. The money goes to help the program, which is not supported through Medicaid.
“The Institute for Music and Neurologic Function, was founded on the idea that music has unique powers to heal, rehabilitate and inspire – and that we can use music therapy to restore and improve our physical, emotional and neurological health,” said Tomaino. “The Institute is dedicated to advancing scientific inquiry on music and the brain and to developing clinical treatments to benefit people of all ages. We thank all who continue to make this work possible.”
For more information, call (718) 519-5840 or visit www.musichaspower.org.
For feedback, visit our message board or e-mail the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.