A near-death survivor and career musician demonstrates the true healing power of music.
In his heartfelt chronicle of unorthodox medicine, professional guitarist Schulman celebrates his sixth year as resident musician in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at Manhattan’s Mount Sinai Beth Israel hospital. His own journey began years earlier when, at 57, he was admitted to the same ward as a terminal “Code Blue” patient with circulatory collapse following a routine pancreatic tumor excision. Along with the bedside presence of his wife, Wendy, also a professional musician, was an iPod loaded with Bach, Brahms, Debussy, Ellington, and the Beatles. It was, writes the author, “all the music that moved my heart”—just the thing to help him cope and sooth his spirit. Schulman miraculously survived his ordeal, escaping with only minor brain damage. He swiftly decided to redirect his music career toward patient care as a “medical musician” in the same ward where he was a patient just months prior. With a winning combination of anecdotal bedside stories, personal experience, and the research of neuroscientists, neuromusicologists, and fellow musicians, the author offers evidence of the calming, stabilizing, and synchronous (“entrainment”) physical effects music therapy can have on a patient’s nervous system, pain, and overall health. Though his own work in the ward was not without its share of trial and error, Schulman’s innate intuitive skills (brain surgery patients were treated to Bach first) and compassionate demeanor made him an integral part of the hospital staff. The author considers his proactive role in patient care and his own astounding recovery to have both been beautifully transformed “by the bridge that music creates between the healthy and the sick.”
An inspirational testament to the limitless benefits of music and its role in health care.