Music aids with healing during pandemic

Slowed by the pandemic, musicians are providing a source of comfort for patients going through tough times.
Published: Mar. 5, 2021 at 1:25 PM CST
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - Undergoing medical treatment can be an isolating and stressful experience. Feelings that have only increased during the pandemic.

A non-profit comprised of professional musicians is helping with that by bringing live music when it’s needed most.

That includes Coleman Itzkoff, who Is used to performing in front of thousands. But during the pandemic, the American Modern Opera Company cellist has shifted to audiences of one.

Listeners like Wendy Lawson, as she undergoes cancer treatment at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

“If only for a temporary moment, their consciousness is taken away from feelings of sickness, of pain,” said Itzkoff.

For Wendy, a ballet teacher versed in classical music, it’s become an key connection.

“I will ask him, I will request for him to play something specifically, and that’s what’s so lovely is that you look forward to it now as opposed to having that dread,” said Lawson.

The virtual concerts are part of an initiative by non-profit “Project: Music Heals Us.” It is now offered in more than 20 hospitals across the country.

“They are just so thrilled that this is an option now,” said Andrew Janss, the co-director of Project: Music Heals Us. “Usually the only question is when can we start.”

It’s a lifeline for patients and musicians.

“It just adds a level of ease and comfort,” said Lawson.

New York based Itzkoff hopes to one day make the trip to California.

“I really can’t wait for that moment to happen,” said Itzkoff.

“I would first hug him,” said Lawson. “And then i would say ‘play for me’.”

A perfect ending note, for a friendship forged in music.

Musicians can play for five to 10 patients during a two-hour block.

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