Art with a Heart: Stanley Jordan’s Music Therapy Mission

As a spokesperson for the American Music Therapy Association, Stanley Jordan gives back to the community just as much as he gets.

Since 1997 legendary guitarist Stanley Jordan has acted as a spokesperson for the American Music Therapy Association, helping lead what he considers to be his “higher calling,” an effort greater than mere commercial success.

“When I think back to some of my most profound experiences, such as hearing for the first time the music of Serge Prokofiev, Jimi Hendrix or John McLaughlin, I know I was changed irreversibly,” Jordan explains. “Good music touches us in depths we didn’t even know we had. In this way it is tied to our growth and evolution, both emotionally and spiritually.”

Jordan has had the opportunity to work closely with a number of Music Therapists over the past few years.   He spent time in the pediatric ward at Beth Israel Hospital in New York, working with Dr. Johann Lowey who uses music as a placebo so that high doses of anesthesia are not needed to calm children during minor procedures.   In Seattle, Jordan studied the emotional effects of music on physical health at the Bailey Bushay House, a skilled nursing facility that specializes in the treatment of people with life-challenging illnesses such as AIDS and cancer.  And at a recent Music Therapy conference, Jordan became fascinated by the work of Barbara Crowe, a researcher at Arizona State University who believes that sound energy has the ability to provide holistic healing.

“Western Culture is catching on to something many other cultures have known for a long time–that music can have healing powers,” Jordan writes. “The 1940s or ’50s bore witness to the birth of a new ‘Westernized’ form of musical healing, one that utilizes scientific research methods and trains its practitioners to high clinical standards. More and more, you can see music therapists in important places, such as hospitals, hospice centers, youth counseling centers, and correctional facilities.”

In recent news, music therapy has helped Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot at a rally in Tucson a year ago this month, learn to walk and talk again.  Her music therapist, Maegan Morrow at TIRR Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Hospital in Houston explained that after months of music therapy Giffords could repeat phrases “in a sing-songy voice” because she had learned a song that then became a chant and eventually aligned with her natural rhythms of speech.   Visit the American Music Therapy Association webpage for more info.

While at Centre College, Stanley Jordan will lead a Music Therapy Workshop at the Norton Center.  Students of music, psychology, and music therapy from Centre,  the University of Kentucky, and the University of Louisville will participate.

For tickets to Stanley Jordan’s evening concert, please contact the box office (1-877-HIT-SHOW) or visit us online.

Categories: A Closer Look

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