It’s been said that music soothes the soul, but can it help give voice to someone who has lost the ability to communicate?
Lynne Proctor, a registered nurse with Maine Medical Center (MMC) in downtown Portland, would later learn firsthand the answer to this question shortly after Kelvin Parlin was admitted to her ward. Kelvin suffered a head trauma from a fall and has been diagnosed with global aphasia. Global aphasia severely impacts the part of the brain responsible for communication, including written and spoken language.
Together with a team of specialists, Kelvin began the slow and arduous process of rehabilitation. He found it challenging to speak; the words that once flowed freely were stifled. Kelvin’s speech therapist, Donna Bisbee, noticed him flipping through his wallet and pausing at a business card that read “Parlin Brothers”. She soon learned not so long ago Kelvin was in a band and played guitar.
With this glimpse into Kelvin’s mysterious past, Donna began to wonder if a guitar would be the key to help him to speak again. She imagined what might happen if he held a guitar in his hands. Would he be able to play it after his stroke? Could he remember chords, adjust the strings, or tune it? And most importantly, could music be an avenue for Kelvin to regain control over his words and conversation?
It wasn’t long before Donna acquired an acoustic guitar from one of the occupational therapists, albeit on a temporary basis. And to everyone’s surprise and amazement, Kelvin picked it up and played it without missing a beat. From the simplest of chords to the more complex harmonies, he performed beautifully without any noticeable deficiency—which left the staff completely stunned.
Seeing the joy on Kelvin’s face as he held the guitar, Donna knew that a more permanent arrangement would be necessary once it was returned to its original owner. Working with Lynne, together they searched online for an alternative resource, stumbling upon the Fender Music Foundation website. Lynne saw an opportunity to help Kelvin regain his voice through music and decided to contact the foundation.
Uncertain if they would be able to help, Lynne reached out to Robert Huntley at the Fender Music Foundation to see what could be done. As the Distribution Coordinator, Robert determines which programs qualify for donations and keeps track of inventory. He decided to send Lynne a guitar after having learned of Kelvin’s inspiring story.
Donna continued to work with Kelvin and his newly acquired Fender acoustic guitar, however, he only played instrumental pieces. One day she noticed Kelvin humming a little and saw this as a crack in his wall to communications.
It was a good time to try something new: singing words.
Kelvin had just started to recognize printed names and occasionally would say a name or two. Donna suggested he try singing the name of his nurse that day. Laughing, Kelvin strummed his guitar and sang “Juliana” perfectly; he then spoke her name. Each day he progressed with names of the medical staff and finally on to more words in his renewed vocabulary.
Today, Kelvin plays the guitar not only for himself—as it has proven to help with his speech therapy—but for staff and roommates alike. And though his speech is still impaired, Kelvin continues to improve one chord at a time.
It’s why we do what we do.
This work, “Music Is For Everybody”, is a derivative of “Robert Plant fronting Band of Joy at Birmingham Symphony Hall, 27 october 2010” by Egghead06 at en.wikipedia, used under CC-BY-3.0 / Modified from original, and the work “Unity in Diversity” by fady habib at flic.kr/p/31RKR, used under CC-BY-2.0 / Modified from original. “Music Is For Everybody” is licensed under CC-BY-4.0 by Fender Music Foundation.
Got a bad crush on this kit @Crush #NAMM2014 #interestinginstruments #GiveMusicLife
Mellow jam @VintageVibe Electric Pianos #NAMM2014 #GiveMusicLife
Those are some pretty keys @VintageVibe #NAMM2014 #interestinginstruments #GiveMusicLife
Making music keeps you young #NAMM2014 #GiveMusicLife
San Bernardino Teen Music Workshop performs live at Disney California Adventure
[Teens rock out on stage after being selected in a very competitive audition from the Disney Summer Concert Series on Sept. 1, 2013.]
Recalling how his own interest in music performance began in high school and continued on through college, Bryan Wing created the San Bernardino Teen Music Workshop in 2009 at a community day school and today is hosted by the Boys & Girls Club of America. The Teen Music Workshop is an after-school program that provides an opportunity for teens to learn how to play musical instruments as well as write and record their own music.
As a counselor with the Richardson Prep High Middle School in the San Bernardino City Unified School District (SBCUSD), Wing had students with severe behavior problems and wanted to help them beyond traditional methods, such as one-on-one counseling. With a career spanning 27 years as a social worker, an educator and a school administrator, he sought productive ways for students to better occupy their time.
"I started the program because I believed music would add a positive incentive activity for students at my school,” says Wing. “The program quickly grew from less than 10 students to about 20 students from all over the district within the first year.”
[Guitarist and drummer of the San Bernardino Teen Music Workshop jam together before a live audience during the Disney Summer Concert Series on Sept. 1, 2013.]
With nearly 500,000 students, SBCUSD is the eighth largest school district in California. Wing knew the Teen Music Workshop would need to expand as interest grew. Not sure where to begin, he visited a Guitar Center and the manager suggested he contact the Fender Music Foundation. As a nonprofit organization, the Fender Music Foundation donates musical instruments to qualified music programs that are in need of support.
Wing’s music program fit the Fender Music Foundation’s criteria, so he applied for a grant and was approved. Just last year the Teen Music Workshop received 11 electric guitars and two acoustic electric guitars. Some of the models include: Natural Finish Jackson Soloist; Natural Fender Malibu Electric Acoustic Guitar; Red Fender Telecaster Electric Guitar; and the Amber Fender Electric Guitar.
The Teen Music Workshop is made up of between 30 to 40 regular students, which includes three performance groups and various solo artists. Additionally, about 100 students receive music instruction each week.
The city of San Bernandino is poor and many of the students who participate in the Workshop are unable to afford the cost of the instruments, so the program loans them out to those who qualify, Wing says.
Not long ago, the idea of selling a song for a commercial would have been seen as career suicide. Now, thanks to the music industry’s implosion and the rise of a new generation of artist-friendly ad execs, bands can barely survive without doing so. But has the bubble already burst?
Once Dylan started doing it, we all had license.
(Source: nprmusic, via hypem)
Dave is a music teacher at the Ramona Elementary School in Alhambra which recently received a grant for their music program from the Fender Music Foundation. Dave graciously accepts a Fender Modern Bass guitar. He and daughter Keena enjoy the harmonies created from the beautiful Gretsch Rancher acoustic guitar in Savanna Sunset red.
WE WANT YOUR GENTLY USED INSTRUMENTS!
Because we receive more grant requests than we can satisfy, we are launching a new instrument donation program so that we can put more instruments into the hands of students and qualified music education programs than ever before. If you have a gently used instrument that you could donate, you could change the course of someone’s life. We will be happy to refurbish your guitars, drums, flutes, violins, and just about any other instrument you see fit to give to this program. Donations are tax-deductible.
If you’re interested in participating in this new instrument donation program, please contact Robert at Robert@fendermusicfoundation.org for details.
Just trying to help you start your morning off right.
PS 22 Chorus -Ho Hey Lumineers Cover
These kids are fantastic!