Pablo Casals, legendary cellist and conductor, said, “Perhaps music will save the world.” As a philanthropist and entrepreneur, Emily Richards, a U alum, musician and CEO of the nonprofit music community ccMixter.org, is hoping to use music to change the lives of people battling neurological diseases.
Richards is teaming up with the University of Utah on a project called “Music for Healing.” In collaboration with the School of Medicine, School of Music, Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute and the Marriott Library, the project will allow students, physicians, musicians, professors and librarians to create music and language pieces that can be used to help patients with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, autism, epilepsy and other ailments.
“Music is an alternative door to reach memory,” explains Norman Foster, professor of neurology and director of the Center for Alzheimer’s Care at the U. “Its ability to inspire positive emotions benefits patients and also their family members.”
Foster is dedicated to using music to help people with cognitive disorders. His efforts include a multidisciplinary research project to investigate the effect of music on functional brain imaging. He is also involved in a statewide collaborative effort to improve the care of nursing home residents by providing music through its Music and Memory program.
The key to “Music for Healing”is the creative commons component, whereby the creators grant permission for their works to be adapted, remixed, repurposed and otherwise reused by others for noncommercial purposes. Students, faculty, alumni and members of the public are invited to submit original or public domain recordings including spoken word, a cappella and choral voice, instrumental melodies, classical arrangements and field recordings from the natural world. These submissions will then be incorporated into fully produced tracks, mixed and produced by students, faculty, alumni and the community at ccMixter.org. Through this project, a new publicly available library of music will be created to help patients and families.
“Music connects people in the truest way,” said Richards. “It is an honor to collaborate with so many across the U campus – to create healing music that will be accessible to people in need all around the world. I speak on behalf of the global ccMixter community in offering our thanks and gratitude for being part of this project.”
The J. Willard Marriott Library will be providing free recording sessions to students. To learn more about the project and to schedule a recording session, visit lib.utah.edu/music4healing/.