Hannah Moses Demonstrates the Powerful Connection Between Music and Healing

I have now been cancer free for 11 years. Music played an enormous part in my own healing process and has continued to be an incredibly important part of who I am. I can’t imagine my life without it.

Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Hannah Moses performs on From the Top

In January of 2001, six-year-old Hannah Moses (Show 241) was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphona. While being treated at the Cleveland Clinic, she found her cello to be a source of both comfort and happiness. Fast forward to 2012 – Hannah, now cancer free, wanted to share the healing power of music and highlight its importance as a method of therapy. She traveled to the Cleveland Clinic with friend and violinist Haruno Sato (Show 241), where they performed for guests and patients in the clinic’s lobby. She was then invited to attend a Cleveland Clinic Child Life staff meeting to share her own personal struggle with cancer, and how music became a powerful tool in helping her cope with recovery. She says the following about the visit:

Our goal was simply to share our music and demonstrate the important role that music and art play in healing.”

We asked Hannah a few questions to learn more about her visit to the Cleveland Clinic…

FTT: What was it was like having to stay for months in a hospital at such a young age?

Hannah: The hospital can be a scary place for anyone, but I remember it being especially confusing and foreign to me as a kid. The first thing I noticed was the constant noise – pagers going off, the beeping of the IV’s, nurses coming in and out of my room to check my meds; it never seemed to stop, not even at night. I never fully got used to all the sounds – which made for a lot of sleepless nights over the next several months.

FTT: What role did music play in helping you cope with this?

Hannah at the Cleveland Clinic Child Life staff meeting

Hannah: I remember one day my dad brought my cello to the hospital and my mom practiced with me like we did every day at home. Being able to have my cello there with me helped me block everything else out – not just the constant noise, but also the reality that was cancer.
It gave me a sense of something normal to hold on to, and some days that was the only thing that kept me going. A lot of people don’t realize how much children understand. I may have been only six, but I knew what was happening to me, and music was my way of coping. Because of the cancer, I could hardly walk, and because of the chemo I had very little control over my body. Being able to express myself through music was something that couldn’t be taken away from me; it was something that was still mine.

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On the Road with Joanne Robinson: Bogota, Colombia

The Filarmónica Joven de Colombia

A few weeks ago we had the incredible experience of traveling to Colombia to make our international debut in Bogota. Our trip was profound in ways we could have never anticipated. Rather than giving you my usual play by play, I’m going to ask you to click here for a blog that tells the story wonderfully.

I do have for you a sneak peek video of the show. It’s a long one (as there was so much awesomeness to capture!) but make sure you watch until the end. The Filarmónica Joven de Colombia (Colombia’s national youth orchestra) have a tradition of closing concerts with the folk tune “Colombia Tierra Querida,” during which they joyfully dance as they play.  It’s like a big festive celebration, and we were all taken with it. Please excuse the shakiness of the camera – I was up there dancing with them!

This episode of From the Top is dedicated to the memory of Maestro Matthew Hazelwood, and will premiere the week of September 24, 2012.

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Show 243: Listening Guide

From the Top’s broadcast for Show 253 was taped at the Newmark Theatre in Portland, OR on Sunday May 6, 2012. We asked our performers to tell us about the music they performed on the show:

Simone Porter, violin, 15
III. Allegro Animato from Violin Sonata No. 3 in C minor, Op.45
By: Edvard Grieg

I had the great privilege to perform the 3rd and final movement from Grieg’s 3rd sonata in c minor for violin and piano with Christopher O’Riley on From The Top in May. This sonata is certainly a favorite of mine. The third movement alone incorporates passionate melodies, elements of Norwegian folk music, overarching long lines, and excellent dialogue between the violin and the piano! I think the 3rd movement very operatic; it alternates between Nordic themes that feature exchanges between the violin and piano, which I consider flirtatious conversation amongst my opera characters, and passionate melodies which I imagine to be arias, declarations of love. Grieg employs many syncopated rhythms throughout the 3rd movement, which makes the music agitated and anxious at times, but in the end, the music takes a sweeping turn into C Major, and ends in celebration.

This sonata is all about human communication: most obvious is the interaction between the violinist and pianist performing, but I think that the connection between the performers and audience is just as essential. While I was in Portland with From the Top, we talked alot about music’s power and influence. I brought up the idea that music is a universal language that doesn’t acknowledge any prejudice, and invites everybody to join the conversation. I hope that with this performance, I successfully invited and engaged the audience in a lively discourse.

Post Show Reflection: Rather than a specific experience, my favorite memory is the way friendships developed between the performers over 3 days. We entered (mostly) strangers and left with new friends who will keep in touch and meet up when our paths inevitably cross in the future. Performing for a live audience and imagining how that performance will reach so many more was so wonderful! I loved collaborating with the brilliant Christopher O’Riley, all the people at FTT, and being with the fantastic and supportive Portland audience!!

Music can establish connections and dissolve boundaries in a world that can be so divisive. Music is the universal language and we invite everyone to join the conversation; art doesn’t recognize any prejudice. From the Top encourages a discussion in which everyone is accepted and welcomed, regardless of race, gender, age, sexuality, opinions, etc. Musical education brings peace and hope and light to society; the educators and educated benefit from the experience.

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NPR’s Deceptive Cadence: The Young Person’s Guide to Making Music!

Last week, we teamed up with the folks at NPR Classical to give a good look at the wide world of music for students and their families through their blog Deceptive Cadence. From practice tips to audition tips, we’ve had a lot of fun hearing from alumni and parents. We even had a couple of videos that we didn’t have room for! So, click below to hear more from our alumni about the joy of learning music!

Click above to hear how Sydney and Noah Lee came to love cello!

Click above to hear about building a practice schedule from sisters Serena and Alison Chang.

Click above to hear from Dan Peltier, father of From the Top Alum Colton Peltier, on music and baseball.

Click here to read Deceptive Cadence!

Rachel Rodgers Gives Back to Others through her Program “Visiting Young Musicians”

“It’s important for me, as well as others, to see and give back to those who are not as fortunate as we are. I think we sometimes forget how lucky we are. My motto is to keep things in perspective, because there are people out there who don’t have as much as you.”

When flutist Rachel Rodgers became a girl scout, she set a course for giving back to others in the world. Her music inspired most of her community service, and she wanted it be a central part of her project for the Gold Award: the highest achievement a Girl Scout can receive. With that goal in mind, Rachel founded Visiting Young Musicians (VYM): a program run by local student musicians to provide music and joy to patients in local long-term hospitals and senior citizen facilities.

As of now, VYM visits two centers on a monthly basis: the Blythedale Children’s Hospital and the Waterview Nursing Facility in North Salem. Rachel encourages a variety of instruments, mixing up the musical friends who join her for each visit. The programs also provide a mix of genres, from classical works to jazz (Rachel being a jazz flutist herself) and even Disney songs! She shares her goals for VYM below:

I hope to achieve developing a successful program that will go on for a long time after I complete my gold award. I also hope that the musicians will realize the value of using their passion as a way to help heal others that are less fortunate than them. And, most of all, I hope to lift the spirits of the patients and make their stay better.

We asked Rachel to share more about VYM and her experiences with these concerts…

FTT: What inspired you to create VYM?

Rachel: There are two reasons why I created VYM: first, I have a strong passion for music, and I truly believe that music is a universal language that is common to all. Second, I feel empathy for the people that are very sick and lonely, and I want to help them with my (and the other musicians’) music. Being in long-term care can be very stressful, lonely, and isolating – music can be very therapeutic during recovery.

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Three Days of Inspiring Events in Chattanooga, TN!

We had an action-packed visit to Chattanooga this past April (Show 252) where we were able to connect with a wide range of audiences from across the community!

The day before the show, we traveled with the Camerton String Quartet to visit patients and staff at the Memorial Hospital. The group played in two of the hospital’s central lobbies, sharing a mix of chamber and solo works ranging from Bach to Ravel. They even had the chance to speak with a few of the patients in between pieces. On the day of the show, a small group of residents from the Mary Walker Towers and Boynton Terrace retirement facilities came to observe the dress rehearsal, getting a “behind-the-scenes” look at how a From the Top show is made.

The day after the show, performers John Burton (trumpet) and Thomas West (bass-baritone) visited with 40 music students at the Dalewood Middle School. Thomas opened the program by teaching everyone a series of vocal warm-ups, then performed two of his favorite songs: “Whither Must I Wander” by Vaughn-Williams, and a selection from Claude-Michel Schönberg’s Les Misérables. He also talked about his own struggles in dealing with peer pressure, and how music has helped him in staying true to who he is and what he loves most. John was next, performing Grand Russian Fantasia by Jules Levy, followed by a fun jazz standard. He spoke about the importance of breathing exercises and demonstrated how variations on a theme work. He also shared one of his hidden talents: juggling! You can watch some of the highlights from their visit in the video below:

Victoria Young Brings Joy to Elderly Residents throughout Las Vegas with Music

“The experience of performing in the senior centers makes my heart feel warm.  I am so thankful that they enjoy and share my love of classical music.  Every smile shows me that I have brightened someone’s life that day with my performance.” – Victoria Young

12-year-old pianist Victoria Young (Show 235) believes sharing her love of music is an important part of being a musician. Over the past year, she has been visiting two elderly care facilities in Las Vegas: Heritage Springs Assisted Living Community and Torrey Pines Care Center. She visits the two facilities on the second Sunday of every month for about an hour and a half, sharing music and talking with the residents. These visits have allowed Victoria to bring music to those without access to outside opportunities and resulted in many new friendships.

We spoke with Victoria to learn more about her experiences at these two centers…

FTT: What inspired you to connect with elderly residents from your community? 

Victoria:  My goal is to share my passion of classical music with the audience. I hope that my playing can bring them into the world that I am in. With every note I play, I want them to see every “beat” of beauty in the music. I think they can feel my sincerity, and I hope to bring warmth and sweet memories to every heart. For some residents, I surely hope my music can ease their pain and loneliness.

FTT: What are some memorable moments?

Victoria: My favorite moments are when I’m playing and when I stand up to take a bow in the applause. It’s during these moments that I truly see the appreciation on the faces in the audiences. The biggest challenge in performing at these two centers is that I have to perform my music on electronic pianos. The touch of the keys and the color of the sound are so different from the acoustic piano. Nevertheless, I learn that when I play with sincerity, they will feel it and love it, and the flaws will go unnoticed.

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