The links between music and wellness will be explored at a September event

Anyone who’s closed their eyes and been transported by a Vivaldi concerto, twirled at a Dead & Co. concert, or tapped their feet to a Cannonball Adderley solo knows the transformative power of music. Even more powerful is the act of making music, as legions of marching band alums, garage band members and drum circle participants know.

There’s medical and scientific evidence to back this up, and in September, current research on the benefits of music will be presented at the 11th annual Music and Medicine Conference in Cincinnati.

The Cincinnati Music and Wellness Coalition is presenting the event, which is open to the public, and is geared to physicians, social workers, educators, musicians, researchers, senior care professionals, and family caregivers who are interested in learning more about the healing power of music.

The Coalition was started in 2009, the brainchild of Arlene DeSilva, an executive in senior care who was also a classically trained pianist. She was searching for programs for seniors and caregivers that showed results in improving their quality of life.  With the help of leaders from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, local senior centers, and physicians, she formed a coalition of 30 members of senior care organizations, hospitals, universities, physicians, musicians, and nonprofits interested in promoting wellness through evidence-based, recreational music-making.

Along with the Yamaha Music and Wellness Institute, they started a program called Clavinova Connection, which makes use of the digital piano to encourage musical tinkering. Later, they established a program called HealthRhythms that makes use of recreational drumming.

This year’s conference will present research on the benefits of music on diverse populations such as older adults, caregivers, corporate employees, developmentally disabled, at-risk youth, mental health and substance addictions, students, refugee groups, health care professionals, and ethnic communities.

The full-day conference will feature keynotes from de Silva and neurologist Dr. Barry Bittman on “Creative Musical Expression: Past, Present, and Future Impact on Communities.”

Other topics will include “The Value of Data Collection and Evaluation,” and “Understanding How Creative Connection Impacts Cognition.”  Javoen Byrd, the executive director of the Hawk Foundation for Research and Education in African Culture in Olympia, Wash., will make a presentation on culture and wellness. He has organized West African drum, song, and dance workshops and created a drum and a poetry curriculum for incarcerated young men.

This year’s Music and Medicine Conference will be held in person on Friday, Sept. 8 at Mayerson JCC, 8485 Ridge Ave. Continuing education credits have been approved for multiple professions, including social workers, nurses, activity professionals, recreation therapists, and music educators. Registration is open at (513) 315-7393 or register here.

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Read more articles by David Holthaus.

David Holthaus is an award-winning journalist and a Cincinnati native. When not writing or editing, he's likely to be bicycling, hiking, reading, or watching classic movies.