Serendipity 2

In my post Serendipity and Collaborative Filtering I tried, somewhat clumsily, to explain what On An Overgrown Path was all about, and wrote..."the site will really work if it triggers more postings that open up Overgrown Paths from some of my own postings".

Image from Ruth Phillips web site:

Today brought a fantastic example of one of those overgrown paths opening up. I received a message in response to my posting on the Gabrielli cello works from Meanwhile, here in France which is a really excellent blog run by the fine cellist Ruth Phillips, who is also a teacher, and pioneer in music therapy. Ruth also has her own web site for her various activities which is well worth visiting. She also (lucky lady) lives in the Vaucluse, a few miles from L'Abbaye of Ste Madeleine visited in Pliable's Travels. Ruth's husband, the artist Julian Merrow-Smith, also has a wonderful web site, and to make it a clean sweep for the bloggers has his own artist's studio blog Permanent Red.

Meanwhile, here in France...... eat your heart out

It is great to find serendipidity kicking in. But it is even better to find someone that is making music work beyond the CD player and concert hall (or as Ruth writes "it is far more important than repeating mindlessly yet another Mozart 40 on a 3 hr rehearsal"). The work done by Professor Paul Robertson using the music of Bach with Alzheimer's sufferers, which sadly claimed Bernard Levin last year - is also worthy of the highest respect; see his web site Music, Mind and Spirit.

On sale from Julian Merrow-Smith's online gallery of his own paintings

I am aware though that there is a fine line here between music therapy and good old fashioned mumbo jombo. CD's of Mozart for Babies worry me in my favourite independent CD store, Prelude Records in Norwich. I have a passion for Gregorian Chant, but am nervous about the many Relax with Gregorian compilations that fill the budget shelves. (Katharine Le Mee the author of the highly recommended The Benedictine Gift to Music has also written an interesting little volume Chant: The Origins, Form, Practice, and Healing Power of Gregorian Chant). But the evidence seems to be there, the "Chalice of Repose" project in Missoula, Montana, makes live music available to terminally ill cancer patients (and which in another fascinating thread uses the Benedictine Cluniac tradition of monastic medicine). Doctors involved in the "Chalice of Repose" project were sceptical at first, but there is now a general view that although difficult to support with scientific theory the treatment works (although their web site does seem to wander into the area of Celestial Harmony CD's, but to stay open-mined here is a link to harpist Therese Schroeder-Sheker who is very involved in the project) . It is worth remembering that an early form of music therapy was Muzak, which originated in te 1920's to calm lift (elevator) passengers! For an informed take on this very 'grey' area, where pre-conceptions need to be controlled, see a well balanced article originally published in The Economist in 2001, and now available on the web.

Whatever the evidence at this stage classical music as an enabler in both education and healing is something Pliable believes passionately in, and it is one of the most exciting threads that has come out of On An Overgrown Path so far.

The Old Farmhouse Studio, Prof Paul Robertson's
Music, Mind and Spirit Trust and Retreat

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