The Healing Power of Music

Whether they gravitate toward classical or hip-hop, people have always found emotional solace in music. Now a growing body of research suggests that listening to music – or even better, making music – has significant health benefits as well.

The Jewish Association on Aging recently hosted an exciting, hands-on demonstration by Lori Frazer of the Yamaha Music and Wellness Institute that allowed our staff and senior residents to see these principles in action.

During her visit, Lori gave our seniors an opportunity to test drive the institute’s groundbreaking Clavinova Connection program, which has improved quality of life for people with Parkinson’s disease, veterans with amputations and traumatic injuries, adults with developmental disabilities, seniors in long-term care, and a variety of other populations.

A senior plays the piano.

A senior plays the piano.

Clavinovas, or digital pianos that imitate a wide range of symphonic instruments, give anyone – including those with disabilities and/or no musical training – the ability to create beautiful music.

After a relaxing breathing exercise, our brave senior volunteers stepped up to the clavinovas and began to play with Lori acting as facilitator.

They led a drum circle and large-group singalong to “Ain’t She Sweet?” They delivered lovely, expressive solo performances over soothing background music. They followed light-up piano keys to help them play a more structured piece, allowing them to hit all the right notes with ease.

Even the seniors who had been hesitant to perform seemed pleasantly surprised by their own abilities and left the piano bench beaming with pride. One resident with limited vision and the use of only one hand drew Lori into a warm hug after he completed his solo.

With generous support from individual donors, we are well on our way to bringing the Clavinova Connection program to the Jewish Association on Aging so all of our seniors can experience the same satisfaction and joy.

While music is the medium, the ultimate goal is to build community and reduce feelings of stress, loneliness, and depression for our residents.

If you would like to make a donation or become a volunteer facilitator, contact Beverly Brinn at 412-521-1975 or
Article by Sarah Burke, Jewish Association on Aging

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