music heals the soul

by Sue Metz

Music Heals the Soul

Many cancer survivors like me have found comfort in music. While sitting in the waiting room at Memorial Sloan Kettering before my latest checkup, I came across a couple of articles about Rising Voices, a cancer survivors’ chorus.

Rising Voices is described as “a lively creative outlet for cancer survivors looking for an interactive, unique and expressive support team.” This group is led by a Memorial Sloan Kettering volunteer and is free to patients with no auditions and no musical training or experience required.

“As a director, I knew I needed to find a repertoire that would please singers with a wide range of abilities and tastes in music.” — Sue Ribaudo, Rising Voices director

Rising Voices gather around the piano on Manhattan’s East Side and sing familiar songs chosen to be easy to learn and uplifting in mood. While they occasionally perform for other patients, their mission is not performing; it’s “singing as a celebration of survival.”

“The group is bound together not just by a common medical condition, but by the much-happier fellowship of music-making. Sometimes a member will come in late because she’s just finished chemotherapy. Most of us know exactly where she’s been, and what that’s like. But we just smile at her and make room in the circle.” — Phyllis Fine, Rising Voices member

As a performing member of Monmouth Civic Chorus since 1983 and its marketing manager since 2002, and as a patient at Memorial Sloan Kettering since 2001, I was struck by the differences and similarities between Rising Voices and MCC.

Monmouth Civic Chorus does require auditions and musical training/experience. Our mission is performing, and our music is neither easy to learn nor always uplifting. But we do serve as an interactive, unique and expressive support team.

There are many times I’ve dragged myself to rehearsal, worn out by stress and preoccupied with troubles large and small. By the end of the evening, I’m cheered and refreshed, less tired than when I got there. The energy of our director Dr. Ryan James Brandau, the encouragement of my fellow singers, and the benefits of deep breathing take me to a better place.

All other concerns drop away and there is nothing to think about but music. I’m grateful to be able to sing with MCC and grateful to be alive.

And the gratefulness will be celebrated with joy.

MCC’s first concert of the 2015-2016 season is Joy to the World at the historic Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, NJ on Sunday, December 20, 2015 at 4:00 PM.

with contributions & edits by Jennifer Hom

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