Waking the Spirit
A Musician's Journey Healing Body, Mind, and Soul
What do the musical compositions of Bach, Gershwin, and the Beatles all have in common? Besides being great pieces of music, according to Andrew Schulman, they promote healing in intensive care (ICU) settings. Schulman is a classical guitar player and performer and author of Waking the Spirit: A Musician’s Journey Healing Body, Mind, and Soul (Picador, 2016). Schulman did not receive training as a music therapist and only began working in ICUs after he had a near-death experience at one. Waking the Spirit offers a gripping account of his medical journey and his decision to give back to others. As a result of his collaboration with his former doctors, Schulman became what he terms, a “medical musician.”
During the podcast, Schulman briefly describes his journey and reflects upon what he has learned about music from working in the ICU. He also talks about how his work in the ICU has made him a better concert performer. In our conversation, we explore how music heals, what forms of music seem most suited for healing, and the role of musicians and music therapists in ICUs.
Andrew Schulman is the resident musician in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at Mount Sinai Beth Israel hospital in New York City and Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. He is the founder and artistic director of the Abaca String Band. He is also a solo guitarist and has appeared at Carnegie Hall, the Improv Comedy Club, and the White House. He lives in New York City with his wife, Wendy.