Can music be used as medicine? Oklahoma nonprofit seeks to raise awareness

Norman-based nonprofit Music Moves Mountains Foundation seeks to raise awareness, money with benefit concert.
By Kyle Schwab, Staff Writer Modified: June 6, 2014 at 7:22 pm •  Published: June 9, 2014
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Music has the power to evoke emotion and trigger memories. But what if music could be used as a form of medicine?

That’s the mission behind the Norman-based nonprofit Music Moves Mountains Foundation and its benefit concert scheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday at the Blue Door in Oklahoma City.

The event is not only to raise money and awareness for the foundation but to inform people about the documentary film “Alive Inside.”

The movie follows a social worker witnessing Alzheimer’s and dementia sufferers awakening, or “coming alive,” after being exposed to music from their lifetime.

The film will play as part of the deadCenter film festival at Harkins Theater in Bricktown at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, before the benefit concert, and again at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

“Music is something I think that we sort of take for granted,” said Julie Frost, founder and director of the foundation. “We don’t realize its powers on a medicinal level. It is an art and a science, and we’ve sort of taken that for granted in modern times, through (pharmaceuticals treating) things like autism spectrum disorder.”

Frost started the organization only two years ago, but already it has several programs and services with the goal of offering free or affordable music therapy, education and community outreach to people, from children to seniors, in need.

Son and inspiration

Inspiration for the foundation came from her son Hudson, 8. He has an autism spectrum disorder but has responded dramatically to music therapy, Frost said.

“On a day-to-day basis, we have basically a playlist that gets him through the day,” she said. “To be able to go out the door and into the world and to school and every challenge he’s had, he has used music to get him through.”

Music has helped Hudson discover the world outside his world. From age 4, by listening, writing, and playing music, Hudson has seen great improvement in his ability to verbalize his emotions and cope with his anxiety, Frost said.

“I remember when he discovered The Beatles. He didn’t just discover them, he went to the extreme obsession,” she said.

Hudson memorized the ends and outs of every classic hit, from who wrote and played what, to even the details of producers and labels.

“He would listen to something maybe two or three times, he would memorize all the lyrics, he would sit down at the drums and he would play it, and sing at the same time,” she said. “And this is like a 4- or 5-year-old kid.”

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I remember when he (Hudson) discovered The Beatles. He didn’t just discover them, he went to the extreme obsession.”

Julie Frost,
Founder and director of Music Moves Mountains Foundation speaking about her son, Hudson, who has an autism spectrum disorder.

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