(The Daily Dish) Music has always been a part of Cyndy’s life. After dedicating decades to learning everything she could about music itself, she set her sights on using music to reach the unreachable and teach the unteachable.
As a music therapist, she worked in nursing homes and hospitals. As a band and orchestra director, she inspired students of all ages to develop their talents. As a volunteer, she worked with special needs children, teens and adults to make things happen that many thought impossible.
Cyndy captured those stories in her book, The Starfish Theory, and joins us today to share a few examples of how the power of music has changed lives for the better.
The Starfish Theory is based on a story she heard as a child, describing an old man walking along the beach, tossing starfish back into the water who had been stranded by the receding tide. Another man asked him what he was doing and he said he was saving the starfishes’ lives. The second man laughed and said, “There are hundreds of them. You can’t expect to make a difference for all of the starfish!” The old man smiled as he tossed another starfish back into the ocean and said, “It will make a difference to the ones I do throw back.”
That’s the premise for the book, which shares personal stories of how music made a difference in the lives of some amazing people Cyndy has been able to work with throughout her life. The Starfish Theory has several stories about people whose lives have been changed because of music.
She has had the privilege to teach bands and orchestras in several elementary schools and has worked with children with varying abilities and personal challenges. At one school she organized a bell choir for some troubled kids.
One of the students learned the new instrument quickly and after a while, wanted to learn to play the trombone. Cyndy arranged for that with his parents and a few months later, he performed a trombone solo at his first recital. It was a memorable moment for him and his family.
But during the next lesson, his mom shared something with Cyndy. She said he’s never been able to read. But earlier that day, at the grocery store, he picked up a Little Golden Book and read it out loud. Despite multiple teachers and parents trying to work with him to read, he had always struggled. But what he was learning in his developing passion for music translated into other areas of his early education, and he finished the school year with the highest grades he had ever achieved.
Watching this young boy grow was personally rewarding to Cyndy as his music teacher. But the real power was in seeing the impact music had on his life and the life of his family as they shared in his successes.
Cyndy believes that for any challenge people face, there’s a way music can help that person address it. For example, years ago she was working in a rehabilitation facility as a music therapist. One of her patients had recently suffered from a stroke. She wanted to go home, but the doctor said that until she could walk at a steady pace, he wouldn’t discharge her.
Together, Cyndy and her patient came up with a plan, and the next morning, Cyndy played Glenn Miller’s Chattanooga Choo Choo on my boombox and she worked to walk down the hall, moving her feet to the rhythm of the song. After doing this a couple more times over the coming days, she was able to return home with the mobility she needed.
Music is powerful enough to help the young and the old to make a difference in their lives.
The Starfish Theory is a collection of more than two dozen short stories that will make you smile and bring you hope as you read about these amazing moments of triumph, made possible by the power of music.
You can purchase the book here and from other online retailers.