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DRUMMING AWAY BLUES N.Y. CRISIS SUFFERERS ARE INVITED.

NORTHRIDGE - Ronald Borczon has provided music therapy for victims of the Northridge Earthquake, the Columbine High School massacre, the Oklahoma City bombing and other major disasters.

Tonight the music therapy professor from California State University, Northridge, offers sonorous therapy to any San Fernando Valley residents suffering unresolved Angst from the terrorist attacks last week on the East Coast.

With the help of Christine Stevens, a music therapist for Valencia-based drum maker REMO Inc., Borczon will lead a community drumming circle on campus as a way to help Valley residents express their grief in remembering victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.

``There's a sense of sadness we have over everyone who has passed away,'' Borczon said. ``It will be a time of grieving, even though we didn't know these people.''

The event is also meant to memorialize California victims - some of whom lived and worked in the San Fernando Valley. Borczon decided to hold a local drumming session after he noticed how distracted and depressed his students seemed in class.

``Our own students are really traumatized also - in different ways than people in New York. I think a lot of them are clicking into their earthquake mode,'' he said in a reference to the emotional distress many Valley people felt after the 1994 Northridge Earthquake that killed 57 and devastated the campus.

During tonight's event, participants will be allowed to bang away on 100 percussion instruments - African Mjembe drums, Brazilian tam-tams, bongos and table drums. Drum manufacturer REMO will provide the instruments.

The drumming session is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. on the lawn in front of the music building along Nordhoff Street.

Music therapist Stevens said she hopes the resounding swell of noise may lure grieving residents out of their isolation and somehow help them overcome the national tragedy that has left thousands dead.

``What we can offer through music is a vehicle for the things (emotions) that people don't have words for yet. Because they're still pretty much in shock,'' Stevens said.

Music therapy, which uses the playing of instruments as treatment for physical, intellectual and emotional disabilities, has existed as a profession since the 1950s, Borczon said.

CSUN's Music Therapy clinic uses a number of instruments, from pianos to xylophones. Patients may be trauma victims, autistic children or persons suffering mental disabilities. Music therapists work one-on-one with patients, who choose musical instruments that resonate best with them. Music therapists work in places like psychiatric hospitals, schools, centers for the developmentally disabled and juvenile detention centers.

Both Borczon and Stevens have done music counseling for victims and their families in the Columbine High School tragedy and for mental health and emergency service workers involved in the Oklahoma City bombing.

While drumming therapy helps heal wounded psyches, how it does this remains unclear.

``We don't really know that much,'' Stevens said. ``We do know that it makes a difference. I wouldn't pretend to tell you that it's because of this component or the other.''

Most likely, it is a combination of factors - the physicality, which allows a release, and interaction with people in a nonverbal way.

``There's also a not-thinking component,'' Stevens said. ``It just pulls you out of a thinking mode.''

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photo

Photo:

Ronald Borczon, a music-therapy professor, will conduct a therapeutic drum session that's open to the public - 5:30 p.m. today at California State University, Northridge.

Michael Owen Baker/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Sep 20, 2001
Words:570
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