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Music nurtures my soul and strengthens my brain

Written by Casey Hersch, MSW, LCSW

Growing up in a low income rural community, extracurricular activities were abundant--IF-- you were a child interested in outdoor sports. Hiking, mountain biking, skiing, camping, farming, hunting, fishing, swimming in lakes, to name a few. I WAS NOT ONE OF THESE CHILDREN. I was very sensitive to my environment, had many allergies, and my temperament or natural tendencies didn't coincide with these outdoor activities. I naturally gravitated to other interests and when I did, fortunately it was noticed and acted upon.

We had a piano in our living room; my mom wanted to learn to play. However, at age 5, my curiosity peaked as I couldn't wait to touch the keys. We listened to the radio often and I heard songs and then ran to the piano to "tune them out." My mom noticed my natural ability and as we didn't have the resources for two people to take piano lessons, my mom stopped her lessons and scheduled my lessons instead.

We made a lot of sacrifices so I could take piano lessons. My mom cleaned my teacher's home during my lessons so we could afford them--it was a necessary trade for valued services. On the weekends, my mom and I cleaned homes together so we had extra money to pay for lessons. It was such an important sacrifice for a long-term investment in me.

music heart brainThere are many negatives that can result from trauma and poverty. However, I am resilient and I always have been. In my life there were things that I call PROTECTIVE FACTORS that were present in my life and they buffered the impact of trauma. Trauma still hurt, but because I had these other protective factors in my life, I simultaneously cultivated a strength, power, and ability to overcome adversity.

Music is one of my protective factors--starting at the young age of 5 with the piano. I believe it is the piano that nurtured my heart, strengthened my brain, and reduced the impact of trauma in my life. It is never too late to soak in the benefits of music--it always offers protection.