Bizet, Grieg and Gershwin.

These are just a few of the well-known musicians celebrated as a part of a special outdoor concert featuring the Grand Rapids Symphony at the Spectrum Health Rehab and Nursing Center and Neuro Residential Care.

“It’s just another day in the neighborhood,” said Brenda Bristol, a resident at the Kalamazoo Campus. “I love music. I’ve been to a lot of concerts—even Kiss and Nickelback.”

Bristol and a group of more than 100 patients, residents, family members, friends, staff and volunteers settled in for an evening of music on a perfect summer night.

The Grand Rapids Symphony and Spectrum Health Music Therapy have been working together for some time. It’s all thanks to a grant from Perrigo and funds from the Music for Health partnership, which promotes rehabilitation and quality of life through interaction with live music.

Groups work in a rehabilitation setting on a regular basis to address movement, communication, cognition or mood through engagement in active therapeutic music interventions. And this special concert was a high note for the partnership.

Regular music therapy interventions include guided movements through music, instrument play with focus on movement rehabilitation, or voicing and language through familiar musical pieces.

Erin Wegener, music therapist at Spectrum Health, says this partnership is remarkable.

“We have both music therapists and symphonists working together toward neurological goals,” she said. “All of the ideas and interventions are based on neurological music principles, and this is really quite unique. We’re lucky to be able to bring this all together and celebrate what we do in a much bigger way tonight.”

Patient Shawn Wieland and his parents relaxed in their chairs on the lawn, excited for the performance to begin.

Shawn played the guitar before his car accident. And his music therapist, Erin, got him back into playing the guitar again. Shawn has been eager to get up on stage and perform, but today just isn’t the day. Some day though, his dad proclaimed.

“I think this is all just amazing,” Shawn’s mom, Peg, said. “Music therapy has been a door opener for us. It’s been a huge part of Shawn’s recovery. Even when he was in the ICU, we would play music for him. I think it really helped bring him around again because he liked music so much.”

Shawn and his family have been a part of the in-home program for more than 15 years. Occupational and physical therapists work with Shawn on a regular basis as well as a recreation therapist who takes him to various volunteer projects around town.

“He’s not quite back with the band,” his dad, Sheldon, added. “But he’s working on it.”

Diana Ledesma is another resident who enjoyed a night with the symphony. She has been in rehabilitation for about two months since having a stroke.

“I’m a Motown freak,” she exclaimed. “I really love soul music and Diana Ross is my idol.  I have everything she has ever made!”

Aashish Deshpande, MD, stopped by to remark on her progress.

“Diana said her goal was to walk out of here without a wheelchair,” he said. “It’s been great seeing her progress. She has been doing more and moving more. She is really motivated, and that’s the fun part of this job.”

Jon Strupp, a resident of two years, said this was his first time at a show like this.

“It’s a great way to spend an evening,” he said. “It’s a beautiful night, and a lot of times you don’t have the opportunity to be outdoors to enjoy the things that life has taken away from you.”

A familiar tune closed the concert:

“Lean on me, when you’re not strong
I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on”