Campus: Northridge -- August 14, 2006

CSUN Music Professor Returns to South to Work with Katrina Survivors

Cal State Northridge music professor Ron Borczon spent time last October in Louisiana helping Katrina relief workers deal with the stresses following the hurricane.

Borczon, a nationally recognized music therapist and director of CSUN's Music Therapy Clinic, is returning to the South next week to again help caregivers find ways to use music to cope with the stresses of recovery and to bring a sense of community back into the lives of a group of young Mississippi musicians.

"A year may have passed since Katrina hit, but people are still dealing with emotional aftermath," said Borczon, who has used music to help survivors of the Oklahoma City bombing and high school shootings across the country.

Borczon has been asked by the American Music Therapy Association to lead a class in Baton Rouge for Louisiana caregivers on using music to find release and support as recovery efforts continue in the region.

"The goal of the workshop is to have people working together musically, sharing things musically, to support each other," he said. "Even though it's been a year, the caregivers in Baton Rouge are providing much of the health care and other support for the residents of New Orleans, which is still a real mess."

He then will go on to Biloxi, Miss., which was nearly wiped out by the storm, to work with the area's youth orchestra. The orchestra is made up of young people between the ages of 12 and 17.

"I believe this is the first time the kids have gotten together as a group since the storm," Borczon said. "A lot of the kids had their homes wiped out and most of the others were displaced. We are bringing them all back together for their first rehearsal."

Borczon said he will start the young people off with some drumming and pizza, and then have them work on a piece he composed that is intended to relax and focus them on the coming music season. He plans to record the session, put it on a master CD, and then send it back to the orchestra for use throughout the year.

"My goal is to bring a sense of unity and community to the group through music," he said. "It's been more than a year since they have been together as a group, and a lot has happened in between."

Borczon said that for centuries people have used music to help with healing and dealing with grief. It can play an important role as people continue to pick up the pieces and put back their lives after Katrina, he said.

Contact: Carmen Ramos Chandler, (818) 677-2130

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