Campus: CSU Northridge -- September 23, 2001
CSUN's Music Therapy Clinic Gives People Back Their Lives
It's a very simple color pencil drawing of a guitar, but it hangs framed
in a place of honor in music professor Ron Borczon's office at Cal State
The inscription reads in part "You made me feel as if I had a brand
new life." The picture is signed by Falesha Bradley, a survivor of
the Oklahoma City bombing. Borczon, director of CSUN's Music Therapy Clinic,
had worked with her in the weeks following the tragedy.
"She had lost her mother, her niece and her nephew in the bombing.
Her sister's leg had to be amputated and Falesha lost her ear. The side
of her head had been burned," Borczon said. "She didn't want
to talk to psychologists or psychiatrists, only a music therapist. It
was music that brought us - a white California music therapist and a black
urban woman from Oklahoma - together. Through music we met as two people
and were able to give her back her life."
Every day, Borczon and the therapists and students who work at CSUN's
Music Therapy Clinic try to give people back their lives. Their clients
range from autistic children and children with Downs syndrome to the survivors
of severe trauma and rape.
The clinic operates in a classroom in the university's Music Building,
when the room is not being used for classes. The therapists see 50 to
60 clients a week. Northridge students also go out into the community
to work with people in psychiatric hospitals, geriatric centers and other
Northridge's music therapy program started about 12 years ago and quickly
gained national recognition.
Currently, there are about 40 students in the program, and Borczon said
he gets three to four e-mails a day from people around the world inquiring
about CSUN's music therapy major.
Borczon said the therapists use music to help develop a relationship with
"Through that relationship and music, we help our clients meet the
goals they are trying to achieve in life, whether it's helping a child
to talk or getting back into their lives after a severe trauma,"
Borczon said that for centuries people have used music to help with healing
or to deal with grief.
"Healers have used songs and drumming over the centuries to help
people," he said. "We're simply rediscovering what they always
knew - that music, through its profound effect on mind and body, can be
a potent way to help people get well.
Debbie Clark, who has an autistic 4-year-old son, cannot say enough good
things about the clinic.
"I love this program. It has really made a difference in Adam's life,"
Clark said. "When he started at the clinic at the end of February,
he was only saying maybe two words or nonsensical stuff. God bless Ron
and Jim (Adam's therapist). They were very patient with him. The music
just opened up his mind. Now Adam doesn't stop talking.
"He doesn't know the days of the week yet, but he knows when it's
time to go to music therapy and he'll say 'Mommy, time for music therapy',"
Clark said with a laugh. "Back in February, he could barely say 'Mommy.'"
Borczon has provided music therapy to victims of the Oklahoma City bombing,
the shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado and at Santee High
School in California.
Last week, in response to the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington
D.C. and Pennsylvania, Borczon and his students held a drumming memorial
and unification ceremony on campus to help faculty, staff, students and
members of the community deal with the emotional fallout.
"Music helps you get out those emotions you can't really express
with words. It also brings you together with others in rhythm and helps
you communicate and create bonds without having to say anything,"