A Musician's Healing Gift
A piano with a lifetime of music lessons and professional performances will now bring melodies to local foster children, thanks to students at the UCF College of Medicine dedicated to the healing power of the arts.
Medical students painted the donated piano with medical images that look like art – including DNA strands that resemble flowers – and will present the musical instrument to Community Based Care of Central Florida, which oversees foster care and adoption services in Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties.
Orlando Realtor Chere Roane Rice and her brother, Glenn Lowery, donated the piano. It belongs to their mother, Gladys McCall Lowery, 97, a lifelong musician who worked as a radio musician, WDBO announcer, minister and music teacher. “Music has always been a part of my mother’s life,” said Rice. “I wanted the piano to go to something that would be a part of life. When I told my mother where the piano was going, her reaction was, ‘Now children will play it.’”
The piano is an effort of Art in Medicine (AIM), a student-run organization committed to uniting the arts and sciences in healthcare. College of Medicine students, faculty, staff and family members will perform a musical play called “The Generous White Coat” with the piano on December 6 at 6 p.m. at the college and will then donate the piano to foster children after the holidays.
The play, AIM’s second holiday art event, is the story of a seriously ill boy who finds hope and inspiration from his doctors. Ten-year-old Tyler Dean, the son of a second-year UCF medical student, plays the boy. The production is based on “The Good Doctor,” a UCF tradition. Each year, when students receive their white coats on the first day of medical school, Dean Deborah German asks them to list the traits of “The Good Doctor” they would want treating a beloved person. As students share their thoughts, German writes the words on a blackboard and the traits become the student’s “contract” with the medical school.
The piano is the second one the College of Medicine has donated. Last year, AIM President and second-year medical student Michael Metzner, who is researching the healing aspects of music on children, wanted to donate a piano to Nemours Children’s Hospital as part of his study. He noticed a baby grand piano on Craigslist but didn’t have money to buy it. He persuaded the owners to donate the instrument, which now resides in the Nemours lobby where Metzner and other medical students play it to the delight of patients and their families.
Metzner, a concert pianist before medical school with undergraduate degrees in biological chemistry and visual arts, believes that all arts help the healing process and have a place in medicine. “My hope is to change practice in medicine, especially in pediatrics, so that the arts can be used as a beneficial intervention,” he said.
The piano will certainly offer benefits to local foster children, said Karla Radka, vice president of Community Based Care. “Thanks to the generosity of the Arts in Medicine organization at the UCF College of Medicine, we can now offer the opportunity to our children and youth to explore the undeniable therapeutic benefits of music,” she said.