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Music Hath Charms

August 11, 1996

While I appreciated Don Heckman's sensitive portrait of Tom Harrell, who is indeed an inspirational musician and person, I take exception to one point ("Playing With the Mind," July 28).

In my experience as a registered, board-certified music therapist, schizophrenia can be an obstacle to many aspects of a person's functioning, but not necessarily to "creative pursuits," as Heckman suggested. On the contrary, the lack of defenses or censors associated with this illness can enable easier access to the creative source.

Due to the commonly experienced disturbances in the content and flow of thought, however, staying focused and articulating one's ideas can be exceptionally challenging. It is here that music is a uniquely helpful tool; the meter in music is an organizing force, and it provides structure and a vehicle through which spontaneous creativity can be channeled.

Also, the use of words (which can be burdensome and vexing to someone with schizophrenia) is not required in musical communication. One of the beautiful and moving features of music (and of other creative arts, for that matter) is that it enables transcendence of obstacles or so-called deficits, and facilitates the expression of something unique that we all have to give--something of the soul.

LAURA KANOFSKY

Santa Monica

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