Patients at Washington D.C.'s Walter Reed National Military Medical Center were visited today by Yo-Yo Ma and Arthur Bloom, two musicians with a commmon goal of making a difference in the lives of others through music. Bloom has been visiting Walter Reed since 2007, when he met a recovering veteran who, prior to sustaining a life-changing injury in Iraq, had been an avid rock drummer. With encouragement from Bloom, and with some help setting up an electronic drumkit, the man began playing again, despite having lost a leg in combat, and through regular musical practice began to fill his long stretches of recovery time with musical development.
Bloom has since gone on to found the Musicorps program (not to be confused with MusiCorps, in Chicago) in order to offer similar opportunities to as many recovering veterans as possible. With a little borrowed space from Walter Reed, he's set up a well-equipped recording studio and practice space where recovering vets can meet and play music with each other and with the professional musicians (including Bloom, of course) who stop by to check on their progress. Today one of those visiting musicians was cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who popped in to add his cello-playing to arrangements of "Wide River to Cross" and "Wish You Were Here."
Yo-Yo's visit to Walter Reed was one of two stops in the D.C. area today. Mr. Ma also joined Damian Woetzel for a visit to Savoy School, where Yo-Yo met with Principal Patrick Pope to learn about work done in the school by teaching artists, and also stopped by a classroom to collaborate with students on the poem "We Are Unique!"
Additional coverage of the Musicorps program can be found at Slate and the Wall Street Journal. There are also more videos on the Musicorps website, and photos from the visit at facebook.com/citizenmusician. The CBS footage of the Musicorps program can be viewed here.
Video by Erica Sheftman
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