• Past Forward – Part deux: A conversation with Pythagoras and Louis Armstrong

    by Julie Parker

    What if you could ask historical figures their opinions regarding current topics?
    I “interviewed” Pythagoras (6th century B.C.) and Louis Armstrong (1901-1971) regarding the concept of music therapy.
    Forgive my audacity.
    ___________________________________

    Julie Parker

    Welcome, Pythagoras and Mr. Armstrong. It’s an honor.

    Louis Armstrong

    This is a crazy scene, but I dig it. And, please, call me Satchmo.

    Parker

    Alright, Satchmo. How did you get that nickname, by the way?

    Armstrong

    Well, an Englishman who was the editor of Melody Maker Magazine, met me at the boat in England, shook my hand saying, “Hello, Satchmo.” Man, I flipped. I asked my trombone player why, when my nickname was Satchelmouth, why he called me Satchmo. He said, “Because the man thinks you’ve got Mo Mouth.” I’ve been Satchmo ever since. I was also called Boat Nose, Hammock Face, and Rhythm Jaws.

    Parker

    I’d like to discuss the concepts and benefits of music therapy with both of you.

    Pythagoras

    [Turns to Armstrong] I’m not familiar with your work. May I ask you, sir, your background?

    Armstrong

    My background? I’m a horn man.

    Pythagoras

    I don’t understand.

    Armstrong

    [Mimes playing the trumpet]

    Pythagoras

    I see. I find the lyre rather pleasant.

    Parker

    I understand you used stringed instruments as healing tools for various ailments.

    Pythagoras

    There are harmonics in nature, the elements, planets and the constellations. Music can align and heal and individual’s mind, body and spirit with the universe’s harmonies. I prefer the tone of the stringed instruments.

    Parker

    Universal harmonies?

    Pythagoras

    I believe it can be mathematically calculated that each planet produces its own note as it travels through its respective orbit. In its own way, the universe is a large instrument. I call it Music of the Spheres.

    Armstrong

    Music of the Spheres. Dig that. So, you think people have notes, too?

    Pythagoras

    Yes, I do. Specific groupings of individuals could either provide harmony or discord.

    Armstrong

    [Nods] I see that. One unhappy person can sure change a room. But, when music plays, smiles light up everywhere.
    I think every baby deserves to come into this world with the sunshine of music. I sent jazz and classical records to a hospital in New Orleans, to be played for women having babies.

    Parker

    You did more than that. Pythagoras, he created an educational fund, part of which helped create The Louis Armstrong Department of Music Therapy at the Beth Israel Hospital in New York, where they help with pain management, pediatric medicine, and oncological issues.

    Armstrong

    I wanted to give back to the world some of the goodness I received.

    Pythagoras

    You are an interesting man.

    Armstrong

    [Laughs] He thinks I’m interesting. It’s interesting that I’m having a conversation with this cat.

    Parker

    Since then, the benefits of music therapy for medical treatment and recovery has extended into asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), autism, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and post-stroke. It’s also used to address symptoms such as nausea, “chemo-brain,” and/or anxiety and depression, often resulting with cancer treatment.

    Armstrong

    Well, dig that.

    Parker

    Isn’t it wonderful how music can be used as a tool to complement medicine for newborns, children, and elders.

    Armstrong

    [Shrugs] Music has no age; music is life.



    • I am fairly certain that a conversation between Pythagorus and Louis Armstrong was never imagined until now!



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