Music is Medicine was the brainchild of two sisters passionate about using their love of music to making a difference. Both guitarists, vocalists, and songwriters, Ariela and Leora Friedman, 19 and 15, respectively, started the project in their hometown of Baltimore, Maryland in the summer of 2008. In June, 2008, Music is Medicine received a $500 grant from Johns Hopkins University. That summer, Music is Medicine was brought to the Hackerman-Patz House – a facility that houses children who come from all over the world to receive limb-lengthening surgeries and therapies as well as their families. Besides donating instruments to the facility and performing for the residents, the sisters hosted songwriting workshops and produced an album, entitled A Friend Like You, of original songs written for the children. The children provided both the album artwork and inspiration for each song.
At the start of 2009, motivated to continue the program by the success of their first project, they applied for and received one of five Key Change Grant grand-prizes – a $3,000 grant for teens using music to make a difference sponsored by the Do Something Organization and the Grammy Foundation, with guest judge Vanessa Carlton. The Key Change Grant funded another summer of Music is Medicine programming at the Hackerman-Patz House in 2009, where another CD, entitled When You Wish on a Star, was created.
In early 2010, Music is Medicine was featured in Weekly Reader’s Current Health 2 – a health supplement for middle and high school students, and Leora was invited to Washington D.C. that spring to speak to elementary school students about Music is Medicine and the capacity of young people to make a difference. Music is Medicine has also been contacted by a number of teens and youth groups nationwide wanting to start chapters. In 2011, co-founder and CEO Leora was selected as a 2011 Global Teen Leader for her work with Music is Medicine.
Now, Music is Medicine is working with a team of interns and national staff members to expand and impact more children through music. Through various programs and creation of local chapters across the country, Music is Medicine hopes to show the world that music can be used to instigate positive social change. Check out our Get Involved! section for more information on how to take part in this growing movement!