An Oliver Sacks Foundation Best Book of the Year Selection, Finalist for the Books for a Better Life "Best First Book” Award, and a People Magazine Pick in nonfiction.
The astounding story of a critically ill musician who is saved by music and returns to the same hospital to help heal others
Andrew Schulman, a fifty-seven-year-old professional guitarist, had a close brush with death on the night of July 16, 2009. Against the odds—and with the help of music—he survived: a medical miracle.
Once fully recovered, Andrew resolved to use his musical gifts to help critically ill patients at Mount Sinai Beth Israel’s ICU. In Waking the Spirit, you’ll learn the astonishing stories of the people he’s met along the way—both patients and doctors—and see the incredible role music can play in a modern hospital setting.
Schulman expertly weaves cutting-edge research on neuroscience and medicine, as well as what he’s learned as a professional musician, to explore the power of music to heal the body and awaken the spirit.
In this inspirational memoir, Schulman tells of the healing power of music. After Schulman slips into a medically induced coma following complications from surgery for pancreatic cancer, his wife, Wendy, plays Bach's St. Matthew Passion for him through earbuds and his vital signs stabilize. As a result of his own experience, Schulman, a classical guitarist, resolves to return to the surgical ICU with his guitar as a way of giving something to patients in a situation similar to his own. One woman for whom Schulman plays he calls her Alice Blue Gown because of her blue nightgown is in a coma and appears to be unresponsive to his chords, but two days later, she's out of ICU, and she confirms that the music reached her and helped her heal. Another patient, Deena, is married to Ernie Harburg, son of Yip Harburg, who wrote "Over the Rainbow" with Harold Arlen; when Schulman plays songs by the Gershwins and Harburg and other works from the Great American Songbook, she connects with her past through music. The narrative can be repetitive, but Schulman nicely describes the healing effect that music can have.