In the Beginning…
Music For All Seasons® (MFAS) was created in 1991. From the very beginning, our two founders, Rena Fruchter and Brian Dallow, believed in the power of music to heal, bring solace, and to change people’s lives. Since our inception, MFAS has been in the forefront of the arts in healing and wellness movement. We are nationally recognized as leaders in this field by the National Endowment for the Arts, which has cited us in their “Best Practices” publication and by the former Global Alliance for Arts and Health which partnered with Johnson and Johnson to support our groundbreaking research on the effects of live music on children living in shelters for victims of domestic violence.
Providing live, interactive musical programs to those members of society who have no regular access to the arts in hospitals, hospices, shelters, prisons and jails, halfway houses for foster children, and geriatric centers is at the heart of the work we do. In recent years, we have focused especially on youth at risk, with an emphasis on children in shelters for victims of domestic violence, and on veterans in our exciting initiative, Voices of Valor®.
The people we serve
When others forget, Music For All Seasons remembers” —Wynton Marsalis, MFAS Board of Advisors
MFAS programs are tailored to meet the needs of at-risk youth, seniors with mild dementia, patients facing end-of-life issues, and individuals dealing with various kinds of trauma. Our professional musicians provide music as an active part of the healing process in the five states we serve — New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and California. For some, our programs help to restore hope and aid recovery; for others, they provide relief from pain. In many settings, the musical programs are also educational. Our musicians represent a broad variety of styles and instrumentations. Our initiative, Voices of Empowerment, was created with assistance from a past participant of our Voices of Valor program for veterans. Voices of Empowerment is an eight-session program during which young people in a court-appointed residential facilty come together with two musician/facilitators to create and record a group song reflecting their experiences and hopes.
Our commitment to research
Studies indicate that music has a remarkable ability not only to make people feel better, but to actually aid in the physiological healing process. Music has been shown to contribute to shorter hospital stays, better patient satisfaction, and reduced use of drugs and medication. Music has been proven to lower blood pressure and pulse rates, decrease the need for sedative drugs, reduce the need for anti-nausea and pain medications in bone marrow transplants, and to significantly decrease, by almost ten percent, the length of time needed for such transplants to engraft.
Over the years, Music For All Seasons, in collaboration with the JFK Neuroscience Institute and its Chairman, Dr. Martin Gizzi, has contributed two important studies on the effects of our programs. The first study analyzed improvements in the quality of life of patients suffering from mild dementia, and the second demonstrated significant behavior pattern improvements in children living in shelters for victims of domestic violence. In 2005 MFAS presented a conference “The Healing Art and Science of Music,” disseminating groundbreaking research and findings in the interdisciplinary field of Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI). MFAS partnered with the JFK Medical Center, the JFK Neuroscience Institute, and the Seton Hall University School of Graduate Medical Education in presenting this conference.
How we are funded
Program costs are supported by gifts from foundations, corporations, and individuals. We are also proud to report that since 1995 we have received funding from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, since 2004 from the National Endowment for the Arts, and since 2009 from the Pennsylvania State Council on the Arts.
Music For All Seasons has been the recipient of letters of commendation from President George Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Governor Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey, Governor George Pataki of New York, Congressman Rush Holt, and Mayors Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg of New York City. We are also proud to have received two certificates of Special Congressional Recognition from the United States Congress, several Resolutions of Commendation from the New Jersey General Assembly and several Resolutions of Commendation and Appreciation from the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders in New Jersey. We additionally receive many certificates of appreciation from the facilities we serve.
In 2015 Music For All Seasons was awarded the Innovator Award by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the New Jersey Theatre Alliance for the program Voices of Valor. In November of 2016 Voices of Valor was awarded the first My Brother’s Keeper award by Veteran’s Haven North and in May of 2019, Music For All Seasons received the prestigious Jefferson Award from Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey. Additionally, we receive many certificates of appreciation from the facilities we serve.
In June of 2015, Music For All Seasons received an Innovator Award for the Voices of Valor program from The Cultural Access Network Project; a program of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
In April of 2017, Music For All Seasons received the Community Service Award from the Center for Hope and Safety. Also in April of 2017, MFAS recived Johnson & Johnson’s Community Service Award.
In May of 2019, Music For All Seasons received the prestigious Jefferson Award for Public Service for the Voices of Valor Program. In 1972, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. Senator Robert Taft, Jr., and Samuel Beard founded the Jefferson Awards for Public Service to establish a Nobel Prize for public and community service.
Voices of Valor
Music For All Seasons’ groundbreaking initiative, Voices of Valor, has been operating since the spring of 2011. The program brings small groups of six to ten veterans together with two musician/facilitators and a psychology mentor for ninety minutes weekly over a period of eight weeks. During this time, they use their shared experiences to write lyrics to a group song, set it to music, and record it in a professional studio. The final session is a CD release party during which the finished product is presented for the friends and family of the participants.
The leaders work from a detailed curriculum that has been developed in conjunction with our consulting psychologist, Dr. Raymond Hanbury.
The pilot year and a second year of this program were generously underwritten by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Currently the program is supported by generous grants from The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, PNC Bank, The Michael O’Donoghue Fund of The Orange County Community Foundation, and Johnson & Johnson.
Music For All Seasons is proud to have identified measurable results including: increased self-esteem, lower levels of anxiety and depression, a reduction in feelings of isolation, and a greater ability to interact comfortably with fellow participants and with civilians. Because the Voices of Valor program is achieving these results, Music For All Seasons is proud to contribute to the emotional well-being and social development of the participants, resulting in a revitalized veteran community.
We hope that you will go to the Voices of Valor website and that you will be moved by the honesty and power of the words and music of the remarkable men and women who have given so much in the service of our country.