My Grandma Taught Me... The Power of Music
Hi! I’m Joseph Francisco Kayne, the founder of The Power of Music. The Power of Music is an organization I started in the 9th grade that seeks to enrich the lives of people who are in need - isolated or detached from the broader community such as those seeking shelter, seeking food, receiving medical care, living in senior residences, or in transitional living - by providing them the joy and connectivity of live, in-person music presented by high school students. Any positive outreach to those in need helps, but live music is uniquely powerful. It fills the soul. POM brings the joy of music to those who need it most.
“Where words fail, music speaks” is POM’s driving principle.
I founded POM for people like my grandma.
My Grandma, Frances Rodriguez-Cabral, is a 92-year-old living testament to the power of music. She spent her life as a professional singer and musician. She taught me to love music and the joy it brings to everyone who listens to and participates in it. She lives alone in New York now, and I will often face-time with her and sing her songs, bringing her joy and breaking up her time alone. Other times I fly to NY with my family to be with her and sing together in person.
I want to bring that joy to the millions of people in our country who are isolated and feeling lonely. The Power of Music is a vehicle to organize high school students who want to be part of the solution, providing joy and human interaction to our isolated and lonely neighbors through in-person music. Shortly after establishing the Power of Music, Indian Hill High School students signed up to participate. It became clear that many students also feel that they can use their music to help others and support this cause.
The need is greater than ever as larger numbers of people experience social isolation. During the COVID-19 pandemic, because we couldn’t perform in person, we prepared and disseminated video recordings of solos, duets, and ensembles. Through this medium, POM performed for people in transitional homes, families living at the Ronald McDonald House where they stayed while their children were getting care, and mental health clinics where people facing mental health challenges came for outpatient treatment, among others. The Power of Music has now performed for many nonprofits in-person including the Grand Opening celebration for the new offices of Dress for Success, a toy drive for children on Christmas hosted by Inter Parish Ministries, Easterseals program for the developmentally disabled, and St. Francis Seraph Ministries, a well-attended soup kitchen in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.
The need is real. In the United States, nearly 43% of adults age 60 and older report feeling lonely, and studies show that such feelings increase the risk of dementia, heart disease, and stroke. Studies also show that in 2020 nearly 1.3 million Americans were severely socially isolated. (Donovan & Blazer, Social Isolation and Loneliness in Older Adults: Review and Commentary of a National Academies Report).
Any communication or interaction with people experiencing loneliness is vitally important to their well-being, but live music is special. Studies prove what we know intuitively – music brings increased happiness to people, and science has also shown that music has a positive physical effect on our bodies and our mental health. Music even helps reduce blood pressure and anxiety and improves psychological well-being. (Ferguson & Sheldon, Trying to be Happier Really Can Work: Two Experimental Studies; Badt & Dileo, Music for Stress and Anxiety Reduction in Coronary Heart Disease Patients).
That is the power of music.