BWH, JazzBoston and RTH Unite to Improve Lung Health

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On April 30, the BWH Lung Center, BWH Center for Pulmonary Heart Disease and JazzBoston—a nonprofit advocacy organization for Greater Boston’s jazz community—teamed up with the Roxbury Tenants of Harvard (RTH) for the first “Good Music = Good Health Jazz Fair,” a community-based health and wellness event held in RTH’s outdoor Levinson Plaza in Mission Hill. In addition to spirited musical performances, the event provided education about lung health, physical fitness and nutrition to community members.

The event is the result of the Lung Center and JazzBoston’s joint initiative in music and medicine, announced last month, to create a new model for managing and improving lung health based on the breathing and blowing techniques of jazz singers and wind instrumentalists. The April 30 event, which coincided with International Jazz Day, was a great way to kick off an important partnership, said Bruce Levy, MD, medical director of the Lung Center and chief of the Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Division.

“Music therapy is increasingly recognized for its holistic roles in health and healthy living,” Levy said. “We are delighted to join these outstanding community leaders in a unique collaboration that promotes music as a healing medium and expands both our organizations’ outreach to the city of Boston.”

BWHers Aaron Waxman, MD, PhD, director of the Pulmonary Vascular Disease Program; Brad Wertheim, MD, of the Center for Chest Diseases; Abbey Karin and Julie Tracy, senior exercise physiologists in the Dyspnea and Performance Evaluation Program; Eliza Shirazi, BWH health and fitness specialist; staff from Brigham and Women’s Primary Care Associates, Longwood; and others were on hand to talk with community members about their lung health. Jackie Rodriguez-Louis, MPH, MEd, program coordinator for the Partners Asthma Center, provided smoking cessation education.

More than 300 people attended and were able to participate in asthma and blood pressure screenings and exercise assessments, while performers from JazzBoston encouraged attendees to join in on the music-making. The event included an instrument petting zoo, which gave visitors a chance to hold and try out instruments, and contests and prizes for attendees of all ages. The afternoon concluded with a community concert.

“The idea is to play good music, and to do that, you need healthy lungs,” Waxman said.

The BWH Lung Center, Center for Pulmonary Heart Disease and JazzBoston have begun organizing additional community-based health and wellness fairs in Boston that integrate education and music to help raise awareness of the importance of taking care of one’s lungs and teach participants techniques for strengthening their lungs, whether they have a respiratory disorder or not.

Master teachers and performers identified by JazzBoston will also work with Lung Center physicians to develop new therapies that accelerate the rehabilitation process for patients who have chronic lung disease or are recovering from chest surgery. The musician/physician team will design and hold clinics that incorporate wind instruments, including the voice, to create a lively, motivational therapy experience.

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