Music for Healing: Local Doctor Wants to Spread the Healing Power of Music

MOSES LAKE – Larry Birger said he’s experienced the support music can provide in difficult times and wants to pass it on to others. That’s why he founded Learn from the Masters Music Outreach.

“The goal is to share the healing power of music. It’s deliberately vague because there are so many ways it can manifest,” Birger said.

The organization sponsored a concert in Moses Lake on February 12, featuring guitarist Adam Cord and backed by Birger’s band, Some Other People. Birger said he hopes to do more free concerts and offer lessons on the LMMO website to teach people how to play guitar and other instruments.

Birger is a physician, currently employed as a hospitalist at Samaritan Hospital. He was always interested in music but postponed his music studies to pursue his medical studies and then his medical career. Tough times in 2017 sparked his interest, and then he met Cord, a guitarist with the Youngstown (Ohio) Symphony Orchestra and well-known music transcriber.

Birger founded LMMO later that year.

“(Cord) has sparked what I would call a renaissance in my music,” Birger said.

It came at a time when Birger needed it. Music, playing and listening, helped him through difficult times, he said.

“When I talk about the healing power of music, it’s from my own experience,” he said.

His friend, jazz musician William “Tuck” Andress, told Birger that he had people come up after a concert and tell him that the music made them feel better. Sometimes, Andress told Birger, that he wasn’t really happy with his performance, but it still affected the listeners.

Birger said there was a lesson in music and its power. It doesn’t have to be a great performance to have an effect on the people who hear it.

No matter the form, from jazz to rock to classical, music has a lot to say, he says. And in his opinion, the more music, the better.

“The very idea of ​​a stream, or stream, of life, love, beauty and joy, and applying it wherever we can,” he said. “There is a power in it.”

He cited his first encounter with Cord as an example. Birger contacted him looking for transcriptions of guitarist Phil Keaggy’s music. Their conversation went beyond the musical transcription.

“I think we talked for two and a half hours or something like that,” Birger said.

Birger is a guitarist.

“My first love is the finger-style guitar,” he said.

It began to diversify as part of its goal to expand the offerings available on and through LMMO, he said. He worked with Andress and his wife Patricia “Patti” Cathcart Andress, who star as Tuck & Patti. It’s something completely new for a guy who has so far focused on rock.

“I’m intrigued by what you can do on jazz guitar,” Birger said.

But not everyone has the money to take classes or lives in a place where classes are available. Birger said one of the organization’s goals is to provide opportunities for people who have limited access to music education.

“Instructional videos are an example of that,” he said. “There is definitely an educational component.

The videos are accessible on the LMMO website. Birger said he plans to add up to 10 more, focusing on relatively easy-to-find instruments, including keyboard and drums, as well as vocal instruction. The production uses three cameras, so students can see the techniques at all times, he said.

He got the idea while taking classes with Cord and thought about the benefits of teaching those classes to other students.

“Wouldn’t it be nice if we could preserve that?” he remembered thinking.

Birger has other plans for LMMO, both in Moses Lake and Ellensburg. He wants the organization to sponsor more concerts and outreach in schools, visits to long-term care facilities and work with palliative care organizations. The LMMO helped sponsor guitar virtuoso Billy McLaughlin to visit for a woman in hospice, he said.

He also wants to sponsor workshops, paid and free, with some of the artists he has met. He wants to promote music in general, he says, in an effort to get better salaries for musicians.

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