Med center orchestra to serve as creative outlet

by Karen Burbach, UNMC public relations | July 11, 2018

Image with caption: Faculty, staff and students are invited to be part of the med center orchestra. (Photo courtesy the University of Nebraska at Omaha School of Music)

Faculty, staff and students are invited to be part of the med center orchestra. (Photo courtesy the University of Nebraska at Omaha School of Music)

Do you play an orchestral instrument and want a creative outlet? Consider being part of the inaugural campus orchestra that will launch this fall.

Faculty, staff and students are invited to be part of the orchestra -- the brainchild of UNMC's Matt Rizzo, M.D., a cellist who saw a vibrant version of a campus orchestra while at the University of Iowa, and Washington Garcia, D.M.A., concert pianist and director of the UNO School of Music.

"This can provide enormous benefits to institutional culture, morale and mental health, and, you don't have to be Paganini to play," said Dr. Rizzo, chair of the UNMC Department of Neurological Sciences and director of the Mind & Brain Health Initiative. "Music also is highly relevant to our mind and brain health and community engagement initiatives."

In partnership with the UNO School of Music, the orchestra will play under the baton of Matthew Brooks, D.M.A., director of orchestras at UNO. Players of all orchestral instruments (woodwinds, strings, percussion and brass) are needed. All are welcome to play with no audition required.

"Anything we do that enriches our exposure to the humanities will have a positive impact on all of us . . . not to mention increase the fun quotient on campus," said Steven Wengel, M.D., assistant vice chancellor for campus wellness for UNO and UNMC.

Studies show that rates of burnout, depression, anxiety, and stress are higher in health care workers than in other professions. What is not as well researched, Dr. Wengel said, is what should be done to improve the situation. There are three pillars on which to base wellness activities in health care, he said: improving the efficiency of the practice environment, enhancing individual resilience, and providing a culture of wellness.

"This last strategy is really important and exposure to the humanities plays a significant part," Dr. Wengel said. "We know, for example, that medical students who are exposed to the humanities during medical school demonstrate higher scores on measures of empathy, wisdom, tolerance for ambiguity, and even spatial skills."

Organizers hope to begin rehearsals in late August with practices one evening a week (time and location to be announced). The orchestra will perform each fall and spring.

"We know this partnership between the medical community and the UNO School of Music will improve the mental health of faculty, staff and students, reduce burnout and enhance community outreach," Dr. Garcia said.

Interested in joining? Complete a brief online form today to be contacted with more information.

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Edwin V. lyons
July 11, 2018 at 8:26 AM

What a wonderful opportunity! Very cool!