The Blues Angel Music Foundation aims to make a positive impact on the Greater Pensacola area through the promotion of music education, instruction and therapy throughout the lifespan of every individual it touches.
For youth, this includes donating instruments to schools and underserved children, starting ukulele programs in elementary schools and providing scholarships for students who would not otherwise be able to afford music lessons.
In the senior population, the foundation works with Alzheimer’s and dementia care facilities to use music for memory care through the Bring Back the Rhythm program which puts personalized music playlists from a person’s younger days on MP3 players. The foundation also starts music programs in senior facilities allowing people to learn to play an instrument or sing.
“Music has been used as a therapeutic since just after the Second World War,” said Nan DeStafney, a retired Navy Nurse, and Blues Angel Music Foundation founder. “Doctors and nurses saw firsthand the positive benefits music had in helping soldiers returning from war cope with trauma and pain. The impact of music on our emotions is profound. It possesses the capacity to elicit various feelings such as joy, sorrow, vitality, enthusiasm or serenity.
”Research shows that music does have a physical impact, which translates to impacting mood.
“Scientific evidence confirms that music triggers the release of mood-enhancing chemicals in our bodies, two of which are dopamine and endorphins, which benefit patients in medical treatment,” DeStafney said.
According to DeStafney, dopamine acts as a “feel-good” chemical transmitter by increasing pleasure receptors. It is released as a reward for satisfying bodily desires like eating and sleeping and listening to music. Dopamine promotes a positive mood and motivates humans to seek out activities that generate that pleasurable feeling. Endorphins are hormones that induce a happy state of mind and a sense of euphoria. Music also stimulates the release of endorphins – often associated with the “runner’s high” – eliciting feelings of happiness and sometimes serving as effective pain relievers.
“Children who play music perform better on testing, retain information better, have advanced social skills and develop better focus. Seniors can find moments of memory when listening to music from their youth. Think of songs you enjoyed in your teens and twenties, even if you haven’t heard them in decades. If they came on the radio, you’d still remember most of the lyrics and the melody would bring back joy. Music has the power to not only bring people together but heal. Our program’s music sparks joy in myriad and indescribable ways,” DeStafney explained.
Blues Angel Music sponsors a free annual summer concert series called Blues on the Bay to support the foundation’s fundraising efforts and educate attendees about the work of the foundation. Concerts are held on select Sunday afternoons at the Vince J. Whibbs, Sr. Community Maritime Park. Visit the Facebook page for dates and more information. The foundation accepts donations of gently used musical instruments that can be used in school bands or orchestras, accepts monetary donations and seeks event volunteers. Visit their website to learn how to support the foundation and their community projects.
Music isn’t just a good time; music is good for the body and mind.