In celebration of World Music Therapy Day
with Ellen Schwartz, Founder of Project Give Back
Our first born son wasn’t able to walk, talk, see or move. We were told he wouldn’t live until the age of five. Jacob couldn’t see, but his view towards life was 20/20. He couldn’t speak, yet he communicated so many powerful messages. He couldn’t move, yet he moved many and touched numerous minds and hearts.
So how did he communicate? Through music. Music spoke directly to Jacob’s soul. As soon as he heard a few notes on the guitar, his eyes lit up, his face brightened and his smile stretched from ear to ear. His love for music attracted many talented musicians, of all ages. They loved to sing for him as his reaction was authentic, pure and filled with joy. For almost 21 years, Sundays were Jake’s Jam days. Our front door would become a revolving door as performers would come over to sing with Jake. Love and connection through music echoed throughout our home. Sometimes we even extended the invitation to friends of Jacob’s, who also responded to music the same way Jacob did.
When Jacob turned twenty, many of us got together to write a song to honour this miraculous milestone. For six Sundays in a row, we created, Jake’s song. When Jacob smiled, we kept writing, when he wasn’t smiling, we changed it up until he smiled again. The lyrics, if Jacob could speak words, these are the words he would say...
Jacob passed away one year later. For a while, the music in our home did too. One Sunday, in February we invited Jacob’s friends back to our living room. It was here when our musical Sunday Jams re launched, we loving called these jams filled with people of all ages and abilities, Jake’s Sunday Jams.
When COVID hit, we brought these Jams on line to include an entirely new community, many of them isolated at home. In an uncertain world, Jake’s Zoom Sunday Jam Concerts were a sure thing. In Jacob’s honour and memory music is front and center, creating harmony of many souls and inviting them all together for an hour filled with love and music. Jake’s Sunday Jams continue most Sundays at 4pm.
Jacob was also the inspiration behind three books, one called ‘Lessons from Jacob’, another called ‘Without One Word Spoken’ and a soon to be published children’s book guiding young ones through grief and loss.
Jacob’s life and lessons also sparked a curriculum in public, private and parochial schools called Project Give Back. This program is a passion based year long project that inspires children to become empathetic, compassionate and community minded young leaders.
Although Jacob’s life ended way to early, his lessons continue to live on in so many of us. We will try to live the way Jacob did by following his simple rules:
To appreciate everything and everyone.
To live in the moment.
To be positive.
To be accepting of others.
I know when I follow Jacob’s lessons, my day is a whole lot brighter.