Immaculata Magazine Summer 2014 - page 41

Joe Reilly ’95 M.A.
When people see “Tune Up Network” on the side of Joe Reilly’s van,
they often ask, “Do you tune pianos?” He says, “No, I tune human beings!”
Reilly, a board-certified music therapist, has used music as medicine
with developmentally disabled people, psychiatric patients and, more
recently, people with physiological conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
As the clinical director of Tune Up Network, he employs six Immaculata
music therapy graduates, who often work with art and dance therapists to
serve clients at various behavioral health organizations.
One of these organizations is the Cardinal Krol Center, an intermediate
care facility for about 100 men with mental retardation. Although it’s
funded by the state, “it’s like a monastery,” Reilly said—it was founded by
priests, with Mass available every day.
When he began working at the center 35 years ago, Reilly established
the Wise Guys, a group of residents who come together to sing. The music is
part of their therapy, but the benefits don’t stop there. Reilly takes the group
on tour and has witnessed over and over their “powerful, positive effect on
any audience.”
They don’t necessarily stay on pitch or sing the lyrics clearly. “This is
not the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It’s more like a spiritual energy” that the
group has, Reilly says. The idea behind the group’s name is that “these are
the ones who have wisdom.” They have a rare purity, simplicity, and joy that
moves their listeners.
“They’ve certainly influenced me,” Reilly said. “When I first began
my work in 1979 at the Cardinal Krol Center, I really believed that I was
helping these poor, underprivileged young men. They were disabled, and
I was the healthy one. But then [I did] that for about 10 years, and then I
started to think, you know, these guys are a lot like me. I started to see less
and less difference. Then [I did] another 10, 15 years, about now, and [I]
start to think, ‘When I grow up, I want to be like these guys!’”
Reilly points to a kind of social intelligence that these men have. He
once took the group to perform at a Special Olympics competition, and they
stopped at a McDonald’s. The atmosphere was immediately filled with the
men’s friendliness: “Hey, how you doing?” “What’s up?” and even “I love
you!” to total strangers waiting for their burgers and fries. “It’s so disarming
at a social level,” Reilly said. There’s an unexpected brilliance in such freely
offered love.
“The original definition of intelligence used to be knowledge of God,”
Reilly continued. “Somewhere along the line, it became, you’re smart in
math, or you’re smart in science. But the real intelligence is much deeper
than that. These guys are in touch with that … Sometimes I think that the
Wise Guys are the music therapists, and I’m just the back-up guy on guitar!
… I have the privilege of unleashing them on the unsuspecting people who
are their next audience.”
After one of the Wise Guys’ concerts
received TV coverage, Reilly got a call
from Sister Jean Anthony, IHM. She
informed him that he was doing music
therapy, a new field at the time, and
she needed a clinical site where she
could send undergraduates from the
new program she had recently started
at Immaculata. If he would help train
her students, she would pay him with a
drum. Reilly now has three.
When Sister Jean added a graduate
program, Reilly decided to earn his master’s. After earning that
additional credential in 1995, “Jean got me a teaching job at
Immaculata, which was just the coolest thing that I could imagine,
to teach on ‘the Holy Hill.’”
Reilly and Sister Jean attended and presented at several music
therapy conferences together, including one in Japan. “She was
linking Eastern and Western medical traditions,” Reilly said, and
her theories weren’t always readily accepted in the U.S. “Everybody
loved her, but they had no idea what was going on between her
ears!” Reilly said, singing the first line of “How do you solve a
problem like Maria?”
But at the conference in Japan, the Asian medical and music
therapy communities understood her ideas, which were based on
a belief in the body’s energy centers and on a more holistic view of
the person as physical, emotional, and spiritual. Though somewhat
skeptical at first, Reilly intuitively believed what she was saying,
and he presented clinical case studies at the Japan conference to
illustrate her theories.
“Sister Jean once told me that, in the future, all the physicians
would be the musicians, and that sound and light would be the
medicines. And of course, I thought she was a nut!” he said. “But
the field of music therapy has begun to cross over into physical
healing, just as she predicted.”
Reilly has been exploring this cross-over in the area of
cymatics, the use of vibrations that are directed at various energy
centers in the body for healing. A device sends the sound of a
healthy part of the body, a kidney for example, to the unhealthy
kidney, with the expectation that the body will “tune” itself to
match the healthy sound.
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