If you haven’t seen the film or read the book called The Soloist, you owe it to yourself to check it out.

You don’t have to love classical music to appreciate this story. In fact, if your exposure to classical music has been minimal, this may give you an appreciation of it.

The Soloist - Nathaniel AyersSteve Lopez, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, happened to run into a gifted musician, Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, on the streets of downtown Los Angeles. Ayres, a Julliard-trained bassist, was homeless at the time and suffered from schizophrenia. Lopez was intrigued enough by Ayres to write about him. That story has much to do with how music is deeply integrated into our being – and how going to that place where the music lives and breathes within us can revive us and give us a whole new perspective on life.

The film based on the book was released in 2009 and starred Robert Downey, Jr. as Lopez and Jamie Foxx as Ayers. The story is really universal in nature so the fact that it deals with a classical musician shouldn’t deter anyone from being able to relate to it.

In fact, many musicians associated with popular music have been influenced by classical music. John Coltrane was known to practice his sax using a classical violin study book; Steve Clark, guitarist for the rock band Def Lepard, was classically trained; Eddie Van Halen and Randy Rhodes were just two of many heavy-metal guitarists whose interest in and study of classical music theory greatly expanded their technique and their understanding of how music is created.

Robert Gupta, a violinist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, met Ayres in 2008 and Ayres expressed an interest in taking a violin lesson from Gupta. Gupta’s impressions of his experience can help us to expand our understanding of how deeply music can affect and even change our lives.


The Soloist: Music As Medicine
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