BLUES TO TEACH & GIVEBACK
Patti not only can be found performing at a number of charity events throughout Western New York but she has also produced two R&B Shows to support national causes and has developed a musical therapy program.
Nurs' N Blues - Education Program
Patti is the creator of this program whish was developed to help high risk children at drug rehab centers. The program is so impressive that it is funded by the Western New York Blues Foundation and will begin in 2015. The program will provide Blues Music Education for high risk women’s groups in our community by using music in a therapeutic way to capture emotions and vent feelings. These groups will start to heal while learning about Women in Blues History.
Nurse 'n Blues program offers unique approach to dealing with addiction
By Mia Summerson
Feb 25, 2018
SANBORN — At Horizon Village, the blues aren’t just about singing about what’s got you down in life. Instead, the genre is viewed as a vehicle for healing.
For the past two years, the Nurse ‘n Blues program has aimed to help those who are struggling with addiction by encouraging them to explore their emotions through music therapy with a special focus on the blues.
On Friday, the Western New York Blues Society and Music is Art announced their collaboration with the Nurse ‘n Blues program to ensure that it's able to continue providing and growing services for those who need them.
Patti Parks, a nurse, blues musician and founder of Nurse ‘n Blues, said her own son suffered from addiction, and during his battle, she said it was blues music that kept her going. About three years ago, she had the idea to share the sense of comfort she found in blues music with others who were suffering from the effects of addiction.
“We have a more global perspective in what we are doing in the sense that not only are we serving our clients, but now we’re using both therapy for families and clients so they can get to a point of communicating in a very safe manner,” she said. “We have to stay current. We have to be innovative in the ways that we deal with chemical dependency.”
The Nurse ‘n Blues program works with certified music therapist Sheila Connors, who uses various techniques to help Horizon residents work on self-esteem issues, coping skills and relationships through songwriting, lyric analysis, rhythm circles and more. To date, she has worked with over 600 clients through the program.
She says even those who come in with no taste for blues music often open up to it and find themselves enjoying the therapy sessions. The program has been nationally recognized by the Blues Foundation in Memphis, Tenn.
But Connors is not just a music therapist, she’s a recovering alcoholic who will celebrate 12 years of sobriety next month. She said having fought her own battle with addiction helps her to see the problems her clients are facing through an empathetic lens and that blues, which is often about overcoming adversity, speaks to those who are in tough situations.
“I always tell these clients ‘I’ve walked this path, I know it’s a beast,’” she said. “So because of my passion for music and blues music, and because of that, me myself being an addict, I hope I can bring something to the table.”
Horizon Health Services President and CEO Anne Constantino said the program has been successful at its Delta Village campus in Sanborn, a 100-bed treatment facility for young adults where staff gathered with representatives from Nurse ‘n Blues, Music is Art and the WNY Blues Society to announce their collaboration. She said the Nurse ‘n Blues program has had a positive impact on Delta residents.
Program participant Cory McMillan says it's beneficial for those who are more comfortable expressing themselves through music than in a traditional group therapy setting. They participate in group song sessions, get blues history lessons and discuss what emotional themes in blues music are relatable to the things they are dealing with in their own lives.
“I think it’s just an awesome program,” McMillan said. “I think people get scared of the whole group mentality of therapy sessions and stuff like that. But with the blues and music therapy it’s just kind of a nice release for everybody.”
Robby Takac, founder and president of Music is Art and a founding member of the Goo Goo Dolls, made an appearance at Friday’s announcement, where he said his organization is excited to be getting involved with Nurse ‘n Blues. “To bring music into the forefront of our community” is the mission of Music is Art, he said, and Nurse 'n Blues illustrates just how important music can be.
South Park High School – Music & Arts Fundraiser
Patti’s fundraising efforts will continue for her alma mater.
Association for the Blind,. Hope Foundation, Hats off to Our Veterans and Center for Crisis Services