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Waking the Spirit: A Musician's Journey Healing Body, Mind, and Soul

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  196 ratings  ·  43 reviews
For millennia, music has been known to have a powerful role in the healing process. This moving and inspiring book tells the tale of a man pulled from the brink of death by music who, in turn, uses music as medicine to help heal others.

Andrew Schulman, a fifty-seven-year-old professional guitarist, had a close brush with death on the night of July 16, 2009. Against the od
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published August 2nd 2016 by Picador (first published February 2nd 2016)
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Heidi The Reader
Jun 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Waking the Spirit is an educational and uplifting look at music therapy from a world class musician who, not only plays for a critical care unit at a hospital, but was also saved by music himself.

I've always known about the healing power of music for the spirit, but I didn't realize that it had such marked effects on the body itself. When I'm having a bad day or just need to relax, I plop down in front of the piano and play the stress out.

What I did not know, and that Andrew discusses at length
Michele Wucker
Sep 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing

Once I started reading this fantastic book, it took just a few evenings to devour, and it would have been fewer if I hadn't been so strict about bedtime ;) . What a lovely mix of powerful memoir, compassionate portraits of patients helped by music (including some stunning coincidences or not so coincidental depending on what you believe), and scientific insights about the connection between music and healing. The book starts with his wife, Wendy, desperately seeking any thread of hope as h
Jenzi Silverman
Dec 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Best book I've read in 2016, best book out there about what incredible power music has to heal! I still can't find enough superlatives to describe what a beautiful transcendent narrative it is. I built part of a course I taught around it, and if you want a preview of the book, here is the first of two blog posts I just wrote:… Do please check it out -- you'll be glad! Happy Holidays to all! ...more
May 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, 2016
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

In "Waking the Spirit", Andrew Schulman traces his odyssey through recovering from surgery with music helping him and subsequently coming back to play guitar for other patients in the SICU. This book deals with some scientific/medical terms, but a lot of it is anecdotal, talking about pieces he has played for patients, their reactions and responses, and how it is healing for the listener as well as the performer.

This book touche
Dr. Peter Argondizza
Aug 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Waking the Spirit: A Musician's Journey Healing Body, Mind, and Soul is an amazing story of a professional musician who, after experiencing a near-death experience, literally returns 'to life' and playing music by the healing power of music. Moved by this transformative experience, the author tells how he was compelled to return later to ICU to heal others through performing live music at patients' bedsides. Supported by scientific information from experts in neuroscience medicine and references ...more
Nov 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Five stars to Andrew Schulman for so eloquently sharing this inspirational memoire about the miracle of music as a physical and psychological healing force. Each chapter begins with a quote from other studies and practices throughout ancient history and the Middle Ages that indicate the how long music therapy has been practiced to sooth critically ill and injured patients and save lives. Some examples from Jacqueline Schmidt Peters’s Music Therapy: An Introduction: “In many primitive tribal civi ...more
Lynn Pribus
Sep 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Six stars! I read this with special interest since I am a music practitioner (not a music therapist) as a member of the Charlottesville Threshold Singers which sings for hospice patients and others in need of strength, comfort, and peace. I also play guitar with a small group that sings for memory care and nursing facilities.

I have recommended this book to so many friends. Especially fellow musicians.

The author, a professional guitarist for many years, had a catastrophic medical situation landin
Sep 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An amazing story of a man's struggle to heal after being hospitalized and almost dying. How he heals is quite the interesting story,and along the way he finds a way to give back to others who are now in the grave position he once found himself in. Heartwarming, with a dose of reality as to how life can throw us unexpected twists and turns. Sometimes, not the way we think, but sometimes, for the better. I could not put this book down!
Shirley Freeman
Well I'm now convinced of the healing connection between music and the body. Andrew Schulman is a professional guitarist. In 2009, he was a hairsbreadth away from death after a bad reaction to surgery. In a last ditch effort to save him, his wife asked if she could play his ipod for him. First up was Bach's St. Matthew's Passion - a favorite of Andrew's. The music 'brought him back.' In subsequent years, Schulman has given back by playing for patients in the surgery intensive care unit at Beth I ...more
PennsyLady (Bev)
Oct 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Waking the Spirit: A Musician's Journey Healing Body, Mind, and Soul
by Andrew Schulman, Marvin McMillen (Afterword )

I found a perfect summary in the publisher's note below.
"For millennia, music has been known to have a powerful role in the healing process. This moving and inspiring book tells the tale of a man pulled from the brink of death by music who, in turn, uses music as medicine to help heal others."

Our medical musician is Andrew Schulman, a professional guitarist, who has among other ven
Dec 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
You don't have to be a musician to know that music is a powerful force unlike any other. Everyone has those songs associated with powerful memories and those that they turn to for a pick-me-up. Not only does Schulman share his own moving and inspiring story of how music saved his life, he shares powerful stories of music at work in medicine while also enlightening the reader about the latest research in the field. This book also calls for more awareness about the power of music to heal and advoc ...more
Kevin Pryles
Jan 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fascinating book on the universal healing power of music itself. I have always been interested in the concept of using music as a healing power, but have never read such a personal and benevolent account of a man whose love for performance and listening was used for a greater purpose; to heal others. A great quick read for anyone who wishes to learn about the neurological, physiological, and physical effects music can have in an ICU setting for patients whose last grips are held within music its ...more
Nov 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Waking the Spirit is a truly amazing story of a professional musician’s journey to recovery after a near-death experience and the incredible impact that music had on his healing. After fully recovering the author was inspired to dedicate his life to help heal patients in the ICU through live music. I really enjoyed reading all the stories from doctors and patients he met along the way. It’s apparent that music has the power to transform and heal in extraordinary ways.
Kathy Willhite
Aug 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Fascinating personal experience with the importance of music in our lives. Would have liked more frequent discussions of the science and research behind the relationship of the music on the body. Links to recordings of the songs listed during the book would have helped those of us unfamiliar with the music cited.
Oct 12, 2016 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book and felt inspired to return music to my life. It brought a lot of emotion to the surface.
Not a higher rating only because the writing style did not grab me.
Artemisia Hunt
Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Classical guitarist Andrew Schulman's memoir about his experiences sharing his music for the most critical patients in the SICU of a New York hospital is an inspiring read to say the least. Schulman's decision to volunteer to provide musical therapy to these patients came about because of his own brush with death in the same SICU, in which his wife intuitively decided to play a recording of one of his favorite musical pieces as he lay in a coma after a serious medical emergency. Somehow, the pow ...more
Zachary Houle
Jul 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
You’ve probably heard the stories of people being miraculously healed by prayer. You may not have heard stories of people being healed by music. However, Andrew Schulman’s work in the field of music and healing bears out that it is possible. Being healed by music even happened to him: it saved his life! In 2009, Schulman underwent an operation to remove a pancreatic tumor that turned out to be benign. However, he had a reaction to something in his blood transfusion during the surgery and immedia ...more
May 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If I could give a book more than 5 stars, this one would be it. It's not that the author is an extremely talented writer (he just told his own true story), but Andrew Schulman is a talented musician and his story of music and healing is incredible! "For millennia, music has been known to have a powerful role in the healing process. This moving and inspiring book tells the tale of a man pulled from the brink of death by music and who, in turn, uses music as medicine to help heal others." This boo ...more
Apr 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I received a free copy of Waking the Spirit via a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you, Goodreads! Waking the Spirit is a fantastic read. Andrew Schulman weaves his personal experiences as both patient and healer seamlessly, taking the reader through an in-depth analysis of the powerful, ancient connection between music and medicine. He offers personal anecdotes alongside medical knowledge and psychology research without coming off as preachy, biased, or new age. The insight is specific without too muc ...more
Jul 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: musical-stuffs
As a practicing musician, I found the concept of this book intriguing - every musician has felt the therapeutic effects of music at some point. It’s admirable that Schulman wanted to share his talent with others who were suffering, but the tale was a bit bland. Parts of the book tried to offer technical explanations of how the brain works and why music is soothing, while other parts were over-simplified. And if I read the words St. Matthew Passion one more time, I might’ve hurled the book across ...more
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I would give, Walking the Spirit, 6 or more stars if possible!
The Story of Andrew Schulman's illness, his recovery, and healing through music was nothing short of a miracle. His personal story, plus the stories of the many people he met and helped over the past decade is simply awe-inspiring! It gets technical in places, but necessary to explain the connection between the brain, spirit, and music.
This book touched me deeply and it is a story that I will carry with me and share with others.
Jacob Petrossian
Oct 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Waking the Spirit told me about the importance of having a healing environment when healing needs to take place. Andrew Schulman talks about the general nature of hospitals as not being adequate facilities of proper healing and how music can play a big part to remedy that. There are really some inspiring stories throughout the book but overall I felt that I became less engaged as the whole book is centred around the Mount Sinai Beth Israel's ICU facility.

I would recommend this book for musician
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
This was entertaining and intriguing read -- full of anecdotes but also historical and research-based findings about the connections between mind, body and music. Among the things I had never heard of were ICU delirium (p. 139, scary!), the effect of Schubert's Ständchen on all kinds of people, and Bohemian Rhapsody, too! I need to check out Berstein's 1962 version of St. Matthew Passion after reading this book. Get your iPods ready in case you are ever in critical condition!
Jun 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-help
Very interesting and passionate account of the effect of music in all aspects of our being, stemming from the personal experiences of a classical guitar player.

Although I have virtually nothing in common with the author, since I am not a musician and not very musical at all, his message literally resonated with me and made for me a really good case for taking music more seriously. At least as serious as dedicating to it more time, more learning and, in sum, more listening.
Nov 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music, 2017
I really enjoyed this book. It's an easy read that has made me decide to add an addendum to my health directive to include music in my medical treatment, should I become unable to speak for myself. With suggestions for music to play, especially Bach. I might even do what one person in the book did and create a special iPod for the purpose.
Jul 31, 2018 rated it liked it
A story about the power of music in healing us, told by a musician who barely survived after surgery at Mt. Sinai Beth Israel in NYC. He credited his life to his wife's wisdom to play Bach when he was near death. He dedicated himself to playing for others in that same SICU after his recovery, and has impressive stories to tell.
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I recommend this book to anyone who listens to music. It may open your eyes to some new ways to listen.

Mr. Schulman shares some amazing things about how music affected his life and many others. Well worth the read.

I added these to my playlist :
St. John’s Passion
St. Matthew’s Passion
Brandenburg Concerntos


Joe S.
Sep 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Interesting, inspirational, and informative. My favorite part was googling all of the musical references and listening to songs as he described their impact on patients he played for in the hospital.
Oct 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thanks to Schulman and his persistence in helping so many people. After the author explains his personal experience, the book becomes a bit boring for the first third. But keep reading and learn about the accounts of how musical therapy has revitalized so many.
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As a healthcare professional who is also a audiophile, I use music almost daily in my practice and have my own stories on it's success. I feel this book, with it's strong examples of the healing power of music, interwoven with science to back up those anecdotes, should be required reading for anyone going into or already in healthcare, especially for those working with vulnerable, hurting or critically ill patients.
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