It is rare that I share ultra-personal information when it comes to running our organization, but I have just been reflecting upon something very important and dear to my heart. I can't help but think that my late father, Dan Schram - a professional pianist, vocalist, and guitarist - is somehow watching over IoH with a proud heart. I don't say this merely because he is a doting dad. It goes much deeper than that. It is because he has seen life from the perspective of some of our program participants. He was a peer.
In 1969, when my dad was 19 years old, he was hospitalized for two and a half years at a state psychiatric hospital in New York. He had experienced a drug-induced psychosis from a bad LSD trip and was displaying violent behavior. I can picture him there, without the things he loved and valued. He was a musician at heart and was probably lost without his instruments and music.
I feel like my dad would have such an appreciation for the amazing gift we bring people when we bring our instruments and music into state hospitals and other facilities. If IoH had the luxury of going back in time to 1969 and could bring our instruments - especially our guitars and keyboards - into the hospital in New York where my dad was, I know he would have absolutely lit that place up! He would have played for all the other patients, and had everyone singing along with him. The musical experience would have brought HIM so much wellness, joy, and self-confidence. The patients and staff would have had a different perception of him as being a huge talent, instead of a quirky patient who liked to roam the halls barefoot. The whole experience would have brought a lot of happiness and healing into the facility. It is amazing how one positive musical experience can transform the people it affects in so many ways!
I think somewhere out there, my dad knows that every person IoH helps could have just as easily been him. And he is proud that we are helping them in their recovery through the use of music. I picture that young, scared 19 year-old dad, hospitalized - but full of potential. He ended up being more than his illness, making a successful recovery, and using music as a wellness tool - to a point that it eventually became his career. While I don't expect most of our participants to become professional musicians, I would love them to follow in my dad's great legacy, and learn to use music as a wellness tool in order to help them be successful in their recovery.
Wherever he may be, I'd like to thank my dad for passing on his gift and love of music - for being a shining example of a successful person in recovery - for his support and love, now and always - and for watching over IoH with a proud heart. As IoH continues to carry out our mission of using music to motivate peers in their recovery, may you and your story ever inspire us to "make each day count", because the people we serve are "worth it"!
Dan Schram ~ pianist, vocalist, guitarist ~ June 27,1946 - March 26,1999