by Meet Kevin Higgins, Missionary for Music.
Kevin Higgins lost his left leg in a motorcycle accident 19 years ago. The horrific phantom pain from nerve damage caused by the traumatic amputation caused a downward spiral to a life filled with pain medication and failed relationships. Until the day Kevin walked into a Yamaha music store and played one of the few songs he remembered from childhood piano lessons, “Open Arms”, by Journey. Kevin realized that while playing the piano his pain went away.
He returned to the music store day after day for relief from his excruciating pain. When Kevin’s mom shipped his old piano 300 miles to his home, Kevin’s life turned around forever. Music saved Kevin’s life. Kevin is now a self-proclaimed “Missionary for Music” and brings the message of the healing power of music to those suffering from chronic pain and mental illness.
Kevin is the Music and Wellness Director at Alamo Music Center in San Antonio, Texas, where he shares the powerful ability of recreational music making (RMM) to lessen or overcome chronic pain and suffering. Kevin works with many individuals and organizations, including the Wounded Warriors, people with Parkinson’s Disease, and the Battered Women’s shelters, as well as relating his story of music and wellness to students and teachers.
Kevin is an advocate of and heavily involved with the Yamaha Music and Wellness Institute (YMWI), a nonprofit organization that promotes the scientifically proven health benefits of enjoyable and creative music making. Kevin has worked with Barry Bittman, M.D., CEO and President of YWMI, a neurologist and leader of the Mind-Body Wellness Center in Meadville PA. Dr. Bittman is also a well-known author and international speaker, and has written several authoritative research publications that have advanced the study of recreational music making in the field of psychoneuroimmunology. More information on the ground breaking work of the YMWI can be found on their website, http://www.yamahainstitute.org.
Recently, I had the great pleasure of speaking with Kevin Higgins about his life work. I found a man dedicated to helping those suffering from the stress of chronic pain using the power of making music. As Kevin explained, there is scientific evidence that hereditary diseases have a genetic marker that can be turned on or off by social and environmental factors. The active playing of recreational music has been proven to be one of these factors.
A person does not have to be a great musician to benefit from the positive outcome of music playing, you just need to find joy in the playing. Many times playing in a group environment is the optimum choice. This is powerful information and is the basis for Kevin’s mission as well as many others who have dedicated their lives to the power of music to positively affect people on an emotional, mental, physical and spiritual level.
Kevin was once a man who was in so much pain that at one point he wondered if, as he states, “God hated him”? He felt that he was a burden to family and friends and had nothing to contribute to society. Today, Kevin has no pain and is making joyful music while spreading this message of hope and “salvation” to others who are suffering. Kevin has received the Jefferson Award for Public Service as well as the Hidden Hero Award presented by the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, for his work in helping others through music.
He has spoken at numerous schools and has presented his life changing story to the physicians of the Bexar County Medical Society. Kevin is an active fundraiser and is helping set up music and wellness programs in his community and others. He mentors the wellness programs for a year or two to get them off the ground and then moves on to the next one. Kevin is changing the world one person at a time. And that is music to my soul.