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The amazing music therapy of Lana Mushtaq and Maysaa Abu Lughod

Jean Claude Elias
Jean-Claude Elias is a computer engineer and a classically trained pianist and guitarist. He has been regularly writing IT articles, reviewing music albums, and covering concerts for more than 30 years.(Photo: Jordan News)
“In a general manner, music has a therapeutic effect on all of us. However, guitarist Lana Mushtaq and oud player Maysaa Abu Lughod have decided to go well beyond the “general manner”. They are taking the healing effect of their art to the next level and are applying it systematically to those who need it most.اضافة اعلان

(Photo: Handout from  Jean-Claude Elias, Jordan News)

Over planned sessions where they bring the beautiful sound of their instruments and their voices, the two musicians play for people of all walks of life and all ages, but primarily for the elderly. In the case of those who have, for instance, dementia or Alzheimer, or simply are old and lonely and need to be comforted, the two ladies gladly come to them, to play and sing. In the overwhelming number of cases, the result is infinitely better than medicine and, understandably, without the negative side effects associated with drugs.

Speaking to Jordan News over a friendly interview, Abu Lughod stressed that “we are doing all this with love, with passion. We do not think of the people we sing for as patients or clients, but as friends”.

Mushtaq added: “The music itself is extremely important, of course, but in the end, it is but the channel we use to convey our friendship, our love, our empathy, and our sympathy to those for whom we perform and entertain.”

Indeed, watching the two musicians sing for a couple of elderly persons last December in Amman I could see how much their personal attitude makes a difference. The smiles, the presence, the warm eye contact while playing, and the very reassuring way they talk to their listeners and chat with them between songs and establish amazing communication are all the “active ingredients”, to put it in medical terms.

Often, their listeners discover how much they love the music they are offered to hear through the performance of Abu Lughod and Mushtaq, and spontaneously show their wish to participate, by singing along, humming or even dancing.

The musicians told Jordan News how happy and rewarded they are when such interaction happens.

Mushtaq said: “In several cases we have been asked to come and perform regularly for the same person or group twice or three times a week.”

The artists also recount a very emotional experience, of an old lady who had been virtually silent for a couple of years because of psychological stress, but who started pronouncing a few words after listening to the two musicians and, more significantly, upon interacting with them.

Abu Lughod is Jordanian, and in addition to having a degree in music therapy from the National Music Conservatory, is also a renowned optician. Mushtaq, French-Iraqi, is a professional musician who has been living in Jordan for several years. They teamed up in 2020. They mainly sing in Arabic, English and French, but they also do “a few Italian songs, one in Portuguese, a few in Spanish, one Armenian song…”, as explained by Mushtaq.

The wide repertoire they have put together is itself an illustration of the extensive range they cover and the incredible positive impact they have on their “friends”, thanks to such diversity of styles. It goes from legendary Egyptian Mohammad Abdel Wahab to current Abu (you cannot ignore “3 Daqaat”…), young French pop idol Zaz, and a few others in between!

Some interesting examples, taken from the catalogs of the various artists that inspire them and they like to interpret.

From the old guard, Ya Ward Meen Yashtareek by Mohammad Abdel Wahab; El Hayat Helwa, Ma Qalli We Qeltello and Ya Gameel by Farid El Atrash; Ya Lalalli by Mohamed Mounir; Awel Marra and Saafini Marra by Abdel Haleem Hafez; Hayyart Qalbi Maak, Enta Omry and Ghanneeli Shway by Um Kulthum; Til’at Ya Mahla Nourha and El Helwa Di by Sayed Darwish; In Raah Minka Yaa Ain by Shadia; and Foq Ilna Khel, an Iraqi traditional folk song.

Closer to us, and perhaps on a lighter side, Al Bint Al Shalabiya by Fairuz; Histoire d’un Amour by Dalida; Sway by Dean Martin; Une Maman by Luigi; La Bohème by Charles Aznavour; La Vie en Rose by Edith Piaf; 3 Daqaat by Abu; Je Veux by Zaz.

Simply put, Abu Lughod and Mushtaq transcend the meaning of music therapy.

The Writer is a computer engineer and a classically trained pianist and guitarist. He has been regularly writing IT articles, reviewing music albums, and covering concerts for more than 30 years.

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