Brad Carlin on Medium | Therapeutic Songwriting for Persons with Dementia (PWDs) and their Family Caregivers (FCGs)

In compositional music therapy, the music therapist (MT) helps the client write songs, lyrics, or instrumental works that lead to a musical product, such as a written copy or recording of the song. The MT often handles the more technical parts of the process, and engages the client at an appropriate level (words, music). Goals of such work often include expressing thoughts and feelings, as well as developing decision-making skills.

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Brad Carlin and Homeward Bound Perform “River”

This song was written and made famous by Leon Bridges, a talented young soul singer from Fort Worth, Texas.  While the song dates to 2015, its original video strongly reflects many themes of the current Black Lives Matter movement, and so was strongly prescient in this sense.  The song’s lyrics describe baptismal and other redemption themes through their religious references and water images.

This socially distanced version was recorded in Fall 2020 by Homeward Bound:

Brad Carlin, tambourine and lead vocal
Josh Carlin, drums
Steve Kumagai, electric guitar and vocals
Heather Succio, organ and vocals
Susan Thompson, acoustic guitar and vocals

Christian Nielsen, recording engineer and video production

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Stuck in the Middle With You (Studio Version)

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been so hard for musicians to get together and play.  However, many bands and other performing groups have gotten by with programs like Acapella, which enable combining multiple video tracks into a single video for online posting.  Such platforms are also great for making demo videos for bands to build upon.

Here is such a video of me performing all the parts on “Stuck in the Middle With You”, by Gerry Rafferty.  The famous line, “clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right” inspired me to “cast” the two backup singers as the Clown and the Joker, respectively.  It was also fun to add a surprise trombone solo at the end as well.

Brad Carlin:  drum programming, piano, organ, trombone, and both lead and backing vocals.

New Original Composition: “Hello!” by Brad Carlin

This is a “hello song” composed for music therapy master’s program at Augsburg University. It’s dedicated to the folks living in the memory care program where my mom used to live, and where I have the privilege of playing once a week (pre-COVID). In the middle of the song, I name each resident and say one thing I love about them. I miss them all so much, and hope this video will give them a smile & let them know I’m still thinking about them.

It’s Been a While, But America Has Seen Pandemics like COVID-19 Before — and it’s Likely We’ll See More of Them

With sweeping travel and social distancing restrictions being placed on cities and communities throughout the world in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, most people are facing a reality not experienced in their lifetimes. However, there is a documented precedent of infectious disease outbreaks like this one in relatively recent history — even here in the United States.

SARS, MERS, Ebola, and the so-called “Spanish Flu” of 1918 are all examples of recent infectious disease outbreaks. Some like Ebola had extremely high mortality rates, initially as high as 40%. Still, of these, only the 1918 Flu led to worldwide quarantines and the closing of public gathering places (sporting events, restaurants and bars, churches, etc.) to the extent that we have seen with COVID-19. Since 1918 predates our ability to treat and vaccinate against viral enemies, many Americans may have assumed such drastic isolation measures (which date at least to the plague epidemics of the 13th and 14th centuries) would never be needed again. Unfortunately, the easy transmittability of this virus combined with its very serious effects on older persons forced public health officials across the globe to resort to these measures, in order to prevent medical care systems from being overwhelmed and a corresponding increase in deaths due to the disease.

COVID-19’s initial mortality rate (as estimated by the WHO) appears to be broadly comparable to that of the 1918 Flu. However, with the current world population roughly 4 times greater than it was in 1918, a even a COVID-19 mortality rate similar to that of the 1918 Flu would mean hundreds of thousands and perhaps even millions of deaths worldwide.

While the reality of COVID-19’s impacts are increasingly grim and tragic, it has also drawn attention to the fact that infectious disease pandemics seem to be happening with both increased frequency and greater geographical spread. Globalization, increasing population density, and global warming are all key factors that may make pandemics like the one we’re facing today more and more likely in years to come. Improving citizen awareness of the importance of both routine (handwashing) and emergency (quarantine) public health measures, as well as a much more nimble response from the world’s governments, will be needed to deal with future such outbreaks in a way that best protects both human life and economic activity.

Climate Change in Minnesota: Minnesota River Expanding, Raising Flooding and Erosion Concerns

By Bradley Carlin

There’s no doubt that climate change is having effects on temperatures and weather patterns globally, but here in Minnesota we’re seeing some pressing environmental concerns that are causing policymakers and local residents to seek immediate efforts to help address the side effects of global warming. 

One such concern is the expansion of the Minnesota River. The river’s width has nearly doubled in some areas since the 1940’s, encroaching on and threatening personal property, roads, and ecosystems. Higher-than-average rainfalls are a large contributing factor to the river’s overflow, with last year being the wettest year on record for Minnesota.  According to a 2017 study by Utah State University, the increase of rainfall and severe storms more generally has caused the river’s flow to double since the 1950’s. This added volume of water has raised concerns of both flooding and erosion along the river bank. For instance, in Mankato, Minnesota, the river has expanded outwards over 50 feet, bringing it just 8 feet away from the well the town uses for drinking water. 

Policy makers and local residents are quickly seeking both temporary and long-term solutions to help relieve the river’s overflow, reduce erosion, and improve water quality. 

It is hoped that these solutions, while currently only treating the symptoms of global warming, will spark more changes aimed at a more holistic approach to addressing climate change. 

You can read a great write-up of some of the more pressing environmental concerns related to the Minnesota River in this recent article in the Minneapolis StarTribune