An 8-string guitarist with a repertoire ranging from Bach to the Beatles, Andrew Schulman has been a professional musician based in New York City since 1975. He is a soloist and founder of the Abaca String Band, a string quintet.
He was the resident musician in the Surgical ICU at Beth Israel Medical Center from 2010-16, then played in the Surgical, Medical, and Neurosurgical ICUs at NYU Langone Medical Center in 2017.
In January 2016 he began a monthly residency at Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, MA - the first hospital to accept the use of the title, Medical Musician. In August 2017 he received the first certification for Medical Musician, from Dr. Mark Pettus, BMC Medical Education Director and Associate Dean at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and in September 2017 was accepted as the first Certified Medical Musician to become a member of the Society of Critical Care Medicine.
Andrew and his wife Wendy Sayvetz are the subjects of the documentary film Andrew & Wendy (2014) which has been presented at international film festivals and aired multiple times on PBS-TV. He is the author of Waking The Spirit: A Musician’s Journey Healing Body, Mind, and Soul (Macmillan:Picador, 2016). He and Wendy live in New York City with Phoebe, their Yellow Lab.
Suzanne comes to MMI through the influence of her late husband, Robert Crim, a classical guitarist and lutenist who was a dear friend of Andrew Schulman.
Reading Andrew’s journal, and then his book, about his work as a musician in the Beth Israel Medical Center Surgical ICU convinced her that music in critical care medicine was of great value to the well being of patients, family members, and the medical staff.
A lawyer by training, she retired from the Federal government after 30 years with the Environmental Protection Agency, helping to protect our nation’s waters, including wetlands, coastal waters, and oceans. While working she volunteered as a literacy tutor and a mentor for junior staff.
After retirement, Suzanne joined the Board of, and volunteers with, the Sarcoma Alliance, sarcomaalliance.org. She is also a member of a local charitable organization that supports local schools, students, food banks, and other causes. Through this organization Suzanne assists a kindergarten class with reading under a program she co-directs. In her spare time she enjoys going to concerts, spending time with family and friends, and hanging out on the Delaware coast with her German Shepherd Dog, Leica.
Guitarist Eric Despard became interested in the power of music in medicine when he was able to help family and friends get through serious illness with music. He received his medical musician training from MMI founders, Dr. Marvin McMillen and Andrew Schulman. Eric received certification for attending a 50-hour “Medicine for Musicians” workshop at BMC July 2017 and then began working as a Medical Musician intern at BMC.
Despard is the Executive Director of the Laumeister Art Center in Vermont. He is also Assistant Professor of Humanities and the Music and Art Director at Southern Vermont College in Bennington, Vermont where he recently developed a Bachelor of Arts Major in Arts Administration.
A concert classical and jazz guitarist as well as composer, Eric performs regularly throughout the U.S. as a soloist and with his new music group, the Progression Ensemble. He holds a graduate degree from the Yale School of Music and an undergraduate degree from the Hartt School at the University of Hartford.
He lives in southern Vermont with his wife Michelle and son Liam.
Michael Bard, guitarist and pianist, is an active musician, composer, and teacher who resides near Washington, D.C. He has performed as a soloist and with various music ensembles throughout the United States, Europe, Japan, North Africa, South America, Central America and the Middle East. He has also been featured on various radio and television programs around the world.
As a performer, Michael was chosen by the U.S. State Department to concertize throughout the Mideast and the kingdom of Morocco with fellow guitarist Corey Whitehead, serving as cultural ambassadors offering diplomacy through music.
Michael currently performs and records with Washington D.C. based Latin Rumba-Flamenco group, Trio Caliente, along with his wife, singer Deborah Benner, and guitarist Amilcar Cruz. They have released 3 albums, performed nationally, and have been featured on NBC’s hit TV show “Smash” as well as E! Entertainment Television Network.
Michael Bard joined the medical team as a Medical Musician in the Pain and Palliative Care Unit at the NIH’s Mark O. Hatfield Research Center in June 2018 and is an adjunct faculty for the MMI Medical Musician workshops.
Deborah Benner is a mezzo-soprano soloist, jazz recording artist, actress, and vocal educator. She has toured Europe as a classical soloist and serves as soloist at Washington D.C.’s historic All-Souls’ Church as well as appearing regularly as a soloist for special events at the National Cathedral. She, with husband Michael Bard, has toured in South America for the U.S. Department of State.
As a jazz vocalist, Deborah has sung at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and at the Inaugural Balls of Presidents Obama, Bush, and Clinton. She is also a songwriter; in 1997 she won Billboard Magazine’s Songwriter’s Competition for Best Original Vocal Composition.
A successful actress, Deborah Benner has appeared in a repeat role in the critically acclaimed Netflix series House of Cards. On stage, Benner starred in the Off-Broadway production of Noel Coward’s, The Vortex, and in the musical Ruthless at Washington D.C.’s Source Theatre. Deborah has won many awards, including the prestigious Peabody Award for excellence in broadcasting.
Deborah is a member of Actors’ Equity and the Screen Actors Guild. She resides in Washington D.C. and New York City with her husband and fellow MMI Board member, Michael Bard. Along with guitarist, Amilcar Cruz, they perform internationally as the Latin band, Trio Caliente.
Jenzi Silverman believes passionately in music's healing power. Since 2009, she has taught courses on music, the brain, and wellness, for the University of Minnesota Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and other programs in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. She has given presentations on this topic for groups ranging from public school students to Grand Rounds at the University of Minnesota Department of Neurology.
A musician since age 9, since 2005 she has used her musical skills to help others, playing in senior residences and care centers, and at Park Nicollet-Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, MN. Her primary instrument in these settings is the tenor recorder. Her repertoire includes everything from Renaissance dances to rock and roll. Jenzi also plays concert (alto) ukulele.
Jenzi holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Minnesota and an Associate Diploma in Recorder from Trinity College - London's international exam program. She is currently a student in the University of Minnesota Bakken Center for Spirituality and Healing certificate program in Integrative Therapies and Healing Practices. Upon completing this, she will teach a course for the Bakken Center on music and healing.
Jenzi and her husband Greg enjoy life in St. Louis Park, Minnesota with their dogs: Pickles, a Red Heeler, and Guido, a Shih Tzu.