This still shot, from a 60 Minutes' piece entitled Mr. Lopez Meets Mr. Ayers, depicts Nathaniel Ayers playing a cello for Steve Lopez.  A reader of Lopez' column, which featured stories about Ayers, donated the cello. Image online, via CBS' 60 Minutes.  Copyright, 60 Minutes, all rights reserved.  Image provided here as fair use for educational purposes.


Music tempers schizophrenia, although scientists do not really understand why.  It may have something to do with the ability of people to communicate (without talking) - or - it may have something to do with Immunoglobulin A (IgA) levels and the regulation of neurotransmitters (particularly glutamate and dopamine). 

However it happens, one can examine the story of Nathaniel Ayers to see music-as-soother in action.

As Steve Lopez watches Ayers play, he observes a person trying his best to cast-off the limitations of illness - and succeeding, at least some of the time.  Nathaniel, his new friend,

...tucks the violin under his chin, blocks out the roar of traffic and leaves the known world. He scratches around a bit, chasing after ideas that aren't quite coming together, but then, as always, he finds a passage that works like a drug and the music pushes him free of all distraction. Eyes closed, head tilted to the heavens, he's gone.

The street musician connected with this newspaper columnist - a stranger - through the medium of music.  Lopez, who wasn’t a big fan of classical music before his encounter with Nathaniel, began to appreciate the beauty of works he hadn’t really heard before. 

After Steve helped Nathaniel find a place to store his instruments (and Little Walt Disney Concert Hall), Ayers no longer had to worry about leaving his treasures outside the library.  He was able to borrow sheet music, so he could learn new works and expand his repertoire. 

To understand the type of music Nathaniel loves to hear and play, we can watch video clips of musicians performing some of his favorites:

•    Tchaikovsky's Variationson a Rococo Theme for Cello and Orchestra

•    Tchaikovsky's Variations - ending by Yo-Yo-Ma

•    Sibelius' SymphonyNo.2

•    Ernst Bloch's Prayer, Supplication and Jewish Song

•    Dvorak's Cello Concerto

•    Bach’s Cello SuiteNo. 1 in G Major - Prelude

•    Schubert's"Arpeggione"Sonata

•   Pablo Casals'"Song of the Birds"

These musical examples calm Nathaniel and help him to focus.  And ... thanks to the LA Times, and CBS’ Sixty Minutes, we can actually watch him play some of the works himself.


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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Apr 01, 2009

Updated Last Revision: Jul 13, 2019

To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"MUSIC - THE GLUE of NATHANIEL'S LIFE" AwesomeStories.com. Apr 01, 2009. Feb 26, 2020.
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