Our Story

Our Story... Cincinnati Music & Wellness Coalition

In 2007, as a senior executive in senior care, Arlene de Silva was researching outcome-based programs for older adults and caregivers. The need for outcome-based programs was a mandate from the U.S. Administration on Aging (Washington, DC), which provides federal funds for services to older adults and caregivers.

As a classically trained pianist, Arlene was naturally drawn to search for music programs. She turned to her good friend Amy Dennison, director of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Preparatory Department. Amy informed Arlene that she’d heard that a neurologist had innovated a music-making program that was evidence-based!

In 2008, Arlene brought together a team consisting of Amy Dennison, Brian Henderson from Henderson Music, Barry Bittman, MD, and Lori Frazer from Yamaha Music & Wellness Institute, Kay Klosterman, director of Colerain Township Senior Center, and Cheryl Ware, director of Over-the-Rhine Senior Center. Thanks to a successful fundraiser, the evidence-based recreational music-making program Clavinova Connection was introduced to members of the two senior centers. The first Clavinova Connection facilitator was Andrew Millar, DME, from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Based on the program’s success, in early 2009, Arlene shared her vision of bringing Clavinova Connection to multiple populations with Barry Bittman, MD, the neurologist, researcher, pioneer in mind-body medicine, and CEO of Yamaha Music & Wellness Institute.

The result was the birth of the Cincinnati Music & Wellness Coalition (CMWC) in April 2009. Thirty members consisting of senior care organizations, hospitals, universities, physicians, musicians, and non-profits came together to promote a culture of wellness through evidence-based recreational music-making.

In June 2009, through the generosity of Remo Belli of Remo, Inc. in Valencia, CA, and Barry Bittman, MD, fifty members of CMWC received HealthRHYTHMS facilitator training at no cost. Clavinova Connection and HealthRHYTHMS were both innovated by Dr. Bittman.

On September 10, 2009, CMWC was incorporated as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization under the name Global Music & Wellness (GMW), with a mission to promote a culture of wellness through evidence-based recreational music-making. On March 19, 2020, GMW changed its name to Cincinnati Music & Wellness Coalition.