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Can music be healing?

| Wellness | Mental Health | Healthy You | Aging Well

John Roth, PA-C, stands ready with his music library and DJ equipment

As a physician assistant and professional DJ, John Roth says unequivocally "yes."

John Roth, PA-C, has an interesting take on music and healing.

He is both a certified pediatric physician assistant with PeaceHealth Medical Group in Eugene, Ore., and a professional DJ. He has been a physician assistant since 2008 and a DJ for more than 20 years.

“I absolutely believe in the healing power of music,” John shares, adding that he has witnessed the phenomenon in his own life, as well as in the lives of others.

One particular incident stands out for him. While training to be a physician assistant at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, John cared for an older woman who suffered from depression after losing her husband. She refused to eat, and the providers caring for her were growing increasingly frustrated and worried.John Roth is a provider assistant and professional DJ

In speaking with the woman, John asked whether she and her husband had enjoyed any certain music together. She had, and John persuaded her to find the music and listen to it every day. Within two weeks, her outlook on life had completely changed. She was much more positive and upbeat. She even started to eat.

“She thanked me for nudging her to start listening to music again, which had been an important part of her life,” John says, “I believe it helped her through the grieving process and it absolutely helped her heal. Music is life-changing.”

Music certainly changed John’s life.

He had always had a passion for music, which led to his interest in being a DJ, but he felt too shy to perform in front of people. That began to change when he traveled to Panama as an international exchange student in high school.

“It opened my eyes and exposed me to a world and culture that made me come alive and burst out of my shell,” he recalls.

After earning bachelor’s degrees in Public Health and International Studies, with a minor in Spanish, at Oregon State University, John traveled for several years in Central America working on humanitarian projects and volunteering as a Spanish medical translator. He returned to the U.S. to pursue his career in medicine. 

John named his DJ business DJ Libertad, which means freedom in Spanish.

“For me, music is freedom,” John says. “I believe music has the amazing ability to carry you through the highs and lows of life. I feel privileged to be able to share that energy and passion through the art of DJing.”

During the pandemic, John has been digging through his music library and re-discovering music that inspires him. He says certain artists, such as Michael Franti, stand out because of their positive outlook on life.

To help bridge the distance between loved ones and makes us feel not so alone in the pandemic, John handpicked a few inspiring songs and videos that can be shared with the whole family and friends of any age:

“I’m drawn to music that knows no boundaries and unites people around the world regardless of their differences,” John says. “We are truly ‘all in this together’ and through all the tragedy it is important to keep sight of the positive things in life and not take them for granted. I believe we all need to ‘be the change we wish to see in the world.’”