Arts & Neuroscience

Military and Veterans Affairs

Lifestyle Medicine


SongwritingWith:Soldiers - The Effects of Collaborative Songwriting on Veterans Suffering from TBI and PTSD (422326)

Monday, October 1
4:45 PM - 6:00 PM
Location: Madrid

What happens when reluctant Veterans who have endured combat and stress are asked to co-write songs with a professional songwriter? “Something shifts,” they say. “I can finally put my pack down.” Not only do they immediately have a song of their own to listen to and share, they become eager for more positive change. Symposia Attendees will get a glimpse inside a retreat with program specifics from Co-Founder, Mary Judd; songwriting session stories, a performance and group writing demonstration from Co-Founder, Darden Smith; firsthand accounts from a veteran; outcomes to date, and research in progress.

Learning Objectives:

Mary Judd

Co-Founder / Program Director

Mary is a master at creating collaborative programs that inspire connections and highlight individual and community strengths. When witnessing Darden Smith write a song with a veteran, she was compelled to put her skills to work in creating the SongwritingWith:Soldiers program.
With vast experience in Positive Psychology Coaching, educational programming and organizational communications, Mary helps SW:S create the most effective and meaningful experiences for everyone involved. Her creative reach is reflected in her client list which includes New York State Department of Economic Development (I LOVE NY); MentorCoach training programs; VIA Institute on Character; Indian Ladder Farms: The Mayerson Academy, The HAPPY Movie; Discovery Retreats, and more. She has studied Positive Psychology with leading researchers from around the world, is an international workshop presenter on the subject and was a discussion facilitator at a United Nations meeting on Happiness and Well-Being. She serves on the editorial board for the India Journal of Positive Psychology and PsyInsight magazine. Mary co-founded The Barn School, an award-winning sustainable agriculture camp that raises funds for family farms and Heifer International®. She earned coaching certifications from Dr. Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania, MentorCoach and others. She has a B.S. in Organizational Communications from the University of Texas at Austin and teaching certifications in Speech, English and Spanish.


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Darden Smith

Co-Founder / Creative Director

In a career spanning over three decades, singer-songwriter Darden Smith has released 15 critically acclaimed albums, composed a symphony, scored works for contemporary dance theater and written music for film, theater and advertising. He served a two-year appointment as artist-in-residence at Oklahoma State University’s School of Entrepreneurship, and has brought collaborative songwriting to Fortune-500 companies to help capture their story and revitalize their culture. Smith co-founded SongwritingWith:Soldiers, a nationally recognized nonprofit organization that brings professional songwriters together with wounded veterans to write songs based on their experiences of combat and the return home.
Smith continues to write, record and perform, and spends a great deal of time drawing sketches without straight lines.

His latest project, "Using Creativity to Make a Life (and a Living)," was released September 2018 on Irie Books.


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Ron Hirschberg

Consultant / Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Massachusetts General Hospital

I feel my central accomplishment has been to add to patient and family quality of care early on in the recovery continuum. In addition to clinical progress, through daily interaction with staff on various services, during my nine years at MGH there has been a more solid understanding of what our field offers, not only in this setting but in the continuum.

I am fortunate to bring rehabilitation contributions to acute care, formally and informally, through teaching. Since 2008 I have worked with roughly fifty PGY-4 PM&R trainees. I have taught fellows rotating from trauma, anesthesia, and neurology, as well as several medical students from HMS and other schools. We discuss TBI, SCI, amputee and stroke care, and the unique position we have as guides for patients and families with respect to near and future goals, quality of life discussions and disability.

Outside of medicine, music has been a common theme in my life, and I actively perform piano, write and record with professional and fellow amateur artists in the Boston area. More recently I have channeled the passion for music into the neurorehabilitation field, after working with TBI and stroke patients with neurological music therapists. Music neurorehabilitation has been available since the 1980s however not until recent years is there robust evidence and expertise in the music-brain interface, and with work from Gottfried Schlaug (HMS), and others at Tufts and Berklee School of Music, there is indeed exciting collaboration in Boston. I am currently chairing the first Arts and Neuroscience interest group, with concomitant track of symposia at the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM).


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SongwritingWith:Soldiers - The Effects of Collaborative Songwriting on Veterans Suffering from TBI and PTSD (422326)


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