TERRY DULLUM: The Dullum File — An Open Letter To UND From Ben Folds

Music doesn’t get much better than that created by Ben Folds. Below is his open letter to the University of North Dakota.



Dear President Schafer:

We are writing to urge you to reconsider eliminating the entire music therapy program at the University of North Dakota.

In our respective fields of music and science, we have seen firsthand the incredible healing power of music. Without question, music therapy has given a new found purpose and meaning to the positive impact of music in our society and has given hope on the front lines of medical research for millions who suffer from a wide range of neurological disorders ― from traumatic brain injury and dementia to autism.

Many fellow artists and neuroscientists, along with leading academic scholars, physicians and therapists from around the globe, are uniform in our conviction that music therapy offers tremendous potential for emerging breakthroughs in brain research and treatments.

UND’s music therapy program, with its reported current enrollment of 48 students representing nearly a third of your entire music department, is widely regarded as one of the most promising schools of its kind, with students having an impact across the nation. In any given semester, students can be found interning at numerous prestigious health care systems ― from the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and University Hospitals of Cleveland, to the Children’s Hospital of New Orleans and Park Nicollet. Just two years ago, UND’s music department commissioned outside consultants to assess the strengths of the department’s various programs, and their consensus was that your music therapy program should be the top priority.

Because of the outstanding and far-reaching reputation of your music therapy program, many of our peers will join us in watching closely how your administration acts on this matter. What should be of utmost concern to people in your own state is that, despite the fact that music therapy is recognized in North Dakota as a licensed profession, the elimination of the UND program will result in an even greater shortage of music therapists needed to care for your already grossly underserved population.

Suffice it to say, we strongly believe that dismantling the program will only serve to be a major setback to the vital progress that’s been made in the music therapy arena at large, and as such we sincerely hope you will reconsider the UND program’s proposed demise.

Furthermore, we pledge that, if you decide to retain the music therapy program, we will commit to come to UND at our own expense to hold a benefit performance/lecture with the intent of helping raise money to support its budget.


Ben Folds, Artist/Composer
Dr. Daniel Levitin, Neuroscientist/Author

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