Music and Alzheimer's

From 2015-16, Arlen served as an ArtistYear Fellow through the Curtis Institute of Music. One of the projects she developed focused on working with patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, specifically in communities with limited access to live arts and culture. She was originally inspired to curate this project through her own fascination with the effects of music on the brain, and research she encountered by the late Oliver Sacks. Her mission was to creatively serve as a teaching artist to patients with Alzheimer’s to enable them and their caregivers to find comfort, distraction, and coping through the means of artistic expression and enjoyment; to offer high-quality, enriching live music experiences for them to relax and enjoy together. Arlen conducted weekly hour-long home visits for a patient with Alzheimer’s and their caregiver(s) on a 6-week long basis, with an option to extend. Arlen was fortunate to partner with the Penn Memory Center, where she created strong and lasting relationships, and will continue to volunteer with them and their network of patients as long as she resides in the Philadelphia area. Her eventual goal is to find a neurologist with similar fascinations regarding the effects of music on the brain, and to collaborate on a research study focused on the effects of music on a demented brain.

Music and Autism

As an ArtistYear Fellow, Arlen split her time between two projects – working with patients with Alzheimer’s (as outlined above), and working with children with autism. With the children with autism, her mission was to creatively serve as a teaching artist to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD); to present high-quality, enriching, live musical experiences to communities that may not otherwise have access to them; to enable youth with autism to build confidence, develop social, leadership, and organizational skills, and to find alternative means for expression to carry with them throughout their lives. As an ArtistYear fellow, Arlen engaged with communities with children with autism throughout the greater Philadelphia area, and taught weekly lesson plans to children in the autism program at Cooper’s Poynt Elementary School in Camden, New Jersey. She worked in partnership with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Autism, and, inspired by a conference she attended at the CfA and families she met that day, put on an interactive performance designed specifically for families with children with autism to provide these families with the opportunity to experience live music in a safe, understanding, and welcoming environment. Overwhelmed by the positive feedback she received from the families, Arlen was inspired to found Philadelphia Performances for Autism, which, thanks to the generous support of the Tarisio Trust Young Artist’s Grant, premiered in the fall of 2016.

Music and Nature

Passionate about and awestruck by the beauty and intricacies of nature, anyone who knows Arlen well knows that she has immense respect for nature. Arlen joyfully spends any spare time she can outside (including some practice hours when the weather is right!), and a simple visit to her Instagram is a testament to the inspiration she finds and admiration she holds for mother nature. Arlen is currently working on performance projects that highlight the symbiosis between music and nature, while organically bringing light to severe issues of our time such as climate change and animal endangerment. Stay tuned!