coffee club

A circular photo of Haleigh Black playing the violin overlaying a blue and white background.

Where are you from and when did you get started in music?

I’m from Cullman, Alabama, where I attended my first violin concert at the age of three. My mom says that I sat entranced throughout the whole concert, and when she said it was time to leave, I cried because I wanted to play the violin. That’s when I started taking lessons.

How long have you been with UAB Arts in Medicine?

I’ve been an artist in residence with UAB Arts in Medicine (AIM) since the end of 2019.

What is your role with UAB Arts in Medicine?

I perform in public spaces at UAB Hospital, St. Vincent’s Hospital and throughout the Birmingham community. I also lead group self-care workshops and conduct research to further the field of arts and health. My goal is to provide a positive distraction for patients, guests and staff.

What are some of your favorite things about working with them?

Working with UAB AIM has been incredibly fulfilling because I get to witness how music can improve people’s moods and overall well-being. It also gives me many opportunities to perform calming, uplifting music, which in turn leaves me feeling calm and uplifted.

You’re a frequent guest in NCHPAD Coffee Club. What have been your takeaways from your appearances?

I have had the pleasure of being a guest in the Coffee Club twice this year, leading musical activities centered around self-care. An hour flies by in the company of the responsive, approachable and kind members of the Coffee Club. Everyone has been extremely welcoming and supportive. At the end of my last session, one attendee said, “Thank you for reminding me to sing and listen to music. I feel brighter than I did an hour ago. I’ll be singing for the rest of the day!” The shared enthusiasm for singing and participating in meaningful discussions reflects the strong sense of community cultivated within the Coffee Club.

What music would you recommend to anyone for rest and relaxation?

For rest and relaxation, I recommend listening to music you enjoy that has a slow tempo and a simple melody. After I perform the jazz standards, “La Vie En Rose,” “Moon River,” “Skylark,” “What a Wonderful World” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” people have said that it was very calming, so if you are searching for relaxing music, perhaps you could give those a try. See if you are more relaxed by recordings with lyrics or instrumental arrangements without lyrics.

What music helps you relieve stress?

Music that helps me relieve stress includes instrumental songs like Lionel Loueke’s “Vi Gnin,” Pat Metheny’s arrangement of “And I Love Her,” and Claude Debussy’s “Rêverie, L. 68.” Sometimes, I just listen to low, humming drones or gentle rain sounds for relaxation which can be found on audio streaming services or online sound generators like

What does self-care mean to you?

To me, self-care means prioritizing things that help me recharge, relax and maintain a healthy, happy life. This includes getting enough sleep, eating food that nourishes my body, exercising, playing music, spending time with friends and family, and reminding myself often of everything that there is to be grateful for.

What do you think are some of the mental health benefits of playing or listening to music?

Listening to music that we enjoy boosts positive emotions through the reward centers of the brain, giving us a sense of being cared for. Humans have a long history of using music to cope with challenges, express emotions and seek comfort. Singing or playing music in a group can provide a sense of connection. Singing has been shown to improve speech. Holding an instrument and moving to create sounds can increase your ability to grab and hold items throughout the day to perform daily tasks like brushing your teeth or feeding yourself. Learning songs can improve sequencing and recall. Simply listening to music can reduce stress and anxiety, distract us from pain and sometimes decrease the need for drugs.

Do you have any self-care tips that involve music? (ex. Making a playlist, humming, getting active while listening to music, etc.)

Exercise to the beat of a song to help you stay motivated and to make the activity more fun. Sing more often. Learning an instrument or improving your vocal skills can be a rewarding form of self-care. Create personalized playlists that you can listen to when you want to relax or boost your mood. Practice mindfulness or meditation with soft, soothing instrumental music for relaxation. If possible, consider joining a choir, band or music group; this can provide a sense of community.

What is your favorite song to play on the violin?

Lately, I enjoy playing and improvising over the bossa nova jazz standard, “Wave,” by Antônio Carlos Jobim.

Who are some of your biggest musical influences? Have they impacted your style and sound?

Some of my biggest musical influences are Bela Fleck, Tessa Lark, Pat Metheny and Shakti. They have led me to explore a diverse variety of musical styles. Experiencing their live concerts has changed the way I play, the way I carry myself and the way I think about performing. Their influence has taught me the value of having fun on stage, connecting with an audience, playing music as an offering and embracing the ongoing journey of understanding music.

How can people learn more about your music?

I am in the process of recording a duo album with guitarist and composer Davis Little. Feel free to explore our musical journey on Instagram at @davisandhaleigh and connect with me on Facebook as Haleigh Black or on Instagram as @haleighblackviolin to stay updated on new releases and musical content.

A photo of James Blazin over a blue and white background with the words "participant spotlight"

Tell us about yourself. Where are you from, etc.

My name is James Blazin. I am 52 years old, and I live in Griffin, Georgia.

When did you connect with NCHPAD?

I began NCHPAD programs in May of this year, starting with Coffee Club.

What NCHPAD programs have you been part of?

I am still doing Coffee Club, and just finished the MENTOR program.

What did you like about any of the programs?

I like the variety of subjects talked about in Coffee Club and the different people to interact with in both Coffee Club and MENTOR.

Tell us why you would recommend a NCHPAD program or NCHPAD Connect to someone else.

Because it is a great way to get to know others and stimulate the mind.

What brings you joy?

My relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, my relationship with my family, and my relationship with my girlfriend, Amber.

How has this impacted your life? Is there anything you’ve learned from NCHPAD that has impacted your life?

I am now more social with others, and it has helped me make friends more easily. I have learned that people come from all walks of life, and we all have our individuality, and we are not to look down on others for their differences or any other reason.

Is there a particular person you’d like to give a shout-out, like an instructor, health coach, etc?

I have a shout-out for Stephanie Ward, the Community Engagement Health Educator and Coffee Club leader, and John, who does the exercise class in the MENTOR program.