The ‘Soul Key’ Program – Music Studies for people suffering from military related post-traumatic stress (PTSD)

לעברית לחצו כאן

Listen here, my child, Daddy has a scar

Long since times of war,

Shards never hit his body, but they did his soul,

That is why daddy can’t calm down

Avichai Hollander

The “Soul Key” Program

SOUL Key is a groundbreaking musical rehabilitation program aimed to facilitate a return to regular life for people dealing with post traumatic stress (PTSD) due to military service.
Studying music with the best teachers at the Conservatory and using creative, non-verbal processes to treat the trauma in a supportive environment, the patients find a way to heal their souls; some are even able return to regular work and social activities.
The program was founded and is directed on a voluntary basis by clinical psychologist Yifat Greenwald-Cohen, who treats PTSD sufferers professionally, together with Michal Arad Abramov, Director of organizational development at the Conservatory and Hadas Kaplan in charge of running the activities.
SOUL Key has been operating at the Conservatory since 2016. It numbers some 80 former combatants, male and female, from various IDF units who have experienced trauma due to their military service.
Since it was established, over 120 ex-combatants have participated, dating from the 1973 Yom Kippur War and until today. They partake in music studies that include: playing every kind of instrument, singing, songwriting and composing, sound and music production, music theory, master classes, workshops, talks and concerts.

A professional accompanying support framework has been established, to handle moments of crisis and give guidance for teachers and staff.
Over the years workshops and master classes have been held with leading local musicians such as: Achinoam Nini, Yoni Rechter, Shem Tov Levy, Alon Oleartchik, Shlomo Ydov, Dan Toren, Esther Rada, Corinne Allal, Peter Roth, Yali Sobol, Daniella Spektor, Rona Keinan, Leah Shabbat, Yermy Kaplan, Avi Singolda, Yair Nitzani, radio personality Yoav Kutner and others.

Background, Vision and Goals

The program evolved from the understanding that music has a healing effect on the mind and out of a desire to find additional paths for rehabilitating and supporting combatants who were sent on national assignments and returned with mental injuries.
The point is: trauma interrupts the course of life. People with PTSD lose faith in the ability to live in the world with confidence. They also lose faith in society and in themselves. Engaging in music activates the healthy parts of the mind, bringing with it a sense of satisfaction and pleasure, competence, meaning and hope.
The program takes place at a center of musical activity in our vibrant music Conservatory and offers a meeting place outside the confines of hospitals – a free, creative, spontaneous environment devoid of stigma, with the aim of returning participants to society.

The program is demanding and challenging:
Participants learn perseverance and commitment, to manage frustration and to deal with interpersonal and social challenges.
Studies are constructed according to participants’ abilities and difficulties, so that each one can develop and benefit to the utmost.

The main principles of SOUL Key:

Music for rehabilitation – music as a constant core commitment to produce meaningful, interesting, stimulating development and a path to emotional expression. The learning process means participants utilize their healthy mental and emotional strengths and in this way feelings of competence and self-esteem are reinforced.

Recognition and appreciation by Israeli society– Rehabilitation at a prestigious, centrally located establishment for music education means that participants are integrating into a fundamental social activity. In this way their difficulties and special needs are given the due social recognition and appreciation they deserve, as is their contribution as combatants.

Support – In view of the participants’ struggle to manage and organize their lives, we have in place a comprehensive, warmhearted, welcoming support system.

Study Programs

Individual studies – weekly music and singing lessons; private lessons with Conservatory teachers on all instruments: piano, flute, drum kit and percussion, guitar, oud and violin, plus voice development, composition, sound studies and amplification.
Workshop for writing lyrics, and composing music for songs, courtesy of the late Rafi Farbman’s family. Mixed group and individual classes, run by Dan Toren. Musicians Michael Gottlieb, Shay Alon and Noam Sperber assist the participants in composing and production. Songs are recorded at the Conservatory recording studio with Yaron Aldema.
Individual tuition in writing song lyrics by songwriter and musician Tsruya Lahav.
Vocal ensembles for voice development, performance techniques and lyrics led by Gòn Halevi.
Music theory and guided listening – group classes.
Master classes / talks / workshops – open to everyone in the SOUL Key community. Group gatherings held once or twice a month. With top artists. Present and former SOUL Key participants and other PTSD patients who are not part of the program are invited to these gatherings together with their spouses and partners.
SOUL Key participants are invited to attend all concerts and musical events held by the Conservatory. The Conservatory provides the professional teaching staff and all the necessary infrastructure: classrooms, rehearsal/training rooms and auditoriums, recording studio, loan of musical instruments, office services, etc.


Soul Key – Participant interviews, Nov. 2019

To donate to the program click here

Program Staff

Professional management in the field of mental health – Yifat Greenwald-Cohen.
General and Musical Direction – Michal Arad Abramov.
Running SOUL Key activities – Hadas Kaplan.
Teaching staff – group tuition and individual classes: Gòn Halevi, Nadav Sivan, Yaron Aldema, Onn Yosef Kadosh, Avri Borochov, Anat Nazarathy, Tal Veron, Ran Shimoni, Gili Ben-Zvi, Ayala Sikron, Keren Biton, Shay Alon, Michael Gottlieb, Noam Sperber, Dan Toren.
Recording studio and sound amplification – Yaron Aldema
Musicians invited to master classes, workshops and lectures.
Assistance in practicing between lessons and reinforcing learning – the “IDF outstanding musicians program”.

Thanks to donors who make the program possible.

The program relies on Conservatory fundraising, private donations and scholarship funds. Recently, the First International Bank of Israel gave a substantial donation, along with the Lior Vishinsky Foundation, which made it possible to double the number of participants and the range of activities.

First International Bank, Farbman Family, Jacob Isler Foundation, Weisfeld Foundation (Canada), Lior Vishinsky Foundation (Cameri Theater), Vilnai Family Foundation, Tel Aviv Foundation, Pfizer Family, Zeev Feldman, Baruch Ivcher, Yoram Petrushka, Yael Eger, Iris & Chen Barir, Michal and Yuval Rakavy, Raphael Bajer, The Grinshpon Family, Lilli Dotan & Izhar Irony, Zipi Roytman, Brosh Nir Entrepreneurship, Ora Aharoni, Pa’amei Tikva, Noa Rosenberg, Anny Berman, Dafna & Bentzi Danieli Algazi, Kochavi Family, Shaily & Kobi Atzmon, Tamima Shahar, Ilana & Zeev Laor, Ruth Gorenstein, Kibbutz Sasa, Fidelity Gold Real Estate Marketing, Shemer Motion Ltd. and anonymous donors.

Media Articles and videos related to the Program


Can’t Calm Down – Avichai Hollander


“In a loop between past and present” – Song writing workshop event, Nov. 2022

“>Kan 11 – This week with Yaron Dekel

The New York Times

The Jerusalem Post

“Kan 11 – Culture Agent”

South African Jewish Report