San Diego, California - Bill Protzmann, music teacher at Episcopal Community Services’ Friend to Friend program, is the recipient of the 2014 Inspiring Hope Artistic Expression award from the National Council for Behavioral Health.

Protzmann will be honored in Washington DC on Tuesday, May 6, 2014 and receive a $10,000 grant - from Eli Lilly and Company - for the non-profit organization of his choice.

Bill Protzmann describes himself as a "virtuoso pianist and passionate humanist." When his fingers fly over the keys, he intends not only to entertain but also to heal people coping with physical and mental challenges. He discovered "musical healing" on his own journey to recover from schizophrenia and chronic depression. He says music helped him experience his pain in a safe space and work through his emotions.

Protzmann now shares his healing experience with others with mental illness, survivors of abuse and cancer, children with emotional disturbances and their parents, the terminally ill, caregivers, and senior citizens. Protzmann’s one-man show, "Connected!" offers music as a healing tool to service members and veterans with PTSD. As a music teacher, Protzmann conducts weekly classes at Episcopal Community Services’ "Friend to Friend" program.

The program serves the needs of homeless adults with mental illness in central San Diego by offering housing, mental health, and vocational reintegration services to help people regain independence. Program staff reach out to clients on the streets and visit other agencies to seek out individuals in need and connect them with an array of social services and assistance. "We congratulate Bill Protzmann for winning the Inspiring Hope Artistic Expression award," said Linda Rosenberg, President & CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health. "He knows that music changes lives. And by sharing the pain of his own mental illness, and the courage with which he battled it, Bill has inspired so many who are so vulnerable and without hope," she added.

Protzmann's musical healing helps audiences express their own feelings in a safe and affirming way and helps them recreate this experience for themselves. "I feel like a live reminder of how music changes us," Protzmann says. "We've all known at some level that sounds make us feel things. I provide well-researched evidence of why intentionally listening to the music you love changes you, and tools for you to do this for yourself."

Protzmann founded and ran a telecom business for more than 20 years and holds magna cum laude degrees in piano performance and creative writing. He has performed in prestigious concerts and released two original albums.