It's been about 15 days since I returned from Atlanta and the
National Speakers Association annual convention. It was an amazing convention
and again, I learned so much about how to convey my information to my
audiences and readers and listeners online. I do believe that teaching people
about the healing power of music is my job while I'm on this earth and
everyday I learn more about it myself. I feel so blessed to have been able to
go to both Cancun University in January and the Fred Gleeck Internet Marketing
Seminar in Las Vegas in April. My world will never be the same. While in
Atlanta, I received the award for NSA Kentucky's "Outstanding Member." This
was a huge honor and thrill and I will continue to try and live up to that
Depression, Chronic Illness and Music
I want to talk to you this month about the use of music with
depression, chronic illnesses and chronic pain. Anyone who has suffered from
these things knows how devastating they can be. Depression can be a by-product
of chronic illness but it can also come by itself. As a psychotherapist, I
know that depression usually has a chemical component and that when the brain
stops producing the necessary chemicals for that much-needed sense of
well-being, all kinds of negative things can happen in the mind/body/spirit.
It can also become a chicken and egg situation. Did the depression pre-date
the pain and physical illness (like fibromyalgia) or did the physical illness
and pain cause the depression. It doesn't really matter once both are in
place. The question is "what can we do about it?" When depression is present,
it is very important to have an assessment from a mental health professional
in order to determine what level of care is needed. An
example of a good
online assessment does not take the place of meeting in person with a
professional. And now, how does music fit in? Music, of course, will not by
itself eliminate depressive illness. However, music is a powerful mood
changer. In many past issues I have written about the isoprinciple which
teaches us that when using music for mood altering, you must first choose
music that matches the mood of the depressed individual. If you're working
with a depressed Baby Boomer, you might choose "You've Got a Friend," "Bridge
Over Troubled Water," or "Rainy Days and Mondays." For a someone who lived
through the Great Depression and WWII you might play "Blues in the Night"
"Basin Street Blues" or old hymns like "Amazing Grace" or "In the Garden."
For the individual for whom physical illness is more severe, music can provide
both comfort and distraction. The isoprinciple dictates that if you're using
the music to go from a depressed state to a more positive or upbeat state, you
gradually begin to change the tempo and the mood of the music. As the mood and
tempo change, the brain actually begins to release dopamine and endorphins
naturally. The process can take anywhere from 45 minutes to days and days.
It's quite possible that the process must start over each day, but eventually
the process will take less and less time and in the process, you will discover
more and more which music is most effective for you. There is no particular
genre of music that is more effective than another; it is entirely about what
music YOU like and have positive associations with. Many people like to go
through the process with music from Broadway musicals, other prefer classical
music or jazz. The good news is that any of these will work if it's music you
(or the patient) really like.
Treatment for chronic pain is similar to above with the addition of strong,
fairly loud, rhythmic music. This provides not only the distraction factor but
also is a way of numbing the pain to some extent with the powerful pulsating
music like drumbeats or sometimes organ music with deep bass tones in the
pedal. For more specific composition suggestions, please contact me by e-mail.
purchase any of this music
Kentucky Music Festival and Jean Ritchie:
Do you know the music of your state, province or country?
Last night my friend and colleague Crystal Sahner treated ourselves to an
evening in Iroquois Park at the annual Kentucky Music Week-end. We are
extremely fortunate to be able to claim Jean Ritchie, a true legend in folk
music as a native Kentuckian. She's from Viper, Kentucky and told us herself
last night that she was born in 1922 and grew up in a musical family for whom
music was their daily connection to life and love, tragedy and celebration.
She grew up in the coal-mining country of Eastern Kentucky and the ballads and
songs she sings in her high, clear, folk-perfect voice tell the stories of
these people and their hard lives. Jean Ritchie has spent the last fifty years
researching Kentucky folk music and its relationship to the music's roots in
England, Ireland, and Scotland. She has many CD's of all of this music in many
versions. Last night, at age 83, she talked to the audience as though we were
all sitting in her living room chatting about her life. She talked about how
her Daddy only brought out the dulcimer on rainy days when he couldn't work in
the fields and that she would hide behind the couch and watch him play. He
never sang, she said, only played the tunes on the dulcimer. Ritchie said she
started out by sneaking the dulcimer from its hiding place when no one was
around and playing it softly. When her father finally decided to teach her,
she could already play and her parents knew they had a musician on their
hands. Ritchie is quite a musicologist and has recorded 100's of folksongs for
the Smithsonian Institutes Folkways record label.
Do you know the music of your native area? There is research that suggests
that we all naturally respond to the music of our native land, whether we grew
up there or ever even visited there. It seems that our very DNA remembers the
haunting folk melodies that were sung and played long, long ago, telling the
stories of we became who we are and where we came from. Music always is a
reflection of the culture that produced it. People say that music is the
universal language and it does share feelings and commonalities with many
cultures. But we almost always relate best to the music that reflects our
origins, whether in this life time or many years before. Do you know your
musical heritage? Treat yourself to some research and then some CD's or live
concerts. You'll be so glad that you did!
Until next times, keep humming and strumming!
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