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In This Issue:
The Power of Christmas and Holiday Music
Every year, starting by October, usually, the Christmas and other holiday music begins playing. For most people this is a happy and joyous phenomenon. Why? Because music of all kinds is so powerfully connected to childhood memories. Whether sacred or secular, each song seems to conjure up very specific memories. For me, each song is like a door into a time machine, where vivid memories flood my mind and flood my brain with endorphins and serotonin and my body with adrenaline.
When I was a little girl in the early 50's, my grandmother had a giant cardboard cut-out of Santa Claus, drinking a Coca-Cola with a big smile on his face. Many of our Christmas pictures from those days show Santa beside the Christmas tree and I can hear the song "Here Comes Santa Claus." I also remember "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Frosty the Snowman," and "Jingle Bells!" Because my father was a Methodist minister, we also emphasized the birth of Baby Jesus, the Christ Child, and I loved singing "Away in a Manger," "O Little Town of Bethlehem," "Silent Night," and "Joy to the World!" As I began to play the piano in the mid-50's, I learned songs like "Good King Wenceslas," "The Holly and the Ivy," "I Saw Three Ships" and many, many, many more.
For me, Christmas music and holiday music from other winter traditions, bring happy memories and feelings. I have friends and acquaintances who listen to Christmas music year-round because of the good feelings it engenders. Yes, there are some really silly ones, and some that are down-right offensive, but for the most part, I love it all! I like to treat myself to a new Christmas CD every year and so I have quite a selection in many different styles and genres.
I'm still amazed to think that we have just 12 different pitches, available in different ranges and different timbres, and organized into different harmonies and rhythms...but still, the variety that humans have created with these basic tools is absolutely astounding!! When we combine all of our many talents and gifts with intention and enthusiasm, the results can be almost miraculous.
I do hope that you all have a blessed, prosperous, and peaceful Holiday Season and New Year!
Toning and Chanting: What’s the Difference?
Vocal Toning is different from
traditional chanting, and allows for more flexibility and
creativity. Because it is hard to drum and sing at the same time,
you may find that vocal toning is easier than chanting. Instead of
using words we use tones (such as om, ah, hey). Vocal Toning is
about releasing. Toning in a circle with others is empowering. You
will feel inspired by the others in the
Using tones instead of words allows the mind to relax and take a
rest from thinking. This allows the brain to be refreshed. After
each session, you will find yourself feeling totally energized! The
combination of vocalizing and drumming has a dramatic effect on your
mind and body. If doing both at the same time is difficult, an
option is to alternate. With a little practice you may be able to do
Do you long for the Wonder and Magic of by-gone Christmases?
From my earliest childhood, Christmas (around the piano) has been a magical time for me. My grandmother, pictured on the cover, always had a live tree covered with sparkling ornaments and twinkling lights. The hand-made stockings were hung by the chimney with care, and the smell of Grandma's Christmas cookies filled the air!
As a minister's daughter, I heard the traditional carols from late November through mid-January and loved them immediately. I feel sure that some loving family member hummed "Silent Night" to me, possibly before I was even born. We always had a manger scene and the birth of Baby Jesus was explained to me in a way that did make it seem wondrous and filled with awe.
Surgery with Music: What are the options?
People preparing for surgery having been asking this question
for about 30 years now. Although the use of music in a
medical/healing environment is ancient, only in the late 20th
century were we actually able to measure the effects that music has
on the patient. For an intervention to be considered scientifically
meaningful or valid, there must be research. Now the studies have
been done and we know, for sure, music before, during and after
surgery is a great idea!
Music with Preemies: Research is in!
For nearly two decades, I've been helping people use the music that they already love to heal their lives and increase their wellness quotient! I am one of the world's only clinical musicologists and hold a Masters degree in piano performance, a Ph.D. in musicology and a Master of Social Work in clinical social work. I am also a licensed clinical social worker. I work with people and diagnoses of all kinds, enabling them to find healing, acceptance and hope.
I love performing, researching, and teaching and have put them all together in a career called "Music Medicine."
See you next month!!