Dear Friends of HME,
Ever since Congress broke spontaneously into "God Bless America," early on in this tragedy, people have been using music as one tool for coping with their pain, anger and fear. No one could have predicted it; or at least no one did except possibly Nostradamus and that is questionable. Our country and our planet will never be the same. We all hope that it can be a better place but the trauma we have suffered is undeniable.
And yet even in the midst of unspeakable pain and sorrow, some positive things have come. One thing has been the "temporary" erasing of partisan lines through this crisis and a standing together and uniting of the American people and the global family in a way that I have never seen in my 53 years on the planet. I have not heard the first word of blame having to do with a particular political party or leader in our country. The country has united to help the victims and families in any way possible and the sacrifice of time, talents and money has been generous and impressive.
Another gift has been the gorgeous music I have heard. Arrangements of traditional patriotic songs like "My Country Tis of Thee," "America the Beautiful," and "The Star-Spangled Banner" to medleys of traditional hymns such as "Amazing Grace" and "O God Our Help in Ages Past." The music at the service at the National Cathedral was particularly moving for me and hearing Denyce Graves was a first. Last Friday I heard her sing on the "Oprah" show a song that was written for President Bush's inauguration by Gene Scheer. The piece is called "American Anthem" and I was quite touched by this powerful piece of music which I recommend highly to you. Other music that, for me, has been powerfully healing has been the Spirituals such as "There is a Balm in Gilead," "Kum Ba Yah," and "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands."
On another note, in the pop music world, many famous people in the entertainment world have immediately risen to the occasion. A group of pop stars led by Michael Jackson plan to record a new song called "What Can I Give?"
to raise $50 million for survivors and families of victims in the terrorist
attack. Reminiscent of the1985 "We Are the World" fund-raising
effort in which Jackson co-wrote the song to raise $65 million for the USA for Africa fund to feed starving Africans, Jackson shows once again his compassion and generosity. "We have demonstrated time and again that music can touch our souls. It is
time we used that power to help us begin the process of healing immediately,"
Jackson said. If you're not using music right now to soothe your soul and to find some strength and courage, I urge you to do so.
In Peace and Prayer,
Alice H. Cash, Ph.D., LCSW
Why Does Patriotic Music Have Such Powerful Effects?
Those of you who have been in my workshops and lectures, and who have read my book and articles know all about entrainment. For those of you just now tuning in, let me inform you. Entrainment in a process wherein the basic body rhythms such as heartbeat and breathing, synchronize to the pulse of the music. For that reason, when you listen to a brisk Sousa march or a slow, stately dirge your body responds immediately to the tempo and to the mood of the music. Right? We know intuitively what music we like and what music we're in the mood for and what we don't want to hear as well.
One of the primary factors that determines our taste in music is what our previous associations what that particular piece of music or genre of music have been. Patriotic music is associated with some of out strongest and deepest positive feelings; feelings of loyalty, pride, devotion, and gratitude. We may not always agree with everything our leaders decide, but this is our country and we're proud to call ourselves American citizens (or whatever nation we come from's citizens) or we wouldn't be here.
We have heard our particular country's national anthems such as "America the Beautiful," "Oh, Canada," "The Star-Spangled Banner,"
"Deutschlandlied," "God Save the Queen," " La Marseillaise," and "My Country Tis of Thee," since pre-school years and have heard it at parades and functions where crowds of people including authority figures and dignitaries invariably respond instantaneously with respect and visible gestures of pride and deference. This makes an impression on children and a positive one. In addition, these songs are written to be accompanied with instruments such as organ or brass and percussion which stir our hearts and our emotions in a very positive way. It becomes a matter of conditioning.
We are fortunate to have such a rich body of stirring and peaceful music. Personally, I would rather listen to "Let There be Peace on Earth" than "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" but whatever your preferences, remember that musical messages are powerful.
September was a busy and enjoyable month. Once I got home from taking my daughter to Santa Fe I got right to work on my next projects and my next book which is going to be called "Music and Surgery." So many people have requested this that it seems right and the time is ripe! In the meantime, I did a workshop on September 23 for the 5010th Division of the U.S. Army Reserve Nurses on "Music and Healing". It was well-received and they said it was mostly news to them! I was very touched when they said that they hope to take this information with them if they are deployed to Afghanistan or wherever. That would be wonderful!
On October 20, I will be doing a book-signing at Circle Books in Sarasota on St. Armond's Key at 3-5 PM. Please stop in and say hello if you're in the area! I'd love to meet you. If you're interested in having me give a workshop, lecture, or doing a book-signing, just drop me an e-mail and I'll get right back in touch with you!
Question of the Month
What do you think about tone of voice? I feel that I am so sensitive to different people's voices (speaking) and it causes me problems because sometimes I cannot focus on content because of the tone of their voice.
T.H. in Kentucky
Some people are quite sensitive to the tone of voice and usually it's people who are musical and have good ears. It's not always easy to ask a person to speak softer (for instance if it's your boss or a person in authority) but being aware of this can help you to avoid certain people or situations, if possible. A very wise man called Sathya Sai Baba said "soft sweet speech is the expression of genuine Love. Hate screeches,
fear squeals, conceit trumpets, but love sings lullabies; it soothes, it applies balm. Practice the vocabulary of love."
At this particular time in history, I highly recommend it!
Send in a question that you'd like for Chantdoc to answer next month!