January 2007

Healing Music New Year!

  1. New Year's Eve Music
  2. Can Music Affect the Outcome of the Super Bowl?




New Year's Eve Music

Well, do you have big plans for tonight? There are so many traditions related to New Year's Eve and it's certainly not a big surprise. This is the classic "turning point" in everyone's year. No matter what religion you are or what your belief system, it's the classic time to make big behavioral changes. People decide to quit smoking, exercise more, lose weight, become more assertive...all kinds of things! For people who love music, it might be a good time to dust off an instrument, pick up a new instrument, join a choir or a band or a community orchestra. Music lifts the spirit, it infuses you with energy, it calms a racing mind, it soothes the soul. The song "Auld Lang Syne" has been played for decades, if not centuries, on New Year's Eve. Guy Lombardo popularized the familiar saxophone rendition in 1939. He first broadcast it on his radio special, The Lombardo New Year's Eve Party, which started in 1929 and is the longest-running annual program in radio history. Lombardo died in 1977, but his saxophone rendition of Auld Lang Syne has immortalized him in western culture, becoming the definitive song of the new year .

The words are appropriate:  (Anglicized translation)

Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot, and auld lang syne ?

For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne, we'll take a cup o kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

And surely youll buy your pint cup! And surely Ill buy mine! And we'll take a cup o kindness yet, for auld lang syne. CHORUS

We two have run about the hills,and pulled the daisies fine; But weve wandered many a weary foot, since auld lang syne. CHORUS

We two have paddled in the stream, from morning sun till dine (dinner time) ;But seas between us broad have roared since auld lang syne. CHORUS

And theres a hand my trusty friend !And give us a hand o thine! And well take a right good-will draught, for auld lang syne. CHORUS

Whatever your plans, enjoy the evening and best wishes for a healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year!

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Can Music Affect the Outcome of the Super Bowl?

It may sound crazy but maybe you haven't heard my famous football story: two high school football teams here in Kentucky were playing a championship game. One team was absolutely crushing the other team and their morale was going down, down, down. The losing coach was desperate for a breakthrough when suddenly the band director had a brilliant idea. He decided his "pep band" would take the other team's fight song and play it in a minor key every time they got to the goal line and were about to make another touchdown.

Now you know what a minor key is right? A minor key sounds dark, scary, gloomy and is just a half-step different from a major key! You can take any song or melody and easily put it in a minor key. Back to the story though. When the Pep Band played the other team's fight song in a minor key, it immediately rendered them weak, ineffective and powerless! The losing team actually caught up and won the championship game!! Later, the band director was disciplined and told never to do this again because it was unfair tactics!! Should you send an email to your team? It could be a secret strategy!


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Music on the Brain

Dr. Mark TramoAt the Harvard Medical School, Dr. Mark Tramo is doing research on how music affects the brain. His research also suggests that even babies have specific musical likes and dislikes. The dark stripe on the model brain he holds marks an area particularly sensitive to rhythm, melody, and harmony. The good doctor says that "They begin to respond to music while still in the womb. At the age of 4 months, dissonant notes at the end of a melody will cause them to squirm and turn away. If they like a tune, they may coo. "

"Music is in our genes," says Mark Jude Tramo, a musician, prolific songwriter, and neuroscientist at the Harvard Medical School. "Many researchers like myself are trying to understand melody, harmony, rhythm, and the feelings they produce, at the level of individual brain cells. At this level, there may be a universal set of rules that governs how a limited number of sounds can be combined in an infinite number of ways."

"All humans come into the world with an innate capability for music," agrees Kay Shelemay, professor of music at Harvard. "At a very early age, this capability is shaped by the music system of the culture in which a child is raised. That culture affects the construction of instruments, the way people sound when they sing, and even the way they hear sound. By combining research on what goes on in the brain with a cultural understanding of music, I expect we'll learn a lot more than we would by either approach alone."

Imagine how wonderful it would be if music could provide one powerful path to peace!

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Alice H. Cash, Ph.D., LCSW

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