May 2011

In This Issue:
  • Why does everyone love holiday music?
  • What is the best music for healing:  "revisited"
  • Ever had a tune "stuck" in your brain?
  • Alzheimer's information package
  • Invite Dr. Cash to speak at your conference
  • About Alice Cash

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    Why does everyone love holiday music?

Everyone loves holiday music!  It reinforces one of my main beliefs about what makes people healing and effective in people's lives.  Music that has positive associations for you will likely have a very beneficial effect on your mind, body, and spirit.  To find out which holiday music will be best for you, take a little trip down memory lane to your childhood, and youth.  Do you remember songs that your parents listened to when you were little; songs that you know associate strongly with your Mother or Father? 

I remember my father liking the songs "O, My Papa" and "My Grandfather's Clock."  Yes, they are very sentimental songs that were popular back in the era of the Great Depression, but somehow they comforted people.  My mother loved "The Teddy Bear's Picnic" and I remember hearing her play it on the piano after she put us to bed at night.  We are so fortunate today that we can go to You Tube and find most any song or piece of music that we can remember and easily take a little trip back to our youth or childhood.

Of course, patriotic music is well-known for stirring the soul and enabling people to do things that they otherwise could not do.  But patriotic music comes in all moods and perspectives.  It's not a well-known fact that right after 9/11 happened in 2001, our Congress was meeting and when this tragedy was announced, someone spontaneously began singing "God Bless America" and the entire congressional body joined in singing.

What holiday music do YOU love and that would you like to hear this summer?  Your stories and anecdotes are welcome and will be used in my research!  Thanks!


  What is the best music for healing: revisited

When I go out to speak for conferences and conventions, one of the most frequent questions I hear is "what is the very best music for healing?"  I can completely understand people wanting to believe that there is one particular piece of music, or even one genre of music that is better than all others; sadly it's not that easy.  The music is going to be most healing for you can vary greatly depending on what you're feeling that day, what decade of your life you're in, and whether you prefer familiar or unfamiliar music.

For example, the music that I have currently put on my Surgical Serenity Headphones, is music that will be unfamiliar as far as the specific pieces, but familiar in terms of being classical piano music from the romantic era.  But I decided to choose rather unfamiliar piano pieces just in case the patient wearing the headphones, had a unpleasant experience playing the piece.  The chances of the average patient knowing one of these pieces is slim, therefore desirable.

So what I recommend is this:  while you're feeling well, begin to categorize the music that is YOUR favorite music into two broad categories, calming and energizing.  Then begin to subdivide each of those two categories into instrumental, vocal, the decade it's from, popular music, sacred music, etc., etc.  Once you have organized your CD's, records, sheet music or whatever, then you can begin to choose more intentionally what music will help you when you're feeling, sad, upset, sick, sluggish or whatever emotion or feeling you may be feeling.  Depending on how big your music library is, it could take a few days, or become an ongoing, lifelong project.  In any event, it's so worth while for you and you will not regret it!

 Ever had a tune "stuck" in your brain?

 When I first started this ezine, over ten years ago, one of my first topics was "ear worms."  This was such a popular topic among people of all kinds, that I thought it merited a re-visit! 

"Can a Tune Get Stuck in Your Brain?" (from Healing Music Ezine, v.1 no. 4)

On the morning I was leaving for Florida I happened to pick up a newspaper on the plane that had an article from the L.A. Times called "Stuck!" The entire article was a report on the research of a professor at the University of Cincinnati about a problem he calls "Stuck Tune Syndrome." You've probably experienced this. I know I certainly have! I get a tune stuck in my mine and it goes round and round for days before it finally vanishes. Sometimes it comes back weeks, months, or even years later to plague me again for awhile. I've heard many people talk about the phenomenon, but when I saw this article, I thought to myself "What perfect timing!" This is a problem I have suffered from my entire life and I was searching for an interesting topic for the October e-zine that day anyway. Plus, I wanted to see what the professor had discovered; especially if a cure was part of it!

Without giving you more information than you want, I will say that on my honeymoon long ago in 1971, we were in this gorgeous resort in the British Virgin Islands and all I could think about was the McDonalds jingle "You deserve a break today, so get out and get away to McDonalds!" No matter how hard I tried to substitute another tune, think about how much fun I was having, etc. I found myself plagued with that tune and that idiotic phrase going through my mind at least 500 times each day. It made me feel terribly guilty because I was otherwise having a great time.

According to Professor James Kellaris, certain types of music operate like mental mosquito bites. They create a cognitive "itch" that can only be scratched by replaying the tune in the mind. But unfortunately, the more the mind scratches, the worse the itch gets. Kellaris surveyed 1000 college students to see which tunes seemed to be the "stickiest" and also asked them how long the tunes had stuck. He was trying to identify characteristics in the tunes that might cause them to have the "sticking" effect. One of the things that he thought probably had an effect, not surprisingly, was lots of repetition.

For instance, the song "Follow the Yellow Brick Road" or Queen's "We Will Rock You." Another factor is musical simplicity; children's songs are usually quite simple and for that reason are easy to remember and are usually remembered through life. Another, very different component of sticky songs, Kellaris found, is incongruity. Songs that have irregular rhythms and meters such as Leonard Bernstein's "America" from West Side Story" with it's syncopated 12/8 rhythm is very "sticky." Some of today's Hip-Hop music with it's driving and repetitive riffs throughout are pretty sticky. Missy Elliot's "Get Your Freak On," comes to mind, although I certainly couldn't recommend it as a piece of healing music. As a clinical musicologist I try to listen to all kinds of music so that I can relate to clients of all ages and musical tastes.

Diana Deutsch, psychology professor at the University of California, San Diego, and editor of the journal Music Perception, believes that when a tune gets "stuck" it might have to do with the deeper meaning of the words involved. "Even songs without words can have a larger meaning." Therefore when a song is going round and round in your head, you might ask yourself if the words have a deeper meaning for yourself. Of course if the tune is "I'm a Little Teacup" the meaning is all too obvious!

Here is the list of the top 10 most-often "stuck" tunes:

"The Macarena"
"I'm a Little Teacup"
"Gilligan's Island
The Chili's "Baby-back-rib" jingle
Tchaikovsky's 1812 overture
Kenny Roger's "The Gambler"
Two "Dr. Pepper" jingles
Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nachtsmusik"
Theme from "The Andy Griffith Show"
To that I would add the theme from "The Beverly Hillbillies" and a couple of other classical melodies including some fugue subjects.

Music psychologists, neurologists, musicologists, and everyday folks know that music can exert a powerful grip on the mind. At the very least, a stuck tune can be annoying, but when one is really stuck, it can be almost maddening. One of the professor's respondents claimed, perhaps jokingly, that he had the music from an Atari 260 video game playing in his head since 1986! What do you do what you have a stuck tune? Sad to say, there is no cure, but here are some of the things that people have tried with varying degrees of success:

Substituting another tune by thinking it, humming it or playing it. Unfortunately, it too could become stuck.

Turning to another distracting task like reading aloud, balancing your checkbook, or talking on the phone to a friend.

Trying a folk remedy like chewing on a cinnamon stick; this is actually said to be effective!

The old "cootie" method wherein the song is transferred to another by humming a few bars to the person and saying "now you've got it!"

As I said, it's a frustrating situation but not fatal. Right now I would strongly recommend listening to all of your favorite old songs and instrumental favorites. Remember that the music of our "courting" years is said to be the most soothing and comforting and that's what we all need right now.


  Alzheimer Information Package

We have pulled together an informative package to help you understand what is happening in the life of the Alzheimerís patient.

We sat down at a beautiful Steinway Grand Piano and recorded the 23 most commonly requested songs as we have entertained the elderly. The beautiful sound of a great piano comes through in these simple piano solos. The recordings allow the listener to revisit their past, generate discussions between listeners, or sing along. The recordings are music only as to engage the listenerís mind and have them bring up the words or lyrics they remember.

Your Music is Ready to Use!"

Your music will arrive on high-quality, self-contained, wireless headphones that are already pre-loaded.

  • No downloading music files.
  • No trying to load your MP3 player
  • No hassle of ear buds the may fall out.
  • No wires or cords to get in the doctor's way. .

"Using Music with Alzheimer's PatientsĒ (Interview)

This program presents the latest information on why Alzheimerís patients respond to this music and oftentimes sing along or clap in time to the music when few other things get their attention or engage them at all. You donít want to miss out on an opportunity to provide this simple but powerful intervention for your friend or family member.

That's just 3 items in this specially priced package!

Please visit our limited time offer to see all 7 items

  Dr. Cash will come and speak or play a recital for YOUR association, conference, university or church

Speaking is something that I love to do because for me, speaking is a form of teaching that allows me to reach far more people than if I were still a college professor.  Although I love being associated with colleges and universities, I also love the freedom of being able to fly anywhere in the country or the world to be a keynote speaker on "The Healing Power of Music."  I have received invitations from as far as Hawaii, Spain, and Turkey and always try to fulfill these invitations and deliver more than I'm asked to deliver.  I consider that the knowledge and experience I have acquired is something to be shared and experienced by as many other people as possible! 

I am always happy to stay in private homes and come when the fares are affordable.  I consider myself to be a sort of "music healing missionary" and love to travel to far-away or remote places as well as the major cities and highways and by-ways of life!  I can tailor my talk to your group's specific needs and requirements and will offer the most reasonable fee that I possibly can.  Please don't assume that your group can't afford me.  I will work with you to make it happen.  Just visit our speaker information page and then let's talk!


See you next month!!

Alice Cash

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     About Alice Cash
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  Bachelors and Masters degrees 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.

Many people assume that I am a music therapist but I am not.  I was trained originally as a concert pianist, then as a musicologist, then as a clinical social worker.  I love performing, researching, and teaching and have put them all together in a career called "Music Medicine."  However, the field of music therapy is much better known and has degree programs and credentialing  that is very valuable and important. 

 To hear me speak, and watch me in action "is to have a day that will amaze, educate, motivate, and inspire you!"  (Joanna Driver, meeting planner in England)  To hire me as a keynote speaker for your association or organization n.  Visit our speaker information page   |   Previous Ezines

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