The Olympics have been a highlight event in many households this month. This popular traditional event is characterized by ceremony and exceptional performance. Music is an integral component of both Olympic ceremony and performance. Which brings me to the question, What did YOU think of the music used in the Olympics this year? First of all, there was the famous John Williams theme that has been used for the past 3 or 4 Olympics, now associated worldwide with these time-honored Games. Almost any man, woman or child who hears this stirring march with its trumpets and fanfare would immediately think "the Olympics!" That's how powerful musical cues are. But what did you think about the music that the various skaters chose to use for their pairs skating and ice dancing? Personally, being a musical traditionalist, I liked those that chose the classical music. Like the "Meditation" from "Thais" that the controversial Russian couple skated to, versus the "Love Story Theme" that the Canadian couple used. Of course this reflects my life experience in music. Other people obviously prefer very different kinds of music. Which leads to my next point. We all must respect the musical taste of the individual. There is no right or wrong in musical preference. For instance, if a patient tells me that they want to listen to country music ballads before their surgery, that's what they get. Music that resonates with the individual has more wide range effects on their body and psyche. This is true for both reflective relaxing music as well as active pick-me-up tunes. Music was written to communicate the thoughts and feelings of one human to another and when we are using it for that purpose we are using it for its highest good.
On another note, the calendar section of my website now features the regular series of classes being offered at the Healing Music Enterprises office here in Louisville. I have the facilities to conduct classes there and will do regularly recurring classes on:
- How to create tapes for surgery
- Using music with pregnancy, childbirth and newborns
- Understanding how music affects the Mind-Body-Spirit
- Toning, Chanting, and Drumming for Health
- Using Music with Alzheimer's Patients
These classes will be offered on demand with a minimum of four people necessary to have a class. Each class will be 2-3 hours in length. Class will be held every other Friday morning, Saturday afternoon, and Sunday evenings. Private sessions can also be arranged. Call 502-895-7688 to register.
Alice H. Cash, Ph.D., LCSW
Question of the Month
My question is regarding my alarm clock. Waking up to a buzz or other loud
noise is a terrible way to start my day. And as much as I lock, rock and
roll, it is too aggressive to wake up to as well. When I wake up to a
distressing noise, the rest of my day seems frenetic often. I want to wake
up to something that gets me started slowly and in a relaxed way. Any
suggestions? Thank you.
Paul in Louisville
A: Dear Paul,
A. I'm very sympathetic to your dilemma Paul and I agree that waking up to a loud buzz or ringing sound is an terrible way to start one's day. I suggest you invest in a decent clock radio that you can set on the classical station. That's what I do and I set the volume loud enough to awaken me but not to jolt me awake. They also make clock radio's with CD players and you can chose what CD you want to awaken you, anything from "Air on the G String" to "Enya" or perhaps some nice English folksongs. You needn't suffer through bells or buzzers for another day!
Your Question to the ChantDoc!
My Calendar has been updated with projected new workshops, classes and presentations, including a tour to Hawaii this coming May. Please go to http://www.healingmusicenterprises.com/calendar.html to read about the coming events.
Recently I travelled to Spartanburg, S.C. to do a long-awaited two-day workshop for Spartanburg Regional Hospital System. We had an outstanding crowd on both days and listened to lots of good music as well as learned about Music in the Hospital Setting and Behavioral Health on the first day, and Music with Pediatrics and Geriatrics on the second day. The audience was filled with nurses, social workers, music therapists, chaplains and others! Please go to the web-site section entitled Testimonials to read some of the evaluations. I was quite honored and flattered by the response. I was also pleased by the number of individuals in the audience that were willing to get up and share their own personal stories of music and healing, both personally and professionally. Free books and tapes from the chantdoc were given out and I do hope to return to that area of the country in the near future!
Listening Training and Music Education
II. This month's special article is taken from "Why Music Ed" which comes
out weekly in e-mail form. If you'd like to subscribe to this newsletter, just send an e-mail to
Different types of music reach and stimulate different parts of the
brain. There is music that provides physical energy to the body, and
music that provides mental energy to the mind. Music with the heavy
beat, such as rock, rap or techno, stimulates the body primarily
through the vestibular system. [The vestibular system, regulated by
the inner ear, measures body movement and position and controls
balance.] Like it or not, this music "gets into us," often to the
point of being invasive or even aggressive. Music for the mind, on
the other hand, primarily stimulates the cortex via the cochlea. [The
cochlea/cochlear system of the ear measures the pitch, timbre, and
attack of sounds.] In this kind of music, there is less emphasis on
the beat and more on melody. The richer the music is in high
harmonics, the more mental energy it provides. Music for violin is at
the top of the chart.
Both types of music have a purpose, but they need to be used
appropriately. I would never recommend using Mozart's music or
Gregorian chants for aerobic exercise classes, but I would also
never recommend doing homework while listening to rock or rap.
Music is neither "all rhythm" nor "all melody." By definition, it is
a composite of both. Most music, however, exhibits a clear
predominance of one or the other. At one extreme there is music with
little or no beat or tempo, such as the earlier mentioned Gregorian
Chants or Tibetan "ohms." This music is intended for meditation and
spiritual work. It is the quintessential "music of the mind." At the
other end of the spectrum there is rap, an almost exclusively
vestibular music - a music of the body, by the body, and for the body.
The beated monotone voice of the rap singer has no melodic line and
only minimal pitch differentiation.
A music teacher once asked me how he could develop music appreciation
among students who are "into" rap with the exclusion of all other
kinds of music. The answer was expanding their listening to a wider
range of the auditory spectrum. I am very aware that this is easier
said than done because rap music requires virtually no listening skill
to be enjoyed. Its impact on the body is such that it "gets into you"
- whether you want it to or not. In the following story, I will
demonstrate that with skill and patience it is possible to open the
ear. I will also show that the "payback" is well worth the effort.
A few years ago I met Walter Bahn, Benedictine monk and former
music director of a cathedral in San Francisco. He now works as a
social worker in the Dominican Harlem of Manhattan, where
community programs are available to keep children off the streets.
One such program includes an initiation to singing and chanting
which, if successful, would enable the children to join a church
I was fascinated by the approach he developed to sensitize children
who knew nothing about music other than rap. In the beginning, the
children had no sense of tonal differentiation whatsoever. To see if
they would change pitches, Walter had them imitate motorcycles or fire
truck sirens. While they could do this, they were still unable to
measure their pitch accurately. To help them, he used hand signs
invented in the teaching of Gregorian chant. The hand signs are very
simple: for DO the child points to the navel; for RE, to the middle of
the chest; for MI, to the chin; for FA to the nose; and so on. The
method is not unlike Kodaly's hand signals. Both are excellent
multi-sensory approaches which use awareness. Adding to the teaching
of music, both movement and singing reinforce the vestibular,
proprioceptive [internal stimuli generated by the body to regulate
itself], tactile and visual stimuli which reinforce and develop
auditory cochlear-vestibular integration - so important in the
development of listening.
I met Walter at a time when he was searching for other
techniques...that might speed up the children's progress. At that
time, it was taking him several months to bring these children from
a completely amusical mode to singing and chanting in a well-
established choir. During this process, dramatic changes were
taking place in the children's personal, social and academic lives.
Those participating in his choir program were staying out of
trouble, were attending school, and were improving their marks.
In short, the more their musical abilities, (and hence, listening
skills) developed, the more integration, self control and direction
they acquired. Some of them are now studying at Harvard,
Columbia, and West Point. Walter Bahn offers a beautiful
illustration of what a music educator can do to improve listening
and turn lives around.
SOURCE: "Listening Training and Music Education" by Paul
Madaule. Published in Early Childhood Connections: Journal of
Music and Movement-Based Learning, Vol. 4, No. 2, Spring 1998.
IN THIS EDITION
I. Editorial: Olympic Music
II. Ask the Chantdoc: FAQ's
III. News and Events: Updated Calendar
IV. Special Topic: SINGING, MUSICAL ABILITY, AND SUCCESS