Dialogue with Alice
This month's ezine features a dialogue with my webmistress and fellow healing expert, June Kaminski, for her site, Healing Intent. We discuss a brief history of music and healing,
the current scientific background to music's healing properties, music at work and in the hospital and how to use music in your own life for health and well being. I hope you enjoy this special feature! We also now offer a Shoppe and Library to help you find the right tools to enrich your lives with music.
Alice, Ph.D., LCSW
To share comments or questions, contact me by
E-mail. Any topic related to music is welcome!
Dialogue with Alice
(from Interview for Healing Intent site)
Q 1. Can you tell our readers how you began to work with music for
I began to use music for healing formally in the Spring of 1991 when I joined the Arts in Medicine Program at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, Dept. of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. I had used music for my own personal health and wellness my whole life, but it wasn't until 1991 that I began to study systematically the history and various approaches and techniques to healing with music. I was actually surprised to find how much had been written on these topics and how much was being taught by various people around the U.S. and in other parts of the world.
Q 2. People have used music in their routine lives from the beginning of mankind. What sort of benefits or effects has this practice given them without them even knowing it?
Interesting question! I think most people believe that they try music healing for specific problems but you're right in saying that they often receive benefits that they're not even aware of. Probably the the common benefit that they wouldn't be aware of would be vibrational healing benefits which simply come from the vibrations of certain acoustic (usually) instruments listened to live or through very good headphones or speakers. It really pays to have the best sound system one can afford because the quality difference is amazing.
Generally speaking, people put on music in their cars or homes or offices thinking that it's just going to be kind of quiet distraction, like wallpaper. However, every now and then a song will play that can truly touch them at a heart or soul level and change the course of their day for the better. Rarely do people stop and analyze why that song affected them so profoundly but usually its because of past associations the individual has with the music. Music and associations are very powerful!
Q 3. Scientific research has been done in the last century that seems to explain why music is good for us. Can you explain some of this to us in simple terms?
One of the most basic principles of music therapy is the principle of entrainment. This tells us that the strong pulse of music causes our body rhythms to synchronize with the music. In other words, our heartbeat and breathing may be weak and erratic and shallow because of illness and/or depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, etc. but listening to some favorite rhythmic music for just 15-20 minutes can make a difference in how the body feels. When the body begins to perk up, the mind and spirit begin to perk up. The music one chooses is entirely personal; anything from Bach fugues to Strauss waltzes to Sousa marches. Anything that is rhythmic and steady works to get the bio-rhythms stabilized.
Another discovery that I find exciting is that music can be so very useful with surgery. In a nutshell, using music before surgery decreases the need for anxiety meds like valium and other benzodiazepines; music during surgery eliminates the need for as much anesthesia, from which the patients must also recover; and music in the recovery room eliminates the need for as much pain medication. In nearly ever medical setting where music is being offered through headphones, the music is substituting for needing SO MUCH medication.
Q 4. I know music is now often used in hospitals. Can you explain why?
In addition to the above examples, we know that a hospital is a terrible place to get any rest. Music offered through headphones can enable a patient to get some relief from all of the noises that permeate the halls of the hospital like overhead paging, ambulances coming in and out, machines that the patient might be hooked up to like IV's, and other patients either in the room or down the hall. Listening to self-selected music through headphones gives the patient a feeling of some control over his environment and that is important when the patient otherwise feels so powerless.
Q 5. Would you recommend having music playing in an office or other work setting? How about in schools?
Well, in terms of an office, it would depend on how much privacy you have. If you're just in a large room with lots of other people it wouldn't work. If you have a cubicle and want to use headphones it could work. If you have a private office, as I do here in the hospital, it's totally a personal decision. I oftentimes listen to CD's or even the radio in my office while I'm on the computer. Right now I'm listening to an R & B station that I find very relaxing. Other times I'll put on Enya or Celtic music; sometimes a movie soundtrack such as "City of Angels."
Music in school is a very broad topic. It would vary greatly depending on the grade level and the size and type of students in the class. Research has suggested strongly that having classical music playing quietly in the background can be beneficial; same with Gregorian chant. My daughters had a teacher in 4/5 grade that played "New Age" music and lots of other kinds of music. They complained at home but secretly I really think they liked it. I think classical music played quietly can be an organizing factor for students' brains. It can also expose many students to a type of music they might not hear otherwise and instill a love for it in them that they'll be happy for later.
Q 6. This site is focused on Healing Intent. How could our readers intentionally use music to promote good health and well being?
I like to suggest that people begin making a list of their favorite relaxing music and their favorite energizing music to start with. It's a very good way to just begin to start to think about what kind of music appeals to you most. Try making some tapes of your own to drive to work by, for example, if you have a long drive. Or make a tape or your favorite music for some long occasion you're dreading like a wait in an office of some kind. There's a real feeling of accomplishment, more so that just buying a tape or CD. The kids know how to burn their own CD's in a second and we can actually learn that too. I'm now 54 and ½ and I'm learning! Just thinking about what music you're choosing at bedtime or when you walk into your home can have a tremendous effect on your mood the next day or that evening.
Q 7. If someone has a chronic illness, can music help relieve symptoms?
Symptoms, yes. Of course music is not likely to cure anything, but if nothing else, music has great power of distraction. Music can certainly distract, it can also give a great sonic massage. It can also lift one's spirits tremendously. Today happens to be the Martin Luther King holiday and we're having fabulous, upbeat gospel music on our radio stations all day. Luckily, I don't have a chronic illness, but if I did I don't think I could keep from feeling better for a little while after hearing some of this glorious music!
Q 8. I know that you often teach toning and chanting in some of your workshops. Can you share the rationale for learning these practices?
Toning is one of the most ancient vocal practices known to humans and is a way to vibrate the entire body from the outside in. With practice, one can learn to vibrate, through the use of elongated vowel tones, every part of the body and theoretically even individual organs, for the purpose of healing. (this is a very abbreviated rationale) Chanting is also a very ancient practice and has existed in some form in nearly every civilization. Chanting focuses the mind while affirming a positive belief system. Chants bond and bind people together to strength their unity of purpose.
Q 9. What sort of workshops and seminars do you offer?
I present workshops, seminars, and keynote speeches on all topics related to "The Healing Power of Music." Specifically I do many presentations related to music with Alzheimers patients, childbirth and with newborns, music and surgery, and music with anxiety and depression. My workshops and seminars are typically either a half-day or a full-day. I travel all over the country as well as Canada, Hawaii and Europe!
Q.10. How would someone engage your workshop services?
There is a form on my website or you can all me or e-mail me directly.
Q 11. I also know that you have created some tools that people can use in their daily lives (books, tapes, etc. ) Can you describe these?
My book is called "Notes on Tuning Your Life with Music." This is a short book , 34 pp, and gives an overview of how music can affect every area of your life, both with wellness and with healing effects. I also created a "sampler" CD to go along with it that includes many of the songs that I play for the Alzheimers patients here at the hospital, lullabies that I teach mothers of newborns and chants that I teach patients in workshops on empowerment.
I also have tapes on "The Use of Toning and Chanting with Addictions," "Music for Surgery" (2-tape set) "The Healing Power of Music" (a lecture with musical examples) "Healing with Music:Why Mozart?" and "The Use of Music with Alzheimers Patients" (music and interview).
Q 12. Should people listen to certain types of music? Or is it better to listen to what they prefer, to what moves them?
People should always listen to the type of music they prefer. Within that type, there are quite a few parameters that I talk about in previous e-zine articles and in my book.
Q 13. Do you work with people of all ages? Is there a specific age group that responds best to music?
I work with people of all ages and find that all ages respond to music.
You're quite welcome!
IN THIS EDITION
I. Editorial: Dialogue with Alice
II. Special Topic: Healing Intent Interview
III. Updated Calendar: Coming Events in 2003
This month we have two new tape sets to offer: a) Music for Surgery and b) Music for Alzheimers and Dementia Patients. People have been waiting patiently for the surgery tapes and I am thrilled to announce that they are finally out! This is a two-tape set, one of which is an interview with me by Dr. Crystal Sahner and contains all of the questions and answer I usually get at my workshops about why music is so important to have before, during and after surgery, what the research has found, and how to use the music and talk to your doctor about it. The second tape is the music itself with me playing pieces from the Baroque era and my own arrangement of "The Gift to be Simple."
Healing Music Services
Dr. Cash is available for seminars, workshops, classes and other group and individual instruction in using music
for healing and promoting health and wellbeing. Find out how to book her amazing services by going to:
Louisvillle Area Health Professionals: Opportunity!!
Dr. Cash offers classes on a regular basis on:
- How to create music tapes for surgery
- Using music with pregnancy, childbirth and newborns
- Understanding how music affects the Mind-Body-Spirit & applying this to practice
- Toning, Chanting, and Drumming for Health
- Using Music with Alzheimer's Patients
2 -3 hour long classes are offered on demand for four people or more. Class can be booked for Fri am, Sat pm,
& Sun eves. Also private sessions.
Call 502-895-7688 to register or Email me .
Healing Music Products
Dr. Cash offers affordable products to help you reap the benefits of music and healing.
Products available include audio tapes, special music sampler CD and book as well as her ebook & Mp3 packages.
Each product is expertly created to offer you sound tools for therapeutic music sessions.
"Notes for Tuning Your Life with Music"
(available as soft cover book or ebook,
with CD or Mp3 music supplement)
BOOK & CD-
(Book - $14.95; CD - $14.95 or Book/CD Combo - $24.95 & S/H)
EBOOK & Mp3s
(Ebook - $8.95; Mp3s - $5/set)
Alzheimer's & Dementia Collection
AUDIOTAPES - $10 & S/H
Tape titles include:
The Healing Power of Music
Toning & Chanting with Addictions
Why Mozart? The Research on Mozart and Learning
The Use of Music with Alzheimers and other Dementias
To order, go to Dr. Cash's products page at:
Coming events for 2003 have been posted on the site Calendar Section. Come take a peek!
A color biography sums up Dr. Cash's Services: