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The Sound of Healing: Customize Your Music for Enhanced Well-Being

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The Sound of Healing synopsis (page 158)


Music is the shorthand of emotion. Emotions which let themselves be described in words with such difficulty are directly conveyed to man in music, and in that is its power and significance.

LEO TOLSTOY (1828-1910)

How could music possibly relieve my anxiety when I was looking at an airplane propeller that had stopped rotating and I was 900 feet above the ground? Time passed in a matter of seconds as the airplane dove for the ground. There was no time to use music. In the aftermath, however, music could have reduced my high anxiety, which exploded into anger. Music that followed a special sequence, initially matching my anxiety and anger, followed by more peaceful, then happier, music. I now believe that this kind of music sequencing could have brought my anxiety and anger under control within fifteen minutes.

What music would make me feel better about my boyfriend, who left me for another woman? I was frantic to salvage our love, not willing to let him go. If I had listened to a music tape similarly sequenced as the one above whenever I felt frantic, I could have released that relationship in a matter of days instead of weeks.

Why don't more people like classical music? I was frustrated by this when the growth of the talent agency I had created, which represented only classical ensembles, plateaued, stopped growing. Thus, I started promoting other styles of music?country, bluegrass, and jazz, as well as rock 'n' roll. The musicians I dealt with were fascinating, talented people. Looking back, I now think that because I loosened up my attitudes, business for my classical musicians improved as well. It didn't occur to me at the time that I had been limiting my own musical world, that my beliefs had begun to subtly change. It seemed to be just a business decision.

I've listened to and booked all styles of music. I'm also a professional musician. I was familiar with a wide range of music at an intellectual, professional level, but I wasn't a therapist at that time. It had not occurred to me that I could use music effectively to better my health. Eventually, I intuitively used music to help someone else and that experience began the learning process that has changed my life.
It taught me what, where, when, and how to use music for better health. It taught me what I am now sharing with you-that the world of music we take for granted can become The Sound of Healing.

That initial incident took place nine years ago, during a previous marriage. My husband had required emergency back surgery. We had discovered in the months prior to his surgery that when I played my violin for him at night, he would sleep soundly and wake up without the usual back pain, and would have no need for medication. I played the music he loved to hear?Irish medleys and easy listening, as well as the more challenging classical pieces I liked to play, however, I kept those mellow.

The night before his surgery, I recorded a one-hour tape of my husband's favorites, something he would enjoy listening to after surgery. When he returned to his hospital room, groggy but awake, I immediately put the headphones on his ears and turned on the portable cassette player. The nurse came by every fifteen minutes thereafter to monitor his vital signs. Thirty minutes had passed when she returned with her hypodermic needle to administer the post surgical high blood pressure medication. As she checked his vital signs she looked at the headphones, frowned, and whipped around. "What is he listening to?" she demanded. "Me," I replied timidly. "What do you mean 'me'?" she queried, somewhat upset. "I play the violin. That's me on the tape," I answered. I was embarrassed because the tape wasn't a professional recording.

She responded, "This is impossible. I'm supposed to be giving him medication right now and he doesn't need it!" So I asked, "Isn't that good?" The nurse thought about it and said, "Yes....can I have a copy of that tape?" Then she noted in his medical records that music instead of medication had been used. It didn't occur to me to ask about his pain level because I was not involved in music therapy at the time, and I had no idea that music could have an effect on pain. All I remember is what my husband told me-that an overwhelming sense of peace and well-being came over him while listening to the music.

It is my hope that the information in this book and the techniques for creating your own health-based music plan may help deepen your sense of peace and well-being, expand your capacity to experience love, joy, enthusiasm, and happiness, and control or diminish your anxiety, anger, depression, or grief. The stories herein come from people across the country who have been experiencing such renewal.

The potential combinations of music that can be used to better your physical and psychological health are limitless. New recordings are released daily. This also breeds confusion, as there is so much from which to choose. Also, what worked for your friend won't necessarily work for you. The solution lies in discovering what to look for and when to listen to it. The Sound of Healing focuses on health-effective music listening, and explains what to buy and why, and what to do and when. You will learn, simply and effectively, how to build a music collection for therapeutic benefit.

Annotating and broadening your music library will help you find selections that connect to anxiety, love, or energy and meet the changing demands you face in emotional and physical health. My desire is that you USE this book?USE being the acronym for the method that will help you develop the program that is right for you. The knowledge gained from the book will reinforce your own intuitive knowledge and personal music preferences. I came to learn the same truth myself: Music is a health resource we often don't appreciate, one which can surely help us find new ways to help ourselves and others.

- Judith Pinkerton, MT-BC music therapist-board certified