Does Size Matter?

What’s the Difference: Orchestra, Symphony, and Philharmonic?

The Dilemma: So are the musicians where you’ve been dragged part of an orchestra, a symphony, or a philharmonic?
And more important, is it intermission yet?

People You Can Impress: guys named Ludwig, Wolfgang, or Dmitri

The Quick Trick: All symphonies are orchestras, but only the big orchestras are symphonies.

Full orchestra: strings, winds, brass, harp, percussion — this group fills the stage.

Chamber Orchestra: strings, winds, sometimes brass, occasional harp, maybe percussion

Chamber Ensemble:  One per instrument from 6 – 11

Quintet: 5 musicians – brass, woodwinds, strings with piano, mixed ensemble

Quartet: this shows a standard string quartet.  Can be 4 winds, 4 brass, 4 percussion, or a mix.

Wind Trio:  flute/basoon/oboe (shown) or oboe, clarinet, bassoon
or any mix of instruments — adds up to THREE (3) – hence a Trio

AND, what about a band, concert band and wind ensemble?

Concert Band: all winds (woodwinds/brass), string bass, percussion


Concert Band: all winds (woodwinds/brass), string bass, percussion, sometimes a harp

Marching Band


a Band — many varieties.

Image result for band


Bye Bye Box

This summer I did a “reboot” for my brain.   My mind had been bombarded for years with poison darts and digs to my spirit. Since my brain has been boosted, I’m ready to embark on a sensory safari, prepare to launch, my long-lasting legacy – by offering my expertise in creativity, observation, insight, and idea implementation.


Many people fit in the box. Some people feel boxed-in.

A few people think outside-the-box.

I think about boxes. I build boxes. I certainly don’t “fit in” the box. Are you aware of my previous boxes? Did you notice my new business boxes?

What will I create as my future un-box?

Creative Coaching Company

Would you like to go outside your “inner-box” and discover the life you were designed to live?


Color Scales – Part 3

Painting with Color Scales
by Joey Howell (c) 2007

One way I narrow the choice down is simply to decide whether my painting will be warm or cool. A southwest desert landscape at midday will probably make me think of a warm or hot color, like yellow-orange; if I were painting a human figure and wanted to convey a down or depressed feeling, I might choose (…wait for it…) blue.

Sometimes I already have a musical sound in mind, with its own scale, or more correctly, its own mode (see below). If I have a particular mode in mind and one or more colors that I want to include, then the mental exercise of finding a color-mode satisfying all the requirements can be quite challenging. For example, say I want a major color scale with both red and red-violet in it. Well, there are only two choices: red major and blue-green major.

Sometimes the answer to the question, “What key should I use?” is rather less analytic and more subjective. You choose the key that you like at that particular moment, for whatever particular reason you have. Sure, I let my brain do a little work on the problem, because that’s fun and can be helpful, but sometimes, in the end, it’s my heart, or my gut, that decides, or some other internal “craving” for one color or another.

How do you actually use a color-scale in a painting? Here is an easy example. Without thinking about it too much, I choose a color. Say, blue-green. This is my root color. Now I write down the colors of the blue-green major scale using the formula above: blue-green, blue-violet, red-violet, red, orange, yellow, green. Then I create a 4-color chord, á la the description of triads above, except extended by one note. The resulting chord is blue-green, red-violet, orange, green. Borrowing from music nomenclature, I name this chord Blue-green Major7. Now I can create an abstract painting depicting this color-chord. I take each color of chord in turn and apply it to the canvas, a splash of thin wash here, a bold slash there, generally letting the each color dry before applying the next color. I try to emphasize the root color, blue-green in this case, perhaps by using large blotches of saturated color. At the same time, I try to balance all the colors, just as I would try to balance the notes of a guitar chord, so each is distinct, but not overpowering. Sometimes it takes a few rounds of applying the colors, but the result can be a very cool-looking, simple idea.

A slightly more elaborate example is using a color-scale for a figure painting or still life. For a nude figure, I would use the different chords from the scale harmonization for different elements of the figure. I might use the 3- or 4-note chord based on the root note of the scale for the face, the chord built from the 2th note of my scale for an arm, and the chord built on the 5th note for a leg. So using the scale of blue-green major as the example, the face would be blue-green, red-violet, orange, green. The arm would be blue-violet, red, yellow, blue-green. The leg would be orange, green, blue-violet, red. The bump and hollow riff is extremely useful in drawing nude figures or animals, so I always look for these shapes in my models and feature them in the painting, like in the upper arm or knee. Applying the first element of Synchromism, I would try to depict advancing planes in warm colors and receding planes in cool colors. So if the face is looking out at the observer, I might use orange for the nose, because it sticks out, red-violet under the eyes and blue-green for the sides of the cheeks.

So why use color scales in the first place? Unless one is interested in music as well as painting, there may be no good reason. For me, it gives a way to use my knowledge of musical scales as an analog to understanding color. By mapping my knowledge of music notes onto the color wheel, I have a better handle on the relationships between colors, how to flow smoothly from one set of colors to  another in a painting. I use my musical sense to tell me when I should abandon my scale and “go outside”, when and how to create tension/release. Also, by limiting myself to the colors of my chosen scale, I free myself to be expressive in other ways. Most importantly, I can use my ability to generate musical ideas to suggest corresponding color ideas to try.

It is important to point out that the use of color scales is just a tool. I spend a lot of time thinking about music scales, but when I am actually playing music, I am not thinking about the key and scale I am in; I’m just playing, but my knowledge and experience of scales influences how I play. In the same way, when I am painting, I am not thinking about my color scale, I just have those colors on my palette and no others (except white). I am therefore freer to explore other variables.

Is there really any connection at all between the 12 colors of the wheel and the 12 musical notes, or indeed between musical and visual arts whatsoever? It’s debatable. There are lots of differences in the way we perceive and understand pitch and color, and in the way they affect our emotions. In my heart, I feel such a connection exists, and that color scales are a great way for me to start exploring it.

Color Scales – Part 2

Painting with Color Scales
by Joey Howell (c) 2007

So, how does one create a “color scale”? First, choose a predominant “key” color, for example, red. Then, map the colors of the wheel onto notes of the piano keyboard, starting with the key color at C.

Red = C

Red-orange = C#

Orange = D

Yellow-orange = D#

Yellow = E

Yellow-green = F

Green = F#

Blue-green = G

Blue = G#

Blue-violet = A

Violet = A#

Red-violet = B

What is the musical major scale and where did it come from? Many people know the major scale as do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti and back to do. The major scale dates from the time of Pythagoras, the Greek mathematician. Its mathematical/physical basis, as illuminated by Pythagoras, is very fascinating but beyond our current scope. What gives the major scale its characteristic sound is its interval structure. The interval (difference in pitch) structure of any musical major scale (regardless of its key) is whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, whole step, half step, where a whole step means skipping over 1 note, like from C to D, skipping C#, and a half step is going from one note to the next, like from C to C# or D# to E. For those less familiar with the piano keyboard, the notes that do not have the “#” or “sharp” sign after the letter are called the “natural” notes, or the “white keys”; those notes with the “#” sign are the “black keys” of the keyboard or “sharp” notes. The sharp notes can also be written with the flat (b) sign, viz. C#=Db; and, sometimes there is a good reason to use one or the other. To avoid confusion, I’ll only use the sharp sign (#). Note that there is only a half step jump from E to F, and from B to C; there is no sharp note between them. Thus the notes of the C major scale are C,D,E,F,G,A,B then back to C, in other words, the “white keys” starting on C.

Now having mapped the key color of red to the keyboard note of C, we can name the notes in the color-scale of red major: red, orange, yellow, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet and red-violet. These colors will now make up the color palette for a painting. The colors are almost always used pure, never mixed. The value of the color can be raised or lowered. The colors are deployed in separate, discrete, but possibly overlapping patches. According to Tudor-Hart, “color melodies” can be generated by spacing colors out, separated by neutral ground. Furthermore, “color chords” can be composed by the juxtaposition of particular colors from the scale. For example, the root, or “tonic”, chord in the musical key of C major is C-E-G, the C major triad. (The word triad is used here in the musical rather than the color-harmony sense.) In the example of the color key of red major, the root chord would be red, yellow, blue-green. This color triad, juxtaposing these colors, can then be used to emphasize the emotional, psychological content of an important area of the painting, for example, the face of a figure.

Other chord triads besides the root chord can also be generated. To form a triad, you take any note from the scale, skip over a note, take the next note, skip a note, then take the next note. For example, you start with G, skip A, take B, skip C, and take D, resulting in the triad G-B-D. Generating chords in this manner is called harmonizing the major scale.

Any color can be chosen as the dominant key color, so how do you choose? Stanton Macdonald-Wright believed that each color key was imbued with its own emotional and psychological qualities and impact. He lays these out in his book, A Treatise on Color. He actually builds these meanings up from one simple axiom: Yellow = Light, Red = Strong, Blue = Shadow. Proceeding from there, Orange = Red +Yellow, or Strong-Light, Violet = Red+Blue, or Strong-Shadow, Green = Yellow+Blue, or Neutrality (Light+Shadow). He then associates these attributes of the colors themselves to psychological/emotional states of the mind, deeming some color keys suitable for some subjects and unsuitable for others.
I personally find this last bit a little too subjective and restrictive.

Color Scales – Part 1

Painting with Color Scales
by Joey Howell (c) 2007

I came to painting rather late in life; indeed I had been a serious, practicing musician for over 40 years when I first even attempted to draw with a pencil. So when I finally took up painting, I was very eager to bring as much as possible of my knowledge and experience as a musical artist over to my practice as a visual artist. At the time, I had just seen an exhibition of Synchromist paintings by Stanton Macdonald-Wright, and I felt that his use of “color scales” was a perfect way to tap that reservoir of ability. So, at least in some of my work, I have adopted the color-scale approach to painting. In this article, I will give a very brief sketch of the history and basic elements of Synchromism, followed by a more in-depth description of one of those elements: color scales.


Synchromism was an art movement based on the concept of painting “with color”. The movement had only two members, Americans Stanton Macdonald-Wright (1890-1973) and Morgan Russell (1886-1953). Their first showing of Synchromist paintings was in Munich in 1913. Russell abandoned Synchromism in 1916; Wright, however, painted many of his most compelling canvases in the late teens and 20s, holding to the Synchromist principles into the early 1930s. He remained a color-painter throughout his life and returned to use of color-scales in his later years.

The basic elements of Synchromism are:

  1. Use of color alone to define form and space, based on the well-known psycho-visual phenomenon that warm colors (red, orange,      yellow) appear to advance and cool colors (green, blue, violet) to recede in the visual field.
  2. Application of “color-scales”, directly related to musical scales, to create the color scheme, and thus, the emotional impact in a painting. More on color scales follows below.
  3. Form based on the “principal rhythm”, also called the “hollow and bump”, consisting of 2 contraposed curves, expressed as ( ). This fundamental physical tension is reiterated over and over in synchromist work.

Color scales

What exactly is a “color scale”? It is a set of some number of distinct colors. By “distinct” I mean different in hue, not merely in value; for example, a pink made by mixing red and white is not considered distinct from red, whereas orange is considered distinct from red. How many is “some number”? Well, with a few exceptions, in the world of music, scales generally consist of 5-7 notes chosen from the so-called chromatic scale, which encompasses all the notes (see below). So, could you just take any old 5-7 notes or colors at random and make a “scale”? Well, yes, you could. And you might get really interesting results. However, there is also a more systematic approach, primarily based on musical major scales, which makes color scales much more useful in my visual artistic process.

Color scales were primarily the invention of Canadian Percyval Tudor-Hart (1873-1954), who taught both Wright and Russell in Paris. Tudor-Hart related the color wheel directly to the musical chromatic scale.

The basic idea is as follows:  The “standard” paint color wheel consists of 12 colors: the 3 primaries, red, yellow, blue; the 3 secondaries, orange, green, violet; and, 6 tertiaries, made by mixing a primary and one of its adjacent secondaries, for example, red-orange (tertiary), a mixture of red (primary) and orange (secondary). There is some confusion about the names of the colors; for example, some authors name the primaries magenta, yellow, cyan. Likewise, the western musical chromatic scale has 12 notes: C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, B. We tend to call it the “western chromatic” scale, but in reality, the same basic 12-note gamut has arisen in virtually every musical culture throughout the world.

Why there should be a common 12-note scale, and why there is a common 12-color wheel, throughout the whole world, are fascinating questions in and of themselves.   So let’s see. Twelve colors and twelve notes. Coincidence…..? Hmmm.

Capture Creativity

You can enhance your creativity by surrounding yourself with diverse stimuli–and, even more important, by changing those stimuli regularly.  Diverse and changing stimuli promote creativity because, like resurgence, they get multiple behaviors competing with each other.

Here’s the great news: Research shows that everyone has creative abilities. The mechanisms that underlie the creative process operate all the time in each of us. Every one of us has the creative potential of Mozart or Picasso or Edison or Einstein. To boost your creative output, capture your new ideas as they occur, challenge yourself in order to get ideas competing, broaden your training so that many new repertoires of behavior will be available to compete, and surround yourself as much as possible with diverse and ever-changing stimuli.

Anyone can master these creative strategies. They’re all that stand between you and the most creative people in history.

Something called “The Shifting Game” uses a team optimally to increase creative output. Two teams are selected from the larger audience. One is instructed to stay together for a 20-minute brainstorming session. The second team is instructed to “shift” twice from five- minute private work sessions to five-minute team meetings. Each team must generate names for a new soft drink, and each has a total of 20 minutes In which to accomplish the task.

The “shifting” group typically generates twice as many Ideas as the brainstorming group. Why? Because creativity is always an individual process, and social disapproval is the major deterrent to creativity our entire lives. Groups are far better at selecting good ideas than at generating them.

Music for Minds

Yesterday I had the pleasure of “meeting” someone online who has the title “Sound Frequency Practitioner.”  We met because she uses a Korg DT-12 metronome in her practice.  I prefer the Korg AT-12 model more.

“Our voice has the ability to keep us well physically, mentally and emotionally.  If we are missing certain notes in our voice then we are out of balance in these areas.  If a person is missing F in the voice then that person will have corresponding physical and emotional problems.  For instance the note of F corresponds to the kidneys, bladder and heart.” Joy eagerly shares her insight.

Neuro Note Chart
This chart shows the correlation between notes in a scale and related physical and emotional health considerations.

Joy continues to write “Do you remember how the voice of a depressed person sounds?  They talk in a monotone.  Their voice has only a few notes, no life, no energy, just like their physical body.
Twenty years ago scientists discovered a link between depression and cancer.”

She continues, “Agents of healing need to begin to test their client’s voices and teach them to tone these weak and missing notes.  Once the person is healed then the person can maintain that healing by sounding all 12 notes in their voice. What is the significance of 12?  This number is powerful.  There were 12 disciples, 12 zodiac signs (12 fruits), 12 months, 12 colors, 12 notes in the musical scale, the Tree of life bore 12 fruits, King Arthur had 12 knights, and there were the 12 tribes of Israel.”

“Scientists say that the frequency of the earth is measured and that the earth is vibrating at 7.83 Hertz.  Find out more detailed information about how scientists and spiritual leaders determine the Earth’s frequency.”

Ms Wallen offers Vibrational Acceleration Workshops about frequencies for healing emotional, mental and spiritual toxicity and how to do voice analysis in order to determine weak or missing frequencies.

The Write Words

We bloggers have a mission of providing information to the world wide web (www) of followers. “Posting” is mostly done for altruistic purposes.   I started a forum for oboists back in 2005 but wasn’t able to keep the momentum going.  There were too many distractions and my audience was not quite ready to take the time to read and respond.   What has changed?   The speed at which we can access the information and the popularity of the medium.

Then, I found a better medium to do writing and responding — a blog.  A blog allows me to keep in contact with my “fans” and meets the needs of my audience of readers.  Posts are limited in length to match the level of time people can dedicate to being online reading.   I’m able to cover a vast amount of topics which keeps my inquisitive mind intact while healing from losses in my life.

Almost anyone who has experience and information to share can start a blogsite and you can find a blog about almost any topic known to “womankind.”   My mother (83) has just begun her journey in the online writing world after self-publishing 4 picture books, 1 chapter book, and one personal collection of essays.

Now she gets a chance to do what she always claimed was one of her best skills: editing other people’s writing.  (She will probably find something to edit in this post . . .)   My mom was educated in the days of the one room schoolhouse when the class sizes were small and/or integrated with classmates of more skills.   She was always advanced in her reading/writing/grammer.   The grammatical and spelling errors that are prevalant in newspapers and published books astound her and she has a venue to voice her concerns and comments.

Tonight I will continue with my writing and introduce a series of articles that present the power of music for healing.   See you back here soon . . .


Music Across the Lifespan

We all develop relationships with music.  Cheryl Dileo

Music enhances every stage of life no matter who we are. There is growing evidence of an in-utero response to music. The startle response is created by loud sounds and according to research, even the young life in the womb responds to these sounds. Infants can accurately identify their mother’s voice. Early on there is discrimination of melodic contour. Between ages 1-2 body movement can be incorporated into the music. It is unknown at what age a child’s brain mechanism impacting music perception and cognition are mature. That is why children need high exposure to a wide variety of sounds while the brain is forging neural networks. By age 4 when the brain’s left hemisphere has had time to develop, rhythm games involving sticks, shakers, tambourines and drums may be used. French composer Francois Couperin declared all children should start music by 6 or 7 and will benefit from a lifetime of enhanced interhemispheric brain activity. MRI studies have shown that the fibers in the corpus callosum which connect the left and right brain hemispheres are as much as 15% wider in musicians compared to non-musicians. Between ages 5-9 is a good time to start music lessons. During adolescent and teen years, young people begin to identify their own preferred styles and forms of music. Exposure to a variety of musical genres at concerts begins to open worlds of possibilities.

Most adolescents or adults can become competent on most instruments with sufficient training and practice. The nonmusical benefits like satisfaction, memory, creativity, relaxation and self-discipline may be as great or greater than the musical skills acquired.

For the elderly music might give an overall sense of wellbeing, providing relaxation and reduction of tension. Music can bring balance to an elder’s lifestyle. Music may arouse and bring recreation and leisure. Participating in musical activities whether singing in a choir or attending a concert can provide opportunities for sociability. Music stimulates connection to people and ideas. Music stimulates long-term memory retrieval and can maintain cognition especially if there are lyrics. Music, used with exercise and activities can strengthen extremity responses. Music is an excellent means of reminiscence, verbal communication and life review.

Music and Biology

Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons and you will find it is to the soul what the water bath is to the body.  Oliver Wendell Holmes

Music has a symbiotic relationship with the body. The body can adapt to the music we hear and the body may influence how music is perceived. When the elements of music are applied appropriately to meet certain goals, the limbic system (emotional centre of the body) receives information which can adjust the physiologic system. Music is one of the most viable resources for putting the body at ease.

The limbic system is made up of a group of interconnected neural structures arranged in border-like fashion at the top of the brainstem surrounding the midline surfaces of the cerebral hemispheres. This system concerns itself with homeostatic processes of body temperature, heart rate, respiration rate, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, acid-base balance, sleep/wake cycles and fight-or-flight survival instincts. This system also moderates survival behaviors like thirst/hunger reflexes, sexual fulfillment drives, competition. Music, in particular melody, appeals to the limbic system. Music is nonverbal so it can move through the brain’s auditory cortex directly to the center of the limbic system. It may be used to calm down sensory input and dispel fears. It may also stimulate the senses and fire up activity. Music provides an environment of excitability or reassurance.

It is also this system that tags information for storage (hippocampus). When we hear music, our brains try to make an association through whatever visual, auditory and other sensory cues accompany it. We try to contextualize the sounds into our schema and eventually, we create memory links between a particular set of notes and a particular place, time or set of events. Music becomes cross-coded with the events of our lives. That is why music easily triggers associations. Hearing a melody years after an event takes place may “re-member” the neurological links or groupings and surface memories.

Music engages the auditory system (hearing) which is a vital connection to the vestibular system (balance, movement). Rhythm is a stimulus that instigates movement and can help integrate and organize the sensory system. Many experts suggest that it is the thythm of the music or the beat that has the calming effect on us although we may not be very conscious about it. Rhythm is the most important musical element that the body detects, attends to, and resonates with through neural entrainment. Entrainment is the rhythmic manifestation of resonance. With entrainment, a stronger external pulse does not just activate another pulse but actually causes the latter to move out of its own resonant frequency to match it. Music alters the performance of the nervous system primarily because of entrainment.Furthermore, electromyographic (EMG) studies of the electrical activity of muscle function show that auditroy cues can arouse and raise the excitability of spinal motor neurons. For example when you listen to a fast beat song, many times your foot will start to beat automatically in rhythm to that beat and then your heartbeat will follow. Music therapist Dorita Berger claims that internalizing rhythms through marching, beating a drum or tambourine will assist in body coordination, proprioceptive-tactile feedback and motor planning. Listening for rhythmic changes may bring about auditory focus, tracking, sound tolerance and depth perception.

There is sufficient evidence that music influeces the cardiovascular and respiratory systems and reduces anxiety, heart and respiratory rates. One study took forty patients who had recently suffered hear attacks and exposed them to “relaxing music” Results indicated that heart rate, respiratory rate and measurable states of anxiety were significantly reduced. Another study reported systolic blood pressure was significantly reduced in nine subjects who listened to music at 55 beats per second. Still another study reported that among patients who had been recently admitted to a coronary care unit after suffering heart attacks and exposed to music for 2 days had fewer complications than those who were not.

Studies also suggest that soothing music can affect stress and anxiety and influence our immune system. When the brain attends music and the auditory input is “safe”, neurotransmitters such as dopamine and sedating chemicals that calm and minimize systemic excitability are discharged. Whether it is the direct effect of the music or the effect of distraction, the person may momentarily forget her fear and anxiety.

Music and Spiritual Care

For the human heart and mind, music is a gift that brings hope and comfort through even the darkest times. In the midnight hour of the soul, when we feel most besieged by grief and alone in sorrow, music offers solace in the recognition that, although the rhythms of our lives fluctuate between joy and despair, the song remains.

Albert Lee Strickland

Music has a capacity to uncover our personal depths and pour completely into the crevices of our unknowns. It reinforces our values and beliefs.

Music can deepen us spiritually because it explores and may even uncover our personal depths. We may perceive ourselves and situations in ways that we don’t normally see them. Music satisfies the senses and emotional need. It may open the door to feelings of safety and greater spiritual experience. Music suggests meditative or quiet states. Music may provide a venue for adoration and worship, an important aspect of spiritual life. The structure of music itself lends itself to forgiveness and conflict resolution. Well designed music has a theme which develops suggestive of conflict and then resolves with a new perspective.

Music has a transcendent capacity. When we listen to soulful music or when we play soulful music, our inner existence immediately climbs up high and enters into something beyond. Music has been called the language of heaven.

In the context of mourning, songs take on the nature of lament, mourning the dead. Certain songs bring to mind memories that refresh our grief. The associative strength of melody may connect us to moments spent with our loved one, including the sounds, smells and feelings surrounding them. Musical lamentation may provide an emotional release for the bereaved. Music can help thaw and awaken paralyzed places and inspire us to begin living. Their may be heightened awareness to the lyrical themes which start us thinking about our own mortality. The strong connective, spiritual nature of music may keep us feeling close to our loved one over time.

Music and Life Care

Death is the one instance in which a picture does not say a thousand words, for in death it is not the disability or disfigurement, but the caresses, the gazes, the meticulous physical tending, the spiritual discoveries and the private emotions—spoken and unspoken—that truly convey what is happening. In the end, it is not the act of dying, but all those final moments of living, that are truly important.   Virginia Morris


Music may be most powerful at end of life. The capacity music has to connect, communicate and companion makes it a peaceful presence for those facing an end of life journey. When we are overcome by grief and sorrow, music offers solace.

Death is another life passage where music can accompany us. In fact it may be most effective during the end of life journey. Relationship completion is a significant part of dying. Palliative doctor, Ira Byock states there are five sentiments that permit relationships to reach completion once they are expressed. These are “I love you”, “thank you”, “forgive me”, “I forgive you” and “good-bye”. Songs can convey these messages more powerfully and completely than words alone. Throughout the ages, songs have been important vehicles for the expression of the deepest human feelings. While the use of sacred songs has reflected the spiritual dimension, it is popular songs that reflect the everyday sentiments of everlasting love, missing a partner, cherishing a friend and gratitude for all that has happened. Songs may help express these five sentiments and be helpful in relationship completion.

There are a number of reasons why music is now being recognized as a complementary treatment in palliation and why music therapists are part of the palliative team. Non-pharmacological strategies like music therapy promote relief in pain and symptom management. Music is used to promote relaxation, to reduce anxiety and to supplement other pain control methods. A terminal illness highlights every psychological dynamic in the person’s life—dysfunctional patterns of behavior, unhealed emotional wounds, troubling relationships and unfulfilled dreams. Music may facilitate accessibility into unresolved aspects of the person’s life. Reminiscence through songs provides life review.

Music may help people cope with loss of control. Songwriting and improvisation may give a sense of empowerment. Music can assist in release and closure by providing hope and dignity.

Introducing music in end of life must first come from a place of love and trust. Each death is unique and there are no formulas or guaranteed outcomes when using music.

Assess: Does the patient have a preference to a certain style of music like country or classical or steel drum? Ask. “Would you like to listen to…?” Or, you might say something like “Here is something that may help you sleep.” Or, “I have found this music very relaxing”. Be sensitive. Music is evocative and for a number of reasons, it may be difficult for a family member to hear a song that surfaces very personal and sometimes private memories or feelings.

Music and Caregiving

Songs are our connections to life. They connect us to our inner world; they bring us closer to others; they keep us company when we are alone. They articulate our beliefs and reaffirm our values. They arouse, they accompany and they release. And as the years pass, our songs bear witness to our lives and give voice to our experiences. They rekindle the past, reflect the present and project the future. Songs weave tales of our joys and sorrow; they express our dreams and disappointments, our fears and triumphs. They are our musical diaries, our life stories. They are the sounds of our development.  Kenneth Bruscia 1989

The healing power of music may bring soothing relief and support to both those who are requiring care and those who offer it. When a loved one or family member gets sick, caregiving becomes a priority. Sometimes, people have to take time off work or even take a leave of absence. The responsibilities become profound—it may even become a full time job for a time. Caregiving may be a chosen profession; the demands, nevertheless may be intense and exhausting. Music may have reciprocal benefit both to the patient and the caregiver

Music is a valuable resource in giving care to those who are sick. Music is a supportive resource. The associations made with music help with reminiscence and self-expression. Music provides background sounds and ambiance in a room that may be sterile or noisy. The interpersonal connection around a song can be strong and lasting. With support, there can be psychosocial benefits. Music can bring soothing relief. Music can affect perceived pain. It may provide a distraction, give the patient a sense of control and may help in relaxation. Slow placed music set at approximately 60 beats per minute stimulates Alpha state, the state of calm and can lessen heart rate and ease agitated breathing. Music can bring spiritual encouragement. A song may offer courage or peacefulness. It may bring comfort and help us to think about true things. Music may help us rise above pain or discomfort. Music can bring care to the caregiver (family, volunteer or professional). Music may provide emotional and spiritual preparation to ease transitions. Song lyrics may help put words around feelings. Music may bring relaxation for deep breathing and de-stressing.

Music may be used therapeutically with specific illnesses. Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and Dementia: Music may give meaning to the environment when other experiences are not understandable. Strokes: Rehabilitation in people who have had strokes can begin as soon as the person is medically stable. Music may restore physical functioning, socialization and emotional well-being in time. Parkinson’s: Music therapy has shown gait improvement in Parkinson’s patients according to a study by Dr. Michael Thaut.

Mood Disorders and Depression: Using music wisely and supportively can help people put words around what they may be feeling. Music may shift a person’s outlook.

Music for Healthcare

My heart which is so full to overflowing, has often been solaced and refreshed by music when sick and weary. Martin Luther (1483-1546)

There are a number of approaches for musical use in health care settings. Any approach relies on the inherent therapeutic possibilites of music to relieve stress, pain and promote well-being. While we often think of music being played in a concert hall, or on the radio or in a classroom, music as therapy is strong. The therapeutic use of music is not new. There are historical accounts of music being used therapeutically over the centuries. In the biblical account of David & Saul, David played his harp for King Saul to lift him out of his depression. In the Ancient Greek culture, Apollo was the god of music and medicine and he used music to drive out disease and return a person to a state of harmony and order. Alexander the Great was restored to sanity by the music of a lyre. Buddhist monks have been singing healing chants for over 2000 years. In 11th century France, “infirmary music” was used by nurses in care for the dying.

There are a number of approaches for musical use in the healthcare setting. Any approach relies on the inherent therapeutic possibilities of music to relieve stress and pain and promote well-being. Each one has distinguishing features. Music therapy involves a therapeutic process, a music therapist, and a relationship that develops through music and the process. Both the music and the therapeutic relationship serve as healing components. In music therapy there is a definable process with clinical goals and outcomes for every session. Music medicine is music used by medical personnel and allied health professionals as an adjunct to various medical treatments or situations. Examples of music medicine interventions include background music in waiting rooms or other areas or vibroacoustic therapy before surgery. Performing Arts medicine is the study and treatment of performance-related medical and psychological problems. For example, tendonitis is a common inflammation for musicians. Repetitive motion day after day for pianists and string players is an occupational hazard. Nodes and other inflammations of the vocal chords would be a common threat to singers. Programmes involving music may be developed by recreational therapists or chaplains or volunteers. The outcomes are often psychosocial and provide an opportunity for the healthcare institution to interface with the community at large.

Music has the capacity to appeal to the whole person and reach into every domain. Music making seems to activate and synchronize neural firing patterns that orchestrate and connect multiple cognitive brain sites. Music may activate areas in our brain most involved in emotional intelligence. Music has the capacity to surface and even unlock feelings that have been buried or traumatized. Music enhances social interaction. The presence of music favors greater person to person interactions and offers participation and engagement. Music may be used to increase attention and focus and regulate behaviors. Music may influence our muscle control and physical strength. Many trainers now use music combined with visualization to regulate movement and report reduced stress, increased focus and better performance times. Music offers intellectual stimulation, order and structure. The transcendent nature of music reaches into the unseen spiritual depths and may bring refreshment, calm, peace.

Music has the power to heal. Music therapist Dr. Deforia Lane says that 30 minutes of a music therapy session can boost the immune function and increase salivary IgA. Studies show that music has the potential to alter moods through lowered heart rate, and decrease the level of the stress hormone cortisol. Music is used as a mood enhancer and regulator. Soothing music may reduce stress and anxiety. This is important because we know that both our immune system and memory is negatively impacted by chronic elevated stress levels. Researchers speculate that excess noise can raise blood pressure by 10%. Depending on the music you choose, music can calm you down or perk you up. Music can impact nearly any kind of blood flow response desired. Respiration is affected by music. Deeper, slower breaths per minute contribute to calmness, emotional control and better metabolism.

Music has spiritual power. According to Helen Bonny a well respected music therapist and creator of the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music (GIM) a psychotherapeutic programme using classical music, music can enhance our present life, enrich it and lead it in fulfilling directions. Music may uncover the depths of our inner person. It may also serve transcendentally and lift our spirits beyond our flesh.

There is an intrinsic quality about music that is social and to be shared. The fact that music is most often performed together in ensembles like bands, choirs and orchestras underlies this musical dynamic. Music is about relationship: among the performers, composers, audience.

Music can bring a sense of belonging especially if you are part of the ensemble. This may provide identity not just as a group but also as an individual and may provide meaning and purpose. The sense of contribution may bring empowerment and even ownership as an individual learns to take responsibility for their part in the music making. The structural nature of music may provide order in disrupted thinking. Music can also provide structure to routines by signaling when something begins or ends or signaling seasonal celebrations. Music provides a sense of enjoyment and enhances life. Listening or actively music-making, you can become more aware of feelings. The familiarity and comfort music offers may ease difficult transitions and support integration into new situations.