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Music heals.

beardedbruce 12 May 09 - 03:44 PM
Wesley S 12 May 09 - 03:59 PM
Rapparee 12 May 09 - 04:45 PM
GUEST,lox 12 May 09 - 04:59 PM
GUEST,lox 12 May 09 - 05:07 PM
Eve Goldberg 12 May 09 - 05:37 PM
Bill D 12 May 09 - 05:46 PM
open mike 13 May 09 - 01:10 AM
open mike 13 May 09 - 01:12 AM
Dorothy Parshall 13 May 09 - 01:22 AM
open mike 13 May 09 - 02:40 AM
Bert 13 May 09 - 03:53 AM
maeve 13 May 09 - 05:01 AM
Dorothy Parshall 13 May 09 - 10:17 AM
Dorothy Parshall 13 May 09 - 10:32 AM
Ebbie 13 May 09 - 10:39 AM
Dorothy Parshall 13 May 09 - 10:55 AM
bankley 13 May 09 - 11:18 AM
Mrrzy 13 May 09 - 11:37 AM
katlaughing 13 May 09 - 12:54 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 13 May 09 - 05:03 PM
katlaughing 13 May 09 - 07:02 PM
Ron Davies 13 May 09 - 10:12 PM
Dorothy Parshall 14 May 09 - 12:54 AM
Eve Goldberg 14 May 09 - 01:28 PM
Ebbie 02 Jun 09 - 01:47 AM
jacqui.c 02 Jun 09 - 07:11 AM
Lizzie Cornish 1 02 Jun 09 - 06:30 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 02 Jun 09 - 09:36 PM
katlaughing 02 Jun 09 - 10:36 PM
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Subject: BS: Music heals.
From: beardedbruce
Date: 12 May 09 - 03:44 PM

The power of music: It's a real heart opener

Story Highlights
Music, like laughter, opens up blood vessels and produces protective chemicals

Constricted vessels can lead to high blood pressure, increase heart attack risk

Hospitals across the country use music therapy to help patients heal


updated 9:14 a.m. EDT, Mon May 11, 2009

By Val Willingham
CNN Medical Producer
   
(CNN) -- If you didn't catch the white coat and the stethoscope, you might take Dr. Mike Miller for a middle-aged rocker, roaming the halls of the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.

For years, Miller, a research cardiologist, has been studying the effects of happiness -- or things that make people happy -- on our hearts. He began his research with laughter, and found watching funny movies and laughing at them could actually open up blood vessels, allowing blood to circulate more freely.

Miller thought, if laughter can do that, why not music? So, he tested the effects of music on the cardiovascular system. "Turns out music may be one of the best de-stressors -- either by playing or even listening to music," said Miller.

The setup was basically the same as with the laughter study: Using high-tech imaging, Miller measured blood vessel size as people listened to music.

The results did not surprise Miller. "The inner lining of the blood vessel relaxed, opened up and produced chemicals that are protective to the heart," he said.

But when participants listened to music they didn't particularly enjoy, Miller said, "the vessels actually began to close up."
That's exactly what tension -- or stress -- does.

Long-term stress can wreak havoc on the cardiovascular system. Over time, it can cause blood vessels to stiffen and become rigid, constricting blood flow. As people get older, arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, becomes a problem. Constricted vessels can cause blood pressure to rise and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Stress can also suppress the immune system, contribute to infertility and impotence, speed the aging process and even rewire the brain, leaving people more vulnerable to anxiety and depression.

But music can counter the effects of stress. "It gives us an overall feeling of good, well-being -- a sense of euphoria in some cases," Miller said.

A recent study out of Stanford University found elderly patients who were diagnosed with depression gained self-esteem and saw an improvement in their mood when they were visited by a music therapist.

In fact, many hospitals across the country use music therapy to help patients heal. The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, uses music as part of its cardiovascular surgery healing program to "promote relaxation and reduce tension, stress and anxiety." Because music helps these patients relax, it decreases their pain, improves their moods and helps them to sleep better, especially during recovery.

Miller has not only seen these same results in some of his patients who use music therapy, but he said he also believes music can be so relaxing that it can actually keep the body young. "We would like to believe that it may slow down the aging process," he said.

But be careful what you listen to. Whether you like Beyoncé or the B-52s, Chopin or Johnny Cash, Miller found that listening repeatedly to the same tune diminished the music's effects on the body. "You just don't get that boost if you listen to the same song over and over again," he said. "You need to vary your songs, so when you hear the song fresh, it brings back the sense of joy and opens up the system."

So, the next time your boss gets on your nerves, or the kids are driving you crazy, or the car breaks down, don't start pulling out your hair. Instead, turn on the radio, grab your iPod or pop in a CD, and let the music carry you away.


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Subject: RE: BS: Music heals.
From: Wesley S
Date: 12 May 09 - 03:59 PM

Great info thanks.


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Subject: RE: BS: Music heals.
From: Rapparee
Date: 12 May 09 - 04:45 PM

I'm listening to the music of John Cage!


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Subject: RE: BS: Music heals.
From: GUEST,lox
Date: 12 May 09 - 04:59 PM

I recetly bought my first portable MP3 player and I have definitely noticed that my morning and evening train journeys are considerably less stressful than they were.

I also find that when I "crack" a new piece I also feel a hell of a lot less stress.

You might fairly argue that of course I would, being required to do so for deadlines as I am.

But all joking aside, when I've had a really good practice or learning session and I come out feeling like I've really achieved something, I also feel a huge endorphine rush in my blood that I can almost taste - and the flavour is like citric acid - tangy and very moreish.

Its my favourite sensation, and I find that the more dissonant the chords the more this citrussy tang is rinsed into my system.

Bring on the music!!


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Subject: RE: BS: Music heals.
From: GUEST,lox
Date: 12 May 09 - 05:07 PM

Oh and to add to this, My Piano coach is 85 and looks and behaves like a much younger man, and is sharper in his mind than any man of any age that I have met.

Great wit, vast knowledge and admirable personal qualities and I have every reason to agree with any suggestion that its because he's been playing jazz with the greats for nearly 70 years.


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Subject: RE: BS: Music heals.
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 12 May 09 - 05:37 PM

Rapaire,

Would that be John Cage's piece 4'33" that you're listening to??


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Subject: RE: BS: Music heals.
From: Bill D
Date: 12 May 09 - 05:46 PM

Lots of Tom Lehrer can do wonders, huh? ;>))


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Subject: RE: BS: Music heals.
From: open mike
Date: 13 May 09 - 01:10 AM

music heels (and toes) http://www.sandysilvadance.com/

did you see this senior couple playing a piano duet?

www.youtube.com/watch?v=RI-l0tK8Ok0


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Subject: RE: BS: Music heals.
From: open mike
Date: 13 May 09 - 01:12 AM

forgot to add this link to above post..
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9N_D7TmwY0


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Subject: RE: BS: Music heals.
From: Dorothy Parshall
Date: 13 May 09 - 01:22 AM

Excuse me for getting serious but this is a terrifically important subject to me. After connecting with a couple musician friends on-line, back in January, I started listening to music after a long drought. I felt a great deal better. Then, looking for something else, I checked out my copy of Change Your Brain Change Your Life by Daniel Amen and found that five of his strategies for improving temporal lobe functioning involve music - playing, listening, singing, dancing, humming. Music is powerful The Turks used is in the 1400s to heal mental patients. My life has been transformed by the music and musicians with whom I have connected in the last few months and I am exceedingly grateful to them.


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Subject: RE: BS: Music heals.
From: open mike
Date: 13 May 09 - 02:40 AM

no need to apologize for sending such usefull information
glad you have found music to be so helpful..
i am a true believer in the theraputic value of music..
and thanks for the book info..the author sounds wonderful
http://www.amenclinics.com/


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Subject: RE: BS: Music heals.
From: Bert
Date: 13 May 09 - 03:53 AM

...Hospitals across the country use music therapy to help patients heal...

Then why do they play such dreary shit?


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Subject: RE: BS: Music heals.
From: maeve
Date: 13 May 09 - 05:01 AM

Around here we have excellent music being used in music therapy in hospitals and cancer treatment centers.

maeve, in Maine


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Subject: RE: BS: Music heals.
From: Dorothy Parshall
Date: 13 May 09 - 10:17 AM

We need to always remember that the music must be "excellent" to the specific individual at that specific time in their life. The stuff some people consider "therapeutic" would drive me nuts. And the stuff I am finding helpful, others have no interest in at all. Individuals and therapists need to listen to inner wisdom for the correct music - and everything else. Same goes for bibliotherapy.

I have a strong interest in how the brain works, from being a therapist with a wonky brain myself! Amen has done incredible work on this, esp for "ADHD" but also generally. Best of all, he writes comprehensible books. Another superb book is My Stroke of Insight, a neurobiologist describing her personal experience of having a stroke and healing from it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Music heals.
From: Dorothy Parshall
Date: 13 May 09 - 10:32 AM

I have found that contra dancing bores me to death but the music and movement of international folk dancing is amazingly therapeutic - for me. I always feel better the next morning even after a short night's sleep. It is good for body, mind and spirit.


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Subject: RE: BS: Music heals.
From: Ebbie
Date: 13 May 09 - 10:39 AM

"But music can counter the effects of stress. "It gives us an overall feeling of good, well-being -- a sense of euphoria in some cases," Miller said."

Some years back - long before I and a couple of other people started our own monthly concert series - there was a folk club in Juneau. I would listen to the series of different performers while I had a couple glasses of wine and when the evening was over I would practically float up the steep hill to my house. (Believe me, we have steep hills here.)

I assumed it was the wine that made my upward trek so effortless.

Then, one night it was so crowded in the pub that I wasn't able to get any wine or anything else.

And guess what - I floated up the hill.

It was the music.

Thanks for the article, Bruce.


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Subject: RE: BS: Music heals.
From: Dorothy Parshall
Date: 13 May 09 - 10:55 AM

A lesson to live by - It IS the music! Give thanks to all those who write it, play it, share the riches!!!!


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Subject: RE: BS: Music heals.
From: bankley
Date: 13 May 09 - 11:18 AM

check out 'The Mozart Effect' by Don Campbell.... really good book along this line.... I heard him give a lecture once.... nice man, very engaged in health care... cured himself of a serious brain tumor....


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Subject: RE: BS: Music heals.
From: Mrrzy
Date: 13 May 09 - 11:37 AM

This is not BS, is there a joeclone to move it above the line?


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Subject: RE: BS: Music heals.
From: katlaughing
Date: 13 May 09 - 12:54 PM

That's just what I am getting ready to do. This is a terrific thread and belongs upstairs. Thanks, Bruce!!


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Subject: RE: Music heals.
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 13 May 09 - 05:03 PM

For me, when under stress, one guitar is worth more than a truckload of aspirin. I've seen the looks on the faces of patients who are listening to music - it can be transforming, if only for a while.


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Subject: RE: Music heals.
From: katlaughing
Date: 13 May 09 - 07:02 PM

If my Rog is upset, stressed out, etc. I know all I have to do is put on some Art Thieme or one particular Venezuelan llanero music tape we have to get him in a better mood. Art's music always does that for both of us, no matter. I have always used music as a mood-alterer. After reading this article, it makes me that much more grateful that my cardio-surgeon understood my directive that I have my headphones on, with affirmations and music, going into surgery and coming up out of the anaesthesia immediately after. That first night, after surgery, of such terrible pain and fear, Jean Ritchie's sister, Edna's, sweet, sweet voice with dulcimer sang me through the night. I couldn't have made it through without her.


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Subject: RE: Music heals.
From: Ron Davies
Date: 13 May 09 - 10:12 PM

Dorothy is right--the music must be "excellent" to the specific individual at that particular time.

All the more reason to not be narrow--to branch out and listen to lots of kinds of music--and likely get to really feel good about quite a few types. I love to listen to orchestral music, some smaller classical instrumental ensembles, classical choral, folk, bluegrass, klezmir, blues, Sephardic, madrigals, Irish, Western Swing, parlor songs, drinking songs, opera choruses (especially if they are drinking songs or similarly rousing), jazz as long as the melody is discernible, country and western, doo-wop, sea chanteys, early rock--and the list goes on. I can always find something I'd like to listen to. And every one of these makes me feel great.

And I sing and play a good number of these types--which helps of course.

What's more, if you have wide-ranging tastes no type will go stale- and you'll have a very short list of "Oh,no, not again"--if any-as long as you can pick what to listen to, of course.


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Subject: RE: Music heals.
From: Dorothy Parshall
Date: 14 May 09 - 12:54 AM

Another good book is This Is Your Brain on Music. My Djangojazz son and his bass player each read it last winter. It had to be good or Troy would not have suggested it to Michael. I did not read it; my brain does not function the same way as my son's. Guess that's why he is the musician in the family.   

Anyone know the quote from Einstein saying that everything he discovered came from music.

I find Gregorian chants great to relax - put me to sleep!


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Subject: RE: Music heals.
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 14 May 09 - 01:28 PM

Daniel Levitin, who wrote "This is Your Brain on Music," also has another book, called "The World in Six Songs," which is very interesting in terms of looking at what the purpose of music may be from an evolutionary perspective.

Also, Oliver Sachs, the famous neurologist has a great book called "Musicophilia" which has some great stories about the healing power of music in it.


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Subject: RE: Music heals.
From: Ebbie
Date: 02 Jun 09 - 01:47 AM

This came to me from another Mudcatter. It is a long address but it moved me and I wanted to share it. The writer is not a folk performer but the music is the thing...

Welcome address to freshman at Boston Conservatory, given by Karl Paulnack, pianist and director of music division at Boston Conservatory.

One of my parents' deepest fears, I suspect, is that society would not properly value me as a musician, that I wouldn't be appreciated. I had very good grades in high school, I was good in science and math, and they imagined that as a doctor or a research chemist or an engineer, I might be more appreciated than I would be as a musician.

I still remember my mother's remark when I announced my decision to apply to music school, she said, "You're WASTING your SAT scores." On some level, I think, my parents were not sure themselves what the value of music was, what its purpose was. And they LOVED music, they listened to classical music all the time. They just weren't really clear about its function.

So let me talk about that a little bit, because we live in a society that puts music in the "arts and entertainment" section of the newspaper, and serious music, the kind your kids are about to engage in, has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with entertainment, in fact it's the opposite of entertainment. Let me talk a little bit about music, and how it works.

The first people to understand how music really works were the ancient Greeks. And this is going to fascinate you; the Greeks said that music and astronomy were two sides of the same coin. Astronomy was seen as the study of relationships between observable, permanent, external objects, and music was seen as the study of relationships between invisible, internal, hidden objects. Music has a way of finding the big, invisible moving pieces inside our hearts and souls and helping us figure out the position of things inside us. Let me give you some examples of how this works.

One of the most profound musical compositions of all time is the Quartet for the End of Time written by French composer Olivier Messiaen in 1940. Messiaen was 31 years old when France entered the war against Nazi Germany. He was captured by the Germans in June of 1940, sent across Germany in a cattle car and imprisoned in a concentration camp.

He was fortunate to find a sympathetic prison guard who gave him paper and a place to compose. There were three other musicians in the camp, a cellist, a violinist, and a clarinetist, and Messiaen wrote his quartet with these specific players in mind. It was performed in January 1941 for four thousand prisoners and guards in the prison camp. Today it is one of the most famous masterworks in the repertoire.

Given what we have since learned about life in the concentration camps, why would anyone in his right mind waste time and energy writing or playing music? There was barely enough energy on a good day to find food and water, to avoid a beating, to stay warm, to escape torture; why would anyone bother with music? And yet, from the camps, we have poetry, we have music, we have visual art; it wasn't just this one fanatic Messiaen; many, many people created art. Why? Well, in a place where people are only focused on
survival, on the bare necessities, the obvious conclusion is that art must be, somehow, essential for life. The camps were without money, without hope, without commerce, without recreation, without basic respect, but they were not without art. Art is part of survival; art is part of the human spirit, an unquenchable expression of who we are. Art is one of the ways in which we say, "I am alive, and my life has meaning."

On September 12, 2001 I was a resident of Manhattan. That morning I reached a new understanding of my art and its relationship to the world. I sat down at the piano that morning at 10 AM to practice as was my daily routine; I did it by force of habit, without thinking about it. I lifted the cover on the keyboard, and opened my music, and put my hands on the keys and took my hands off the keys. And I sat there and thought, does this even matter? Isn't this completely irrelevant? Playing the piano right now, given what happened in this city yesterday, seems silly, absurd, irreverent, pointless. Why am I here? What place has a musician in this moment in time? Who needs a piano player right now? I was completely lost.

And then I, along with the rest of New York, went through the journey of getting through that week. I did not play the piano that day, and in fact I contemplated briefly whether I would ever want to play the piano again.

And then I observed how we got through the day. At least in my neighborhood, we didn't shoot hoops or play Scrabble. We didn't play cards to pass the time; we didn't watch TV; we didn't shop, we most certainly did not go to the mall. The first organized activity that I saw in New York, that same day, was singing. People sang. People sang around fire houses, people sang "We Shall Overcome." Lots of people sang America the Beautiful. The first organized public event that I remember was the Brahms Requiem, later that week, at Lincoln Center, with the New York Philharmonic. The first organized public expression of grief, our first communal response to that historic event, was a concert. That was the beginning of a sense that life might go on. The US Military secured the airspace, but recovery was led by then arts, and by music in particular, that very night.

From these two experiences, I have come to understand that music is not part of "arts and entertainment" as the newspaper section would have us believe. It's not a luxury, a lavish thing that we fund from leftovers of our budgets, not a plaything or an amusement or a pass time. Music is a basic need of human survival. Music is one of the ways we make sense of our lives, one of the ways in which we express feelings when we have no words, a way for us to understand things with our hearts when we can't with our minds.

Some of you may know Samuel Barber's heartwrenchingly beautiful piece Adagio for Strings. If you don't know it by that name, then some of you may know it as the background music which accompanied the Oliver Stone movie Platoon, a film about the Vietnam War. If you know that piece of music either way, you know it has the ability to crack your heart open like a walnut; it can make you cry over sadness you didn't know you had. Music can slip beneath our conscious reality to get at what's really going on inside us the way a good therapist does.

I bet that you have never been to a wedding where there was absolutely no music. There might have been only a little music, there might have been some really bad music, but I bet you there was some music. And something very predictable happens at weddings; people get all pent up with all kinds of emotions, and then there's some musical moment where the action of the wedding stops and someone sings or plays the flute or something. And even if the music is lame, even if the quality isn't good, predictably 30 or 40 percent of the people who are going to cry at a wedding cry a couple of moments after the music starts. Why? The Greeks. Music allows us to move around those big invisible pieces of ourselves and rearrange our insides so that we can express what we feel even when we can't talk about it. Can you imagine watching Indiana Jones or Superman or Star Wars with the dialogue but no music? What is it about the music swelling up at just the right moment in ET so that all the softies in the audience start crying at exactly the same moment? I guarantee you if you showed the movie with the music stripped out, it wouldn't happen that way. The Greeks: Music is the understanding of the relationship between invisible internal objects.

I'll give you one more example, the story of the most important concert of my life. I must tell you I have played a little less than a thousand concerts in my life so far. I have played in places that I thought were important. I like playing in Carnegie Hall; I enjoyed playing in Paris; it made me very happy to please the critics in St. Petersburg. I have played for people I thought were important; music critics of major newspapers, foreign heads of state.

The most important concert of my entire life took place in a nursing home in Fargo, ND, about 4 years ago. I was playing with a very dear friend of mine who is a violinist. We began, as we often do, with Aaron Copland's Sonata, which was written during World War II and dedicated to a young friend of Copland's, a young pilot who was shot down during the war. Now we often talk to our audiences about the pieces we are going to play rather than providing them with written program notes. But in this case, because we began the concert with this piece, we decided to talk about the piece later in the program and to just come out and play the music without explanation.

Midway through the piece, an elderly man seated in a wheelchair near the front of the concert hall began to weep. This man, whom I later met, was clearly a soldier, even in his 70's, it was clear from his buzz-cut hair, square jaw and general demeanor that he had spent a good deal of his life in the military. I thought it a little bit odd that someone would be moved to tears by that particular movement of that particular piece, but it wasn't the first time I've heard crying in a concert and we went on with the concert and finished the piece.

When we came out to play the next piece on the program, we decided to talk about both the first and second pieces, and we described the circumstances in which the Copland was written and mentioned its dedication to a downed pilot. The man in the front of the audience became so disturbed that he had to leave the auditorium. I honestly figured that we would not see him again, but he did come backstage afterwards, tears and all, to explain himself.

What he told us was this: "During World War II, I was a pilot, and I was in an aerial combat situation where one of my team's planes was hit. I watched my friend bail out, and watched his parachute open, but the Japanese planes which had engaged us returned and machine gunned across the parachute cords so as to separate the parachute from the pilot, and I watched my friend drop away into the ocean, realizing that he was lost. I have not thought about this for many years, but during that first piece of music you played, this memory returned to me so vividly that it was as though I was reliving it. I didn't understand why this was happening, why now, but then when you came out to explain that this piece of music was written to commemorate a lost pilot, it was a little more than I could handle. How does the music do that? How did it find those feelings and those memories in me?"

Remember the Greeks: music is the study of invisible relationships between internal objects. This concert in Fargo was the most important work I have ever done. For me to play for this old soldier and help him connect, somehow, with Aaron Copland, and to connect their memories of their lost friends, to help him remember
and mourn his friend, this is my work. This is why music matters.

What follows is part of the talk I will give to this year's freshman class when I welcome them a few days from now. The responsibility I will charge your sons and daughters with is this:If we were a medical school, and you were here as a med student practicing appendectomies, you'd take your work very seriously because you would imagine that some night at two AM someone is going to waltz into your emergency room and you're going to have to save their life. Well, my friends, someday at 8 PM someone is going to walk into your concert hall and bring you a mind that is confused, a heart that is overwhelmed, a soul that is weary. Whether they go out whole again will depend partly on how well you do your craft. You're not here to become an entertainer, and you don't have to sell yourself. The truth is you don't have anything to sell; being a musician isn't about dispensing a product, like selling used Chevys.

I'm not an entertainer; I'm a lot closer to a paramedic, a firefighter, a rescue worker. You're here to become a sort of therapist for the human soul, a spiritual version of a chiropractor, physical therapist, someone who works with our insides to see if they get things to line up, to see if we can come into harmony with ourselves and be healthy and happy and well. Frankly, ladies and gentlemen, I expect you not only to master music; I expect you to save the planet. If there is a future wave of wellness on this planet, of harmony, of peace, of an end to war, of mutual understanding, of equality, of fairness, I don't expect it will come from a government, a military force or a corporation. I no longer even expect it to come from the religions of the world, which together seem to have brought us as much war as they have peace.

If there is a future of peace for humankind, if there is to be an understanding of how these invisible, internal things should fit
together, I expect it will come from the artists, because that's what we do. As in the concentration camp and the evening of 9/11, the artists are the ones who might be able to help us with our internal, invisible lives.


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Subject: RE: Music heals.
From: jacqui.c
Date: 02 Jun 09 - 07:11 AM

Amazing.


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Subject: RE: Music heals.
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 02 Jun 09 - 06:30 PM

That is one of the most beautiful pieces of writing I've seen in a very long time. Thank you for posting it, Ebbie.


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Subject: RE: Music heals.
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 02 Jun 09 - 09:36 PM

This is a chapter from my book, The Gate of Beautiful. It seems relevant to the discussion. You may not share the message, but I think you can recognize the power of the music.

Sing unto the Lord a new song
                                                    Isaiah 42:10 KJV

Deep in our hearts there is a desire to lift our voices in praise to the Lord. We seek new ways to express a love that is as old as the beginning of time. Music has always been at the heart of worship. The Book of Psalms is a collection of songs, hymns, poetry, and prayers. Even venerable old Moses was known to break into song on occasion, praising the Lord.

Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord?
                                                      Exodus 15:1 KJV

Just because we are encouraged to sing a new song doesn't mean that the Lord no longer wants to hear the old ones. For many people, it is the old songs that bind us together.

I like to sing those gospel songs my family used to sing
In solid four part harmony, we'd make the rafters ring
We didn't need a hymnal, 'cause we knew the songs by heart
They formed a bond between us and we swore we'd never part

There was a comfort in those words that still is there today
A wisdom in the songs we sang, to guide us on our way
And friendships formed in harmony will last forever more
Until we're reunited upon that golden shore
                I Like to Sing Those Gospel Songs by Jerry Rasmussen

Old age can be a cruel mistress. It can rob us of our memories, and separate us from those who love us most. Sometimes an old song can rekindle memories long since forgotten, taking us back to a happier time in our lives. I think of the elderly woman in a nursing home who was paralyzed and strapped in her wheel chair. She was locked in her body and couldn't move, but her mind was free to travel to a time still remembered.

And sometimes the memories come back with a song
Just as surely as if she were there
                               Tortoise Shell Comb by Jerry Rasmussen

All that it took was an old song.

Sing Unto the Lord an Old Song

My wife Ruth and I went to visit our friend Joe's wife Corrie after church today. Corrie has Alzheimer's Disease. It had been quite awhile since our last visit, and she'd lost a lot of ground. Most days when Joe goes to visit her (and he's never missed a day,) she doesn't open her eyes and rarely utters a comprehensible sentence. More often than not she doesn't recognize visitors. When we arrived at the nursing home, they were just bringing Corrie down the corridor. She was slouched back in her wheelchair, seemingly oblivious to everything. Old Mister Alzheimer had stolen her away, leaving us with a pale imitation of the quick witted and fun-loving woman we had known and loved for so many years. We brought a plant and a card for her, and Joe tried to make her aware that we were there. She had her eyes open and was wearing her glasses, but it was difficult to know what images were registering in her mind. Despite all of Joe's loving efforts to talk with her, she didn't respond, other than to occasionally utter a low cry, as if she was in pain. Joe kept asking her if she had any pain, but the questions hung there in the warm corridor air, fading away with no answer. Joe asked me to read the card to Corrie, so I squatted down in front of her wheelchair and read it to her, telling her how much we love her and that we are keeping her in prayer. With that, she attempted to string together a few words into a sentence, and for the first time, I felt that I was breaking through to her. Whatever remains of
Corrie was trying to reach out to me. After talking to her for a couple of minutes, I squatted down next to her again, resting one hand on hers that was lying limply on the arm of her wheel chair and placing my other hand gently on her shoulder. I leaned forward and looked deep into her eyes and began to sing.

"How much do I owe him?" I sang. There was a dim flicker in her eyes as she sat there listening. "Remember that song, Corrie? That was your favorite song that the Messengers sang. You used to play it on the piano." Corrie can no longer feed herself, and her piano playing days are long over. But I knew that Corrie recognized the song, and I sang the chorus for her.

How much do I owe him?
How much do I owe him?
How much do I owe him?
He died just for me, just for me
                How Much Do I Owe Him? recorded by The Swanee Quintet

"The next time that we come, Corrie, I'll bring my guitar and we'll do the song together,"I told her. "I will if the good Lord is willing," she answered. It was the first time in a long time that she had spoken clearly in response to a question. Neither Joe, their grandson Keith or the nurses had been able to get her to answer a single question. But she understood what I was saying. She used to play that song over and over again on her piano when she was still home with Joe. It's still in there. "And sometimes the memories come back with a song, as surely as if she were there."

As we were leaving, Joe was beaming at us. "I think she knew who you were," he said. "She really lit up when you started singing to her." And suddenly, it was a beautiful day. Sometimes the old songs are the best.


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Subject: RE: Music heals.
From: katlaughing
Date: 02 Jun 09 - 10:36 PM

Well, I haven't even heard any music just now and I've got tears running down my face. Ebbie, thank you for one of the best writings on the arts I have ever read.

Jerry, thanks to you, too, for the Beauty you share.

I give thanks for the music in life!


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Mudcat time: 21 February 12:45 PM EST

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