Good Vibrations

Find out how you can easily feel music’s healing powers.

William Congreve claims in his poem, “The Mourning Bride”: “Music has charms to soothe a savage breast.” (Sometimes he is misquoted— people occasionally substitute “beast” for “breast”—this statement seems to be true either way, and yes, music most definitely has healing powers.)

Have you ever picked up your instrument, and the notes produced prior to warming up sound something like nails on a chalkboard? The vibrations you have created are unpleasant and move through you like a jarring shock; thus, the opposite must also be true. Have you listened to a piece of music simply because it brought tears to your eyes as the crescendo induced the spread of goose bumps all over your skin?

Tibetan Singing Bowl

Music has healing and meditative qualities stemming from the vibrations, which create the ultimate sound. A Tibetan singing bowl concert uses this concept to help with relaxation. The best thing about a Tibetan singing bowl concert is lying down and letting the vibrations produced by the bowls move through you—you lay down on the floor and are consequently on the same plane as the bowls being played.

There is a calming, meditative-like state that is entered during this type of concert, as the breath slows and allows the parasympathetic nervous system to melt into a state of calm. Talk about good vibrations!

You can recreate a Tibetan singing bowl concert even without the bowls. Recruit a musician friend to have a partner concert with you. Take turns lying down and letting your friend play his/ her instrument on your level, so that you can feel the vibrations of the notes wash over your body. Start this exercise with notes in the lower register and then as you become more in touch with listening to the notes and feeling them in your body, move to the higher register. Play calmly and slowly—infuse the notes with your own relaxed energy.

Music Therapy

As musicians, you have undoubtedly heard a lot about music therapy, which has gained popularity along with other types of art therapies in recent years. The American Music Therapy Association defines music therapy as “the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional.”

In essence, music therapy uses sound, music and the act of playing an instrument to cope, reflect and delve deeper into the individual self. Music is a form of self-expression; therefore, it naturally follows that it has the power to bring up emotion with the subtlest of vibrations.

Senator Harry Reid was quoted as saying, “Simply put, music can heal people.”

Music has been seen to help people who have Alzheimer’s, autism and Parkinson’s disease. If music and vibratory patterns can help severe diseases such as these, then music can certainly help you maintain a healthier lifestyle, even off the field and out of the band room.

Think about it this way: Would you prefer your morning alarm to sound like an alarm or would you prefer to wake up to music?

About the Author

After dancing since the age of 3, Haley Greenwald-Gonella thought it was time to try a new art. In elementary school, she began playing the flute and was in the marching band in middle school and for the first two years of high school. She also played the bassoon during concert season. Dance drew Haley back while in high school.

She graduated from the University of California, Irvine, with degrees in dance and English. She recently graduated from the University of Southern California with a master’s degree in Specialized Journalism (The Arts).

Haley is also a certified registered yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance. She draws upon her dance and yoga training when it comes to all things fitness and the arts.