Posts Tagged "Music Outreach Programs"

How making music can help people living with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s

Music touches us in profound ways, and while many of us enjoy listening to music, it is the activity of making music that has the most powerful effect on our wellbeing. The Sing-Play approach makes learning how to do this an easy and rewarding experience. We have so much music inside of us just waiting to come out.

Most adults currently living with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s will have grown up in a significantly more active musical environment. Many more people were engaged in music making, in their local communities, through participation in local orchestras, chorus, church choirs, as well as playing in dance bands. Despite having Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, they will possess a huge reservoir of music that they have heard which makes it very easy to develop.

While scientific studies continue to show us how making music has a positive effect on our brains, cognition, co-ordination and emotional well- being, it doesn’t really show us how much enjoyment we get out of making music ourselves. With Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, the sufferer is learning how to navigate a life that now includes diminishing life skills, and an increased need for help. Learning how to activate their creativity and make music themselves becomes a powerfull addition to their lives, both personally and for their families.

AT for Pain Management

Back pain is a common condition managed in primary care and one of the commonest causes of disability in Western societies. Drugs and surgery are the traditional methods to deal with pain.

For over a hundred years lessons in the Alexander Technique have taught students how to activate the principles that govern human functioning. The genius of Alexander’s discoveries, is that we all can learn as adults how to recapture the ease and freedom of movement so beautifully demonstrated by young children.

Lessons in the Alexander Technique are very frequently used for Pain Management. Going beyond regular treatments for physical problems, students gain long term relief from such aliments as:

  • Back and neck problems
  • Repetitive Strain Injuries
  • Scoliosis

It can be used to accelerate recovery from surgery or injuries caused by accidents. Alexander Technique works holistically. It not only helps alleviate physical suffering but can also help to improve overall health, both physically and psychologically.

The fact is, the mind cannot be separated from the body, so that what happens in the body affects the mind and vice versa. Even “gym rats” notice that after an intense workout they feel better not just physically, but also mentally. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, prolonged stress from work, home life or other situations can contribute to physical ailments, like high blood pressure and circulation issues, and, in severe cases, put some people at a heightened risk for heart problems.

“Lessons in the Alexander technique offer an individualized approach designed to develop lifelong skills for self-care that help people recognize, understand, and avoid poor habits affecting postural tone and neuromuscular coordination.”

−British Medical Journal

Music Wellness

Music Wellness is an approach to music learning that has evolved over many years of my ongoing interest in different wholistic modalities. It was sparked by the instant improvement in my clarinet playing from just one lesson in the Alexander Technique. This was such a shock, as it was a radically different approach to developing excellence that I was learning at the time from my famous teacher. This led me to becoming a certified teacher of the Alexander Technique and introduced me to a whole new world.

If you think of wellness as developing a lifestyle that you can easily live on a daily basis it covers three broad areas, Body, Mind and Spirit and Music Wellness addresses the Spirit. You learn to make music with the aim of giving it out to others, regardless of whether they are in the room or far away.

While I teach this to all my music students, it was brilliantly demonstrated to me by one of my music students, only four years old. During our last music session, she was singing one of her favorite songs and playing the drums, while I was playing the piano. Then she spontaneously made up a song to all her grandmothers, (they are all in heaven), and another song for all her grandfathers, who are also in heaven. In the process of offering them her songs, she was connecting directly with them – despite the great distance between earth and heaven! – and creating wellness for herself.

Music Wellness means that every time you make music you are helping others, by playing to them and yourself by thinking outwardly. This can be part of your daily life.

Outreach

Outreach as the name implies, is reaching out to help others using your creativity – to lift their spirits.

Any of the creative arts can be used as a vehicle for this, music, dance, theater, photography, writing, art, poetry.

Embedded in this approach is the intent, that by reaching out to help others, you help them to want to reach out and help others. So what gets activated is a whole room of people reaching out to each other.

Music is a profound communication, and like a mother singing a lullaby to soothe her baby, using music to enhance some ones’ life is one of the greatest gifts that you can give. This is what is called outreach.

This idea of playing for someone else is a fundamental part of my approach to teaching music. The other person does not need to be present at the lesson. It is the idea of giving out with your music.

My students immediately notice the difference in what they are doing when they think of playing for someone else, versus trying to get the notes right. They then notice that it is much easier to sing/play their instruments and they enjoy what they are doing more. Therefore they want to make music more often.

I run several outreach programs at local senior and assisted living facilities, where I encourage my students to come so that they can experience how their music making has a dynamic effect on the residents. It will awaken a profound joy, a sense of well-being for others that will have you wanting to come back week after week. And like magic, week after week, your music – and your well being – will grow.