Music Therapy

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By Shannon Boatwright

Music does so much more than connect people, allow an escape, fill hearts with passion, take individuals on journeys to past moments in time, instigate smiles, movement and singing along…

Music literally can benefit your health in many ways and create healing.

It’s a beautiful thing, the powers of music. I’ve written other blogs about this priceless, glorious thing that is music and I recently keep coming across information that proves that music is indeed therapeutic. The benefits of music are so good for our health that it can help us to heal and keep us healthy.

There is a connection between music and dopamine. The impact of music on the brain is substantial, such that immediate improvements can take place. Research shows that music taps into many areas of the brain, opening opportunities like no other. For example, when Arizona congresswoman, Gabby Giffords, survived a near-fatal gunshot to the head, it was music therapy that helped her regain her ability to speak. She firmly believes music therapy is what helped her to regain the skill to speak.

Another beautiful example of the power of music is the effects of music therapy on those suffering with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.  With many of these patients, music therapy helps to soothe their anxieties, give them great comfort, joy and even can lessen their need for meds.  I’ll never forget going to visit my grandmother in a nursing home as she was in the latter stages of Alzheimer’s. She had no idea who I was. It was heartbreaking. But man she could still sing “Jesus Loves Me” and she sang it with pride and joy in her heart, knowing every word. It was an odd, yet fascinating thing to witness.

Music therapy can be used to help people with PTSD, brain injuries, asthma attacks, anxiety attacks, autism, Alzheimer’s disease and even pain management, just to name a few.  In many cases one can communicate through music, without ever having to speak. It’s an amazing thing.

Music

I remember when I was a junior in high school, I’d had surgery to have my tonsils taken out.  After surgery, my throat was fine, just felt like another sore throat. But I was in incredible pain – like can’t think straight, constant pain – in my jaws. Apparently when they performed the surgery, they had opened my mouth too wide and over-extended my jaws! Now I have a big mouth, but that was ridiculous. In an attempt to deal with the pain, I remember I would play the soothing, passionate music of Yanni as I took a bath and would hold my head under water such that only my mouth and nose was above the water so I could breath. I would focus on the music and the sensation of the water and visualize my jaws healing. The music would take me away. The music allowed me to escape the pain.

To think of it now, what an incredible thing. There is such power in music, if we only allow ourselves to access it!Music-Washes-Away-From-the-Soul-

When I start any new class, I always give the students a questionnaire. The questionnaire is meant to be fun for them – a moment to think about their favorite things, forcing them to consider the things that make them happy, giving them an opportunity to compliment themselves and think about their passions. The assignment also acts as a fabulous way for me to get to know them. Some of the questions involve music – asking who is their favorite singer, their favorite band, what is their favorite song this week, etc. When a student answers, “I don’t really have any favorites, I don’t listen to music.” – my heart breaks. Seriously, it’s like a blow to my core. This kind of response is rare, but it happens. I want to take that child under my wing and introduce them to the wonders and beauty of music. I feel like they are a lost soul that needs to be found and have the opportunity to connect on that magical level with the powers of music. I can’t help but think, shame on this kid’s family for not allowing them to be exposed to the wonders of music. I know every individual’s circumstances are different, but my heart aches for any child that is not exposed to music. One does not have to be wealthy to experience the glories of music. So when I come across any individual that seems to have no connection to music whatsoever, I honestly worry for their well-being.

Music TherapyAnyone can look up the benefits of music, the healing powers of music therapy, and see for themselves all the research and proof. My hope for anyone reading this is that you allow yourself the opportunities to connect to music that moves you. Find the music that fills you up. Experiment with different types of music that speak to you, take you away, give you peace and strength. And the next time you’re struggling on any level, whether with pain, fears, heartbreak, anxiety, whatever it may be, please remember to seek out the magical, healing resource that is music. And if you are trying to help others, remember that music therapy is a beautiful tool that can be used to create healing and comfort.

Music, The Virtual Time Machine

By Shannon Boatwright

“The music that touches you in your youth is magnified as you get older. Each record can be a virtual time machine – all you need is to hear a second or two and you go back to that place and time when you first heard it.  It’s a brilliant feeling when music touches you so profoundly and stays with you through time.”

  • Rob Halford

Music, for me, is an incredible source of inspiration on so many levels. Rob Halford is considered a Metal God. His voice is out of this world – his vocal abilities and range have put him on the top of the lists as one of the best voices of rock.  After reading up on him, what I really like most about him is his passion for music and his recognition of its ability to truly transport people.  One of my favorite drummers, Brad Wilk, posted this quote by Rob on his Instagram. It really caught my eye because I truly cannot imagine life without music. Music is what helps to fuel my world, keep me motivated, keep me inspired.  All types of music have this lovely ability to take you away, envelop you in its graces and flood you with memories, visions and dreams.Music, The Virtual Time Machine

When I hear certain music, I am most definitely transported to another time. Sometimes instantly. For example, if I hear “Coming to America” by Neil Diamond, I am instantly transported to my living room back in my elementary and middle school days when my mother would blast his music while we cleaned house. She would have it playing loud and proud and I secretively loved it, especially this song. I can see the room, I can smell the fragrances of our home, I can see my Mom singing along and getting taken away by the passion of the song. Growing up with a professional pianist mother who loves music immensely and music is literally her life, well, you get influenced! It’s inevitable. Whether it was classical music, Neil Diamond, Abba, Julio Iglesias, gospel music, classic rock or Yanni – music has always filled the homes that I grew up in.

Music was and is a source of therapy, a source of freedom, a source of great escape. And goodness knows, when I hear certain songs, I am totally transported back in time!  I can hear a song from the movie Annie and instantly be transported to the early 1980s when I would act out the entire movie in my living room for my family. I can hear the song “Dumb Dog” from when Annie is singing to the dog Sandy and instantly feel myself back in my childhood backyard where I used to sing the song to my own dog as I wandered around my yard pretending I was on the streets of New York. I can even smell the pine trees!  When I hear the Guns-n-Roses’ song, “November Rain” I am totally taken back to 1992 when my best friend Tammy and I went to the Metallica/Guns-n-Roses concert at Williams Brice Stadium and thought we were the coolest chicks ever.  Or, “Crockadile Rock” by Elton John, which takes me right to my varsity cheerleading auditions in which I overcame insecurities and went for it, having a blast with the choreography, making the varsity team.  I think of my team and Coach Elliott every time I hear that song and I can literally feel the school carpet under my sneakers as I rehearsed and auditioned.

I could fill page after page of the songs that create a time machine for me that transports me back to glorious moments and memories in which I can still remember the setting perfectly, recreating the moment in such a way that I feel I could close my eyes and still feel, see, and touch everything around me from that special moment in time.  It’s a brilliant thing indeed to be touched so profoundly!  My wish is that my mind and heart are able to always hold onto to this sensory ability that music brings out in me. Here’s to hoping my virtual time machine never breaks down! I hope and pray that music will always have this magical ability to transport me, allowing memories to flood my senses.

Where does your virtual time machine take you? What songs transport you to fabulous moments and special memories?  Pay attention and take note of these priceless songs and allow them to take you back, so that they can stay with you throughout your lifetime!

Confetti

By Shannon Boatwright

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Life is crazy. Like, super crazy. It can be overwhelming, full of busy nonsense and before you know it, time has flown by and the buzz of this nonstop life seems to take away your time. In a flash.  Your day is gone. Your kids are grown. You might find yourself saying, what have I done?

Are you spending all your time focused on thinking you won’t be happy until you reach the top? Are your eyes so busy being set on the prize that you forget to live for the now and bring a little happiness into others’ lives?

All the awards, prizes and recognition won’t mean a thing in the end, because love is bigger. Happiness doesn’t come from “the stuff”, it comes from within.

We all know this. We know better. We’ve heard and read these types of words before. But do we make an effort to truly make it happen? Are you going to live your life always waiting for the confetti to fall or are you going to recognize that tomorrow may never come and you should live for right now?

So much in my complicated life lately has reminded me of the importance of NOT waiting for the confetti to fall.  I don’t want to be distracted by the noise of this ridiculous game most people play in this crazy life as they focus only on the hype, instead of the happiness. I want to cherish every precious moment and opportunity that I receive. I want to live, be happy and spread happiness to others.  I’d like to believe that when we genuinely live life and appreciate every moment, we’ll see that recognition and prizes aren’t a requirement and thus when we do receive them, they’re even more greatly treasured.Confetti

Singer/Songwriter Tori Kelly’s song, “Confetti” is beautiful and brilliant. I’m a big fan of hers and while listening to her station on iHeartRadio, this song recently played. It struck me immediately.  I took a screenshot and went straight to iTunes to purchase it.   If you have the time to take a listen, it will brighten your life. Really listen to the words and hopefully they’ll inspire you as they did me. We can always use a lovely reminder to live our lives – to really live our lives. 😉

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjaaZ-0D2CI

When Doves Cry…

By: Shannon Boatwright

Prince

Ok, so I know I’m one of millions upon millions writing about Prince’s death. BUT… I may be one of only a few in the Midlands, SC area actually blogging about it. Prince made a big impact on so many people, in so many different ways. One of the latest quotes I’ve heard since his passing, I heard on the radio during one of my all-too-early morning drives on the way to school. The radio DJ said that the amazing Eric Clapton was once asked, “How does it feel to be the best guitar player ever?” His response, “I don’t know, ask Prince.”

I’m not usually good at remembering quotes and such, but that one stuck with me. I always loved Prince. And I don’t mean I’m just one of the “normal” fans that “loved” Prince. He intrigued me early on. His music caught my attention in ways that other artists did not. He captivated me and ultimately inspired me in ways that to this day, I could not describe. It sounds silly because when I first heard his music, I was very young. When his Purple Rain album was released in 1984, I was only 9 years old! So I heard his music, I knew his voice, I recognized his vibe when I was so young.

And yet, I fast forward to my middle school, high school, college, and on into my professional adult years and his music has never aged. It’s always struck something in me that lit my heart and soul on fire.

I was just talking to my best friend, Tammy, the other day – we were literally mourning his death and recalling memories that flooded our minds when we thought of any of his music. We were both overwhelmed with a memory of being in the tenth grade at a fellow cheerleader’s house for a sleepover party. How cliché, right?! Well, this friend of ours was a big time dancer and her parents had turned the space above their garage into a dance studio, mirrored walls and all. This was REALLY cool and us girls went all out crazy, dancing in that space. We were 15 and 16 years old, genuinely drunk on life in our innocent youth, feeding off of the natural high that lives in the joy of music and dance. And ironically, Tammy and I both vividly remembered dancing to When Doves Cry. For real, we both vividly recalled dancing to Prince that night – each of us dancing as if no one was watching; in our own worlds, rocking out to Prince like nobody’s business! Prince would’ve been proud. Proud that his music allowed us to lose our inhibitions and just let loose. The music literally inspired us and carried us off into our own worlds as we grooved. I remember killing it on air guitar. I can still see us all in the mirrors, rocking out. I think it was then, thanks to Prince’s inspiration, that I began to conquer the art of playing air guitar. 😉

Prince was a huge part of the musical soundtrack of my college years, too – albums ranging from Purple Rain to Diamonds and Pearls to (most unfortunately not found on iTunes) The Gold Experience. When news hit that Prince had passed, special friends from my college days texted me song lyrics and song clips. That’s big time there. Even though we are deep into our professional lives, we couldn’t help but contact each other, even after all these years. Wow…Whew…Wow again….

During my ten years living in Los Angeles, CA, my best night EVER in the City of Angels was the night that I was in the same room with Prince. No lie. No exaggerations here.

One night, my employer gave me the choice to either work an event or to walk the red carpet as “The Girl with Something Xtra.” Well, I’m thankful I made the choice to walk the red carpet instead of getting a paycheck.

Ironically, a dear friend of mine had recently moved to L.A. and she and I cheered together in high school. Yep…she was in that home with the dance studio. She was at that high school sleepover night that my best friend and I remember so vividly, dancing to Prince’s music. She and her husband had just moved into town and I couldn’t think of a better person to invite out on a fabulous night out. I had no idea what to expect, but I thought she’d surely enjoy walking the red carpet on one of her first nights out in Los Angeles. Little did we know that the night would turn out to be so incredibly unforgettable.

I won’t go into all the juicy details… there were many reasons why that night was one of the best nights of my L.A. experience. But, I will say – and I have a dear friend to vouch for me – on that already oh-so-incredible night, when Prince walked through the door, with his cane and a gorgeous woman on either side of him, and the crowd parted as he crossed the small room and sat on his perch that overlooked the dance floor, celebrities literally at his feet, singing his praises…well, time stood still.

As I reflect, I can literally feel the room, smell the room, see the glow of Prince’s hair and his mac-daddy suit, the electricity that filled the air… no lie, the crowd parted…it was a small room… and he was right there…Prince…in all his glory. I think just watching and taking in everyone else’s reaction to him was as priceless as being in the same room with him. It’s quite mind blowing to think back to. My friend, Amy, and I were literally speechless.

After a multitude of “OMGs” and “This Can’t Be Happening” moments, the inevitable happened… Yep, eventually, the club played a Prince song. The crowd went wild, naturally. And in that moment, myself, my high school girlfriend, and a crowd of celebrities ranging from Taye Diggs to Michael Vartan to the cast of “That 70s Show”, all went nuts when we had the opportunity to dance to a Prince song while Prince was right there. All celebrity status went out the window…we all succumbed to the power that was Prince. I vividly remember dancing with Laura Prepon, from “That 70s Show.” She and I had never met, yet we happened to be near each other when Prince’s music played. We jumped up and down like schoolgirls as we looked up and across the room, dancing, holding hands, bouncing up and down, while Prince watched us all.

We all let go of inhibitions, forgot who was who and just gave in to the music. Bad thing is, I don’t even remember which played. In that moment, it really didn’t matter.

Whew, what an experience! Words really just cannot express! I have to admit…when I really think about that night it really was out of this world. If it weren’t for my precious high school girlfriend who was there too, I don’t think anyone would believe me.

Needless to say, hearing of Prince’s death rocked my world. It’s weird…Prince was like an untouchable god, yet at the same time he was a little bit of all of us. What I think most of us failed to realize until he left our world, is that his talent was beyond incredible. Repeatedly since his passing, I’ve been reminded not only of the mark he left on so many of us personally, but of his amazing talent. I could go on and on…

But I’ll hush for now. Go find your favorite Prince songs… listen, reflect, rejoice and just soak in the awesomeness of his many talents. And above all, as the doves cry, remember that we’re all gathered here to get through this thing called life.

So make the absolute best of it!

😉

The Power of Music

By:  Shannon Shull

A bit odd to think of music being powerful, heh?  If you really stop and think about it though, you’ll know what I’m talking about.  Music has the ability to strike emotions in us humans that are indescribable.  Have you ever listened to a particular song and it moved you to tears?  Have you ever listened to a song and it literally causes you to move your body?  Have you ever listened to a song and instantly a specific memory is recalled? If you answered NO to any of those questions, then I’m terribly sorry, but I’m afraid you’re not human.

Seriously! There is great power in music. And different styles of music speak to us individually on many different levels. Some of us love all kinds of music, some of us only love very specific kinds of music.  But either way, for each of us, there is bound to be a song out there that fills our hearts, ignites a special memory or fantasy, or just causes us to rock it out and experience sweet release of some sort.

In my case, my collection of tunes is very broad. I’m a lover of everything from Bach to Bon Jovi, Ella Fitzgerald to Enigma, Gavin DeGraw to Guns-n-Roses, Florence and the Machine to Frank Sinatra, Harry Connick Jr. to Heart, John Legend to the Jackson Five, Katy Perry to Keane, Led Zepplin to Lady Gaga, Louis Prima to Luciano Pavarotti, Mary J. Blige to Meatloaf, Otis Redding to One Republic, Powerman 5000 to Peter Gabriel, Queen to Queensryche, Ray Charles to Rihanna, Sade to Shakira, Tenacious D to t.a.T.u, U2 to Usher, 30 Seconds to Mars to 311…..  and that’s barely scratching the surface of my range of musical tastes!

I don’t know about you, but there are times in my life when music literally fills my soul.  It sometimes can be an out of body experience for me.  My life would be devoid of true living, I’m afraid, if music did not exist.  No matter what mood I’m in, it comes to my rescue, whether I want to grieve, celebrate, remember, release anger, feel sexy, groove or simply rock it out!  Music is a great power in my life.  It inspires me on more levels than I could begin to describe.

I hope that there are some of you out there that can agree with me. Does music captivate you?  Does music take you places?  My playlists range something fierce – one week it may be all dance inducing Zumba type music, one week it may be a playlist that I sing my heart out to, another week it may be emotional and sentimental taking me places in my head… you get my drift.  What’s your latest playlist? I would love for you to share the playlist that is currently inspiring you – the songs that lately have been captivating your heart, mind, body and soul in some way…

The latest playlist rocking my world is…

  • LA Woman – The Doors
  • Pictures of You – The Cure
  • Can’t Get You Off My Mind – Lenny Kravitz
  • Crazy – Seal
  • Put Your Hands On Me – Joss Stone
  • Deep Inside of You – Third Eye Blind
  • Sex is on Fire – Kings of Leon
  • Mystify – INXS
  • Strings – Young the Giant
  • My Body – Young the Giant
  • Never Gonna Leave this Bed – Maroon 5
  • Heartbeat – The Fray
  • I’m on Fire – Bruce Springsteen
  • The Sweetest Taboo – Sade
  • Faster – Matt Nathanson
  • Animal – Neon Trees