Humans make decisions based on emotion and then construct the logic behind these decisions. Therefore, if you want to change someone’s mind you first need to change their mood. The quickest way I know to change a person’s mood is to add music into the relationship.
Sixties rock superstar Jimi Hendrix said: ‘You can hypnotize people with music, and when you get them at their weakest point, you can preach into their subconscious whatever you want to say.’
After my grandfather suffered a stroke, he lost his ability to speak but not his ability to be miserable. After singing to my grandfather for the first time, he expressed a softness towards me – something he had never shown before.
Time after time I have witnessed people saturated in a moment of music that changes them – from crusty to relaxed, from lonely to secure, from uncomfortable to soothed.
Getting to the place where you are fully immersed in music takes time. For some this may be 3 minutes. for others 20. This is one of the reasons why we ask that all external parties to the group (ie. staff) not to talk in the background of a music therapy session. The goals we are working to help our clients achieve, in the areas of communication and social engagement, can only be reached if we are able to establish the right emotional state.
Music can not deeply penetrate the global brain when the brain is distracted by other non-musical sounds in the background.
Mx: Your Music Prescription
Put on your most relaxing CD and find a comfortable place to sit or lay down near the speakers. Make sure the volume is strong enough to capture your attention and low enough you won’t hurt your eardrums.
Take a few minutes to observe your breathing. Get into a comfortable position and be aware of the air as it moves in through your mouth or nose.
You may notice some pauses in your breath, pay attention to these. You do not need to fix it – just notice it. If any thoughts arise simply let them go for now and bring you focus back to your breath and begin to shift your focus to the music entirely.
Follow the melody, or pay attention to the pauses in the music. If you find yourself drifting away try to bring yourself back to the music itself.
Do this for 20 minutes. Research suggests that your mood will improve and your stress will be greatly reduced at the end of this intentional music listening exercise.
Jennifer Buchanan is the happy owner of JB Music Therapy, celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2011. Our “Music Speaks” Blog: 50 Musical Motivators for 2011 (MMs) aims to Help you Relax, Reflect and Remember what you Value Most