I recall watching Amy Winehouse perform during the GRAMMY awards in 2008, and I watched her get showered with awards and accolades shortly thereafter (5 GRAMMYS that evening). There were 2 things that were plainly obvious to those inside and outside of the recording industry that night: 1) This is an immensely talented performer with enormous upside potential 2) Winehouse was on a dangerous path and perhaps the tip of a downward spiral, given her problems with addiction and the underlying emotional issues that all too often derail the careers of emerging artists. I couldn’t help think that there was something terribly afoul and enabling with the idea of heaping praise on a woman in such peril after she declared in song, “They tried to make me go to rehab, I said, no, no, no.”
We speak of the power and merits of artistic expression in this forum a great deal, but the story of Amy Winehouse is a cautionary tale. Exposing children to music and the arts provides a valuable outlet for their emotions, and is a tool in teaching them to live productive and healthy lives – but it’s just a start. It’s important to realize and acknowledge its limitations as well. I’m no expert, but I think it’s safe to say that Winehouse’s underlying issues could not be resolved by a piano, guitar, or microphone.
I’ve spoken to music therapy experts, and they’ve echoed these sentiments as well. We must be realistic and practical in espousing the power and benefits of music and music education. Those who oversell its potential provide ammunition for the skeptics and sabotage the scientific advances made by the true practitioners of music and sound therapy, arts integration, and arts education in general.
I have a certain affinity for the music of the early 80′s and the dawn of the music video era. The new wave era on balance will not be remembered for the virtuosity of the musicians nor the sophistication of the music, though it’s noteworthy to mention that The Police, Elvis Costello, Blondie, The Pretenders, and The Tubes were born of that time. Yet there was an energy and excitement that captivated the music world back then.
The disco age was dead. Punk rock had shaken the music world out of its doldrums, but had faded as brilliantly as it had emerged. More importantly, music has the ability to connect us to other times in our lives.
I’ve also had the privilege of speaking to music therapists regarding the connection between music and mood. In the simplest sense, even a non-trained musical ear knows that certain (major) chords or sounds seem “happy,” while others (minor chords) evoke sadness or are more appropriate for horror movies. Of course, their science goes well beyond those basic theories, allowing breakthroughs with patients suffering from Alzheimer’s, Down Syndrome, and Autism.
That brings me to yesterday.
I was having a bad day – No particular tragedies, just a series of life’s little aggravations. Then, while strolling through the grocery store, a tune played from the speakers above. The recognizable intro to “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles. It was the 1st video ever played on MTV back in the day, and the video production levels were so primitive that there was an innocence that permeated the music videos of that era. The song “Our House” by Madness followed. From what moment forward, my day and my attitude changed for the better.
What music changes your mood?
I once interviewed the Development Director for a symphony organization, and he said that when he speaks to representatives from major donor organizations, most were involved in music programs as a child – and that’s the danger of cutting school music programs – the number of individuals who “buy in” to the power and benefits of music education is likely to diminish.
I recently listened to an interview with Dr. Richard Fratianne and a burn patient regarding the benefits of music therapy as a healing aid. Interesting that Dr. Fratianne indicated that music was an integral part of his upbringing.
At the age of 19, Melody Gardot was struck by an SUV while riding a bicycle in a nearly fatal accident. In this interview, Melody discusses her amazing story of how music therapy faciliated her recovery, and ultimately led to a career as a world-renowned recording artist on the Verve recording label.
The interview is conducted by Craig M. Cortello, The “Business Musician” for a series of podcasts entitled Potential of Music that illuminated the benefits of music and music education.
When I was in college, I always kept a guitar or electric piano close by. When I needed a break from studying (or “cramming” in most cases), I found that the release of music for 15-20 minutes really helped re-charge my batteries, so to speak.
I attended the November meeting of the National Speakers Association New Orleans chapter yesterday, with featured speaker Scott Ginsberg, an amazing guy and a fellow guitar player. Scott is a prolific writer and professional speaker. He echoed those same semtiments regarding music. Scott picks up the guitar and plays when he needs a break from the computer.
We got into a discussion regarding why playing guitar (or any instrument) is such a great release. Here are some of the throughts that followed:
“Playing music allows me to:
- clear my mind”
- not have to think, or”
- think in a way that removes barriers and comes from a selfless place”
- express the best part of myself”
- be who I am”
- relax in a way that I can’t otherwise”
- lose myself”
Why do you play?
Music & Healing – a topic we’ve covered here before. This from the Fayetteville Observer in NC:
Here are some related posts from our archives:
Uplifting Music Therapy Story: Verve Recording Artist Melody Gardot
Continuing with yesterday’s theme of the ever-expanding applications of music therapy, meet Ms. Melody Gardot. Melody suffered a near-fatal accident when struck by an SUV while riding a bike at the age of nineteen. She turned to music therapy as an alternative to the numerous pain medications that doctors prescribed.
She has now signed with the Verve record label and is touring the world promoting her 2nd full-length album, My One and Only Thrill.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Gardot in 2008 and wrote a feature for AllAboutJazz.com. Here’s the link to the article entitled, “Parallels of Recovery: Melody Gardot Finds Inspiration in the Spirit of New Orleans”
To sample Melody’s music and learn more about tour dates and info, visit the Melody Gardot website.
Listen to an audio excerpt of my interview with Melody:
Slowly but surely, public awareness of the effectiveness of music therapy as a means of assisting those with developmental disabilities such as autism, down syndrome, and Alzheimers is growing. In this video below, we learn that music therapy is also an effective treatment for cancer patients in dealing with anxiety, pain perception, and emotional expression. Noteworthy from the video from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center is that patient immune systems funcion better in comparison to contral study groups not receiving music therapy treatment.
To learn more about the exciting and expanding field of music therapy, visit the website of the American Music Therapy Association.