Music and sound healing is not a new concept. Cultures throughout the world have used music to empower, energize, heal and soothe the body, mind and spirit since time immemorial. It is no accident that Apollo, the Greek god who is credited as being the father of medicine, is also the father of music and the inventor of the lyre.
Music and healing are part of each other, and current research is pointing to that more and more. Recent studies have shown that music can slow down and help balance brain waves, reduce tension and stress by affecting endorphin levels, reduce physical tension by changing the vibrational frequency of cells, and even evoke feelings of love and inner peace.
Of course, if music can slow down your body’s rhythms and effect soothing, peace and healing, it can also have the opposite effect. A well-chosen set of music can help energize you and prepare you to work hard and be creative. Studies have also shown that athletes working out and practicing to music use more energy, stretch themselves further and burn more calories than those who work without music.
There’s a great deal of information available now about music and healing. Sound healing, music therapy, and the power of sound to effect changes in the mind, body and spirit are becoming more and more accepted. It’s sometimes difficult to tell how much is true and how much is marketing hype.
I became interested in the healing power of music as a by-product of trying to produce the most beautiful music possible. Years back, Leonard Bernstein invited me to perform as concertmaster in the world premiere his production of Mass. While there, he invited me along to speak with management and producers in the recording industry.
I learned from them, to my surprise, that the violin, the instrument that I consider the most beautiful and evocative of any, was not considered by the recording industry to be a marketable sound – that people would not buy recordings that featured the violin.
That piece of news amazed me. To me, the violin is the most beautiful, evocative and versatile instrument ever created. In the hands of a skilled musician, the violin can gloat, laugh, exult or cry. It can express nearly any emotion that humans can feel in their hearts and souls. I challenged myself then to produce works of music that presented the violin as I know it – the evocative and expressive voice of the soul.
That was the beginning of my own music label and catalog, Li-Sem Enterprises. As it grew, I began to hear from those who work in the fields of healing, both the traditional hospitals and doctors’ offices, and those working in CAM (complementary and alternative medicine), telling me that they were using my music in their practices, to enhance meditation, focus awareness and evoke emotions.
Perhaps the most potent, powerful story that I heard was that of a teenage boy diagnosed with schizophrenia who did not speak at all, but who, while listening to my CD Fragrance of a Dream, looked up and said, “This music is so beautiful it breaks your heart.”
Those stories and touches from others led me to begin exploring the world of healing with sound and music, and what I find both amazes me and confirms my own belief that music is one of the most potent healing tools the world has ever possessed. I am still very much a student, a pilgrim on a quest to learn all that I can about the ways that different tones, vibrations and sounds can affect the body and attune with the emotions and the spiritual.
It is a wonderful journey, and one that I intend to share with as many people as I can. As a beginning of that sharing, here are some things that I have learned, and that I believe about how music helps to heal and regenerate the body.
1. Your body will heal itself if you give it the right tools. I believe that some music can help your body to heal by helping it to realign its balance. At the same time, it is far too early in the research for anyone to tell you which musical selections will heal a specific medical condition. I would be irresponsible if I recommended that music replace other more traditional forms of healing and therapy. Music is a complementary way to give your body the tools that it needs to help itself heal.
2. One of the most important and effective things that you can do for your body is to help it relax into a meditative state. There is a great deal of research to support that a state of meditative calm inspires your body and your mind to renew itself.
3. Sound is one of the best tools for inspiring the meditative state in which your body is receptive to healing and renewal – but it is important to choose your music carefully. Some music – classical music in particular – seems to go there instinctively, but most music was not designed to relax you.
We are barely beginning to understand the ways that music affects us and effects healing in us. The research is exciting and ongoing, and I spend a great deal of time working with different bodies of healers in various fields to aid this research in all the ways that I can.
I incorporate what I have learned into the production of the titles and arrangements chosen for every new Li-Sem Catalog release in the hopes that this wonderful gift that I was given, the gift of making music, can become a gift to others – one that helps heal and refresh and renew, and in the process becomes part of a positive change in the world.