Friday, November 14, 2014

The Practice--Finding the Next Best Thought Using Music

Photo by Patricia Herlevi
I found the work of Abraham-Hicks a boon in my life.  Not only that, the practice of aligning with the Vortex or the Source has shown me that all music plays a part in climbing up the emotional scale.  For the following exercise we will travel from depression/hopelessness to hope using four songs found on YouTube.

I came up with this concept after watching a Teal Swan video about Spiraling Negativity I watched on YouTube.  She borrowed Abraham-Hicks' emotional scale in finding the better feeling mood.  If we feel depressed we can't take the leap to happiness.  This is why telling someone in despair to think positive thoughts proves impossible.  You can't get there from there as Abraham tells us through Esther Hicks, just like you can't get from Boston to San Francisco without traveling the route.

So I'm using the example of a relationship breakup which leaves most people in despair unless they're one of the rare folks that feels liberated and enjoys the forward process of moving on.  I'm including the song "Valentine's Day" by Billy Bragg because along with Carole King's "It's Too Late" this song captures the energy of despair and if you're already there this acts as a launching off point.  Start where you are, not where you would like to be.

Next let's take a step up the ladder to anger since this emotion brings relief to depression.  I'm choosing a song by Tori Amos since this artist conveys this emotion well without saturating us in it.

From anger, we move to pessimism. Again, I'm turning to Billy Bragg since he's clever with conveying this emotion in his songs.

Finally, for hope, I'm including Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now" but I could easily substitute songs by Stevie Wonder who has a repertoire of hopeful songs.

For someone enduring a recent breakup, repeat this exercise several times a day until you actually start feeling hopeful.  Remember that breakups require a grieving process so practice patience and self-care.  If this exercise does not apply to you directly then share it with a friend, colleague or client who would benefit.

Note: I used pop songs for this post, but you can substitute other types of music and then end the session with sound healing tools, such as tuning forks or singing bowls.  Toning also works. If you know the key of the person you're working with, use that key for sound healing work.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Practice--Raising Consciousness with Classical Music

Orpheus, Wikipedia
I'm including another excerpt from my book Whole Music (Soul Food for the Mind Body Spirit).  

If you are an agent or book publisher interested in this title, please contact me at wholemusicexp at gmail dot com.

This exercise comes from the end of Chapter 8.

The Practice--The Art of Listening

The first music appreciation class I took in college featured classical music.  While you could do the following practice with any genre of music, for this session, I ask you to choose one piece of music by a single composer from baroque to contemporary classical music.  For example, you could choose a cello suite by J.S. Bach which would land you in the heart of the baroque period or you could choose Appalachian Spring by contemporary American composer Aaron Copland.

For one week, listen to only listen to this piece of music.  You can listen to the music via headphones or play it within the ambiance of a room.  Listen for changes in key, rhythm, musical themes.

If you don’t find it too distracting, read information on the piece of music, the composer, and the period in which the music was composed.

When you have completed this process and feel that you have delved deep enough into your chosen piece of music, write about your experiences in your music journal while responding to the following questions:

·                     What emotions or images was the composer conveying through the music?
·                     Were you able to distinguish key, tempo, or changes of tone?
·                     Did you ever feel at-one with the composer or the music?
·                     Did this music lead you to other works by this composer or era?
·                     Do you have any emotional, mental or physical changes to report after spending an intensive week with this music?
·                     What images came to mind when listening to this piece of music?

Refer back to your entries in you music diary months from, even a year or two from now, then repeat the exercise.

Also visit

The Practice: Healing Frequencies, Scales and Modes

For the past two months I experienced re-set on my life.  And during this phase, I have relied heavily on frequency and Solfeggio scales featured on YouTube.  I have found the scales, tones and frequencies of sound healing videos extremely healthy.  And in fact, I have spent more time listening to the scales than actual music.  Here are some of my favorites.

Miracle of Frequencies 528 Hz (This is a short documentary)

Here is an enchanting piece of music featuring Archangel Raphael

I have also listened to music by Sabra Sibrena off her recordings,  

Reiki Master Susan Wilbanks also uses beautiful music with her healings

Finally, Ki Kaz provides frequency transformation videos with sound healing tones

Thursday, October 9, 2014

FYI: Sound Healer Interview on the Cari Murphy Radio Show

I listened to Cari Murphy's interview with sound healer David Jesse Kennet

Includes healing allergies through sound healing!

And Cari Murphy's interview with musician Paul Luftenegger

Music that clears the Heart Chakra & more.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

In Conversation--Songs of Holy Toledo

Ana Alcaide (Photo in Google Images)
Where Swedish, Spanish and Jewish Cultures Meet 

In 2012, I discovered Sephardic (Jewish) songs of Toledo via Ana Alcaide, a Spanish traditional musician.  After watching Alcaide's stunning YouTube videos in which she plays the Swedish keyed fiddle (nyckelharpa) and sings Ladino (Spanish Jewish culture) songs, I thought of interviewing the musician for this blog.

I encourage anyone reading this to check out Ana Alcaide's videos on YouTube because you will learn a lot from this fascinating woman who bridges the scientific world with the musical one. 

I caught up with Ana via e-mail and I'm honored to include her on this blog of musical healers.

WME: How do your biology studies wed with your musical explorations? I ask this question because some musicians have taken music into the natural realm or have found musical aspiration from nature.

Ana Alcaide: Right! In fact, nature is one of my great sources of inspiration. As a biologist, I keep a the spirit of curiosity when I approach to music traditions. I always do some kind of ‘research’ on the traditional material I work through. For me is important to keep this part, even though  I take musical freedom afterwards.

WME: Did you have an interest in Sephardic songs prior to moving to Toledo or did you discover these songs and tradition in Toledo?

AA: Yes, it was the fact of living in Toledo what made me ‘encounter’ the Sephardic tradition. During many years I lived in the Jewish quarter of the city, and I could feel all this influence in the streets, in the stones, in the atmosphere around me. So I felt very attracted of knowing more about it. I mainly did it because of aesthetic reasons. For me, Sephardic music represents the beauty of simplicity.

WME: I love the concept of taking traditional music to the everyday person on the street. Was Toledo the first city where you played music on the streets? What inspired this idea?

AA: The first place in which I did it was Copenhagen, many years ago, with a group of friends. Toledo is a good place to play in the streets, because is full of charming and lovely corners in which you actually feel like playing there! Of course, I enjoy doing it. I like to share the music and open it to everybody, to ‘serve’ people doing what you can do. Personally is a very challenging experience. You have to ‘build up’ every single moment. What you get from the people reflects how you feel and what you are in that moment. I learn a lot from doing it, even though not always you feel in the right mood to do it.

WME: You mentioned in two interviews I've read that the Spanish government doesn't support Spanish traditional or folk music.  Is this a regional problem or does it involved the entire country?

AA: Well, I don´t like to generalize. I also feel grateful to all the support I receive. I would say that as an artist, it´s hard to get support because there are not many open vĂ­as to do it. Specially, in the recent years the situation has become harder.

WME: I ask this question because as a music journalist, I have received Spanish folk recordings from Galicia and the Catalan region that have cultural organizations supporting them. Galicia has a strong folk music community with record labels and music festivals featuring folk traditions.  I can even begin to tell you the number of Spanish folk recordings sent to me over the years, granted it pales in comparison to the pop music industry, but I'm still impressed.

AA: I consider that Galicia, Catalunya, also Basque Country, support their traditions in a more committed way. As they feel to have their own cultural identity, they want to emphasize it. So all cultural expressions emphasizing their particular identity is much supported, if you compare it to what is done in other regions of Spain (of course, this is a general feeling, I don´t want to generalize).

WME: I am interested in your connection to Mexico. What types of music traditions did you discover in Mexico during your time there? Did you fall in love with any of the Mexican traditional instruments, mainly lutes and harps?

AA: Well, my connection with Mexico is more personal than musical. I was studying Biology in Baja California for some months with a scholarship, and later I visited the country for personal motivations. I feel deeply attracted to their culture, and the connection was immediate, who knows why? Of course I also enjoy it musically, the country is huge and they have so many different traditions reflecting the spirit of the people. I really like their vital happiness, and the way they understand and celebrate life and death.

WME: You recorded a tragic song, The Bitter Well which features a relationship between a Jewish girl and a Christian boy.  It reminds of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet where two rival families destroy the love of a young couple through their prejudices.  This song is healing in that it provides a moral tale of the destruction of prejudices.  What inspired you to compose a song based on this tragic story?

AA: In my last album I wanted to introduce a legend related to the sephardic people, so I decided chose this one. It represents what you mention and it´s actually one of the most well known legends of Toledo… perhaps because it´s so dramatic? People like that! I also chose it because the bitter well is a real place which you can actually pass through, it which gives name to a Street of Toledo –you can find the place along the Street. It´s also very close to one of my favourites spots to play in Toledo, very near the catedral, so it also have a personal meaning to me.

WME: When you composed the music did you already hear the musical arrangement that appears on the album, La Cantiga Del Fuego?

AA: Not in all of the songs. I mostly ‘listen’ the atmosphere I want to create with each song. Even though the arrangements were clear, in some points it was open to the musicians who collaborated -specially percussions- So there are parts and sounds that were not exactly ‘planned’ like that. It was a very good working experience with a big team of great musicians!


Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Practice--Purposeful Music for Creativity & Artistic Pursuits

Mural at Boulevard Park, Bellingham, Washington

Perhaps I take for granted my multimedia approach to artistic projects.  Art involves all the senses, even the 6th sense to such a degree that it seems foolish not to play music in the foreground or background when in the throes of making art.

For instance, some writers prefer silence or the birds in trees or wind flowing through an open window while other writers play their favorite music to get them into the flow.  So let's look at the musical benefits for writers, both fiction and non-fiction.

As we know music creates flow and works different parts of our brain with some music bridging the gap between the left and right hemispheres. For writers who are also musicians, taking a music break.  Playing an instrument or singing enhances our creative problem-solving abilities while engaging us deeper into the flow.  Certain types of music also uplift us, put us in a good mood, and help us to release doubts, worries, fear and anxiety.  I recommend sound healing, especially Reiki healing videos you can find on YouTube.

Writers and I would imagine, all artists benefit from using brainwave enhancing CDs.  These recordings feature Alpha, Beta, Theta and Delta brainwaves, but use the brainwave recording that keeps you alert and focused as opposed to tempting you to take a snooze early in the day.  Check out the label Sounds True for these types of recordings.

Music helps us to create movies or flowing images in our minds. If we are writing flowing literary fiction for instance, then listening to classical or melodic music that moves at a slow to medium pace works best.  People who write action-packed novels would do better to listen to faster paced music.  Also match the music with the setting and personality of the characters in your stories.  I select pieces of music as themes or motifs because my novels and short fiction run like movies in my head and there are few movies without musical soundtracks.  The music also keeps me awake when I feel exhausted and don't feel like writing.  In this regard, I use music to keep me motivated and on track.

Painters, sculptors and other designers benefits from playing music in the background too.  I don't think I've ever visited an artist studio where music of some kind or another wasn't playing in the background.  Some artists use the music as motivation or as a way to create rhythm and tone in their work.  Since music also is made up frequencies and vibrations, the artwork exposed to music absorbs those energies, in the same way that Dr. Masaru Emoto's water absorbed musical vibration from musical recordings.  And if the patrons are sensitive types, they pick up on the musical vibes in the artwork on a subtle level.

Since art involves reflective and active periods, listening to music also enhances the imagination or daydreaming stages that occur before we manifest our work in the world. Music helps make the intangible tangible by revving up our imaginations and recharging our passion to create something new.  Music inspires us and sometimes the themes of the music creates the art.

Of course we know that music plays a huge role in the performing arts, but music enhances the creative process period whether we're designing a new line of clothing, cuisine, a new living space, or woodworking.  However, having said that, watch out for and eliminate the following:

  • Music that distracts 
  • Music that depresses or causes anxiety
  • Music that takes over the senses 
  • Music that puts us to sleep
  • Music that jars the senses and leaves us feeling hyperactive 
  • Music that feels like a drug

The key is to use music to enhance the artistic experience and not to show off musical tastes.  Exploring different types of music also enhances the artistic experience because this process opens our minds and our hearts.  When we open our hearts with music, everything flows, including prosperity into our bank accounts and patrons for our work.  Try it.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

21st Century Musical Healer--Cedar Songs

Peter Ali
On the Solstice, I felt exhausted, but I wanted to check out the Fairhaven District Art Walk.  So I dragged myself by bus to the event.  When I stepped into Village Books, I heard Peter Ali talking about his introduction to Native American and other traditional flutes.

While I was only planning on staying for one or two songs (since I wanted to see as much art as possible), I ended up staying much longer.  I found Peter engaging as he shared stories about his life experiences in relationship to his flute.  One of those stories involved performing for the 14th Dalai Lama and another story revolved around surviving cancer and its brutal chemo treatment.

However on that particular evening, I felt drawn to the soothing qualities of Indigenous flutes and Peter's healing stories that went along with his improvised songs. Coming from mixed heritage, Peter could call himself a true world citizen and one with a healing heart.  So let's celebrate another 21st Century Musical Healer.

Whole Music Exp: You had mentioned that a loss (divorce) brought the Native American flute into your life and that the flute brought healing to you. Will you describe briefly this experience of the flute bringing you healing and how the flute came to you at the right time? 

Peter Ali: The hurting of going through a divorce was being separated from my kid and not understanding why my then wife refused counseling. I was extremely stressed from also working fewer hours due to lack of work and having no family in this State to reach out to. The Native flute came into my life just in time on a summer day during an annual art festival in Poulsbo. I could hear the sound of the Native flute being played and I was drawn to the vendor booth that was selling them, hence meeting the Stewart family/Stellar flutes. 

WME: Please tell me the story of how you discovered additional healing powers of your flutes when you were undergoing chemotherapy and that you now play flute for cancer patients to bring them stress relief. 

PA: Prior to being diagnosed with cancer I played the flute as way to connect with my ancestors and create community (I and an old girl friend hosted several Native flute circles at one time). I found that playing the flute had a calming effect and that sometimes I could tune out everything else. The idea of playing while undergoing chemo was my way of calming everyone else around me in the infusion area, including patients, staff and me. Cancer changed my outlook on life to where I feel everyday is a blessing. I'm glad that I get to stick around so I give back by sometimes just dropping by the cancer center where I was treated and play a few songs to encourage the patients to stay positive and that they will be okay through all this. 

WME: You teach students Native American flute and when you give presentations you include history and other information about each of your unique flutes. Do you ever feel like you are an ambassador of traditional flutes? 

PA: Yes, I totally feel like an ambassador as you mention. I'm glad for my mixed ancestry and it allows me to share who I am, having parents from different countries, languages, belief systems, etc.  I have played in many spiritual communities. Playing for the Dalai Lama (Seeds of Compassion Tour) has been the highlight of my short career, next to playing for cancer patients, tribes, multicultural events, foster Native youth programs and.....just sometimes giving a flute to someone who is hurting. 

WME: Finally, how has your unique heritage brought the flutes into your life? And it seems that the flutes have also led you back to your deeper roots too. 

PA: Somehow, I'd been playing flute for some time and not knowing that flute playing was in my blood as it came very natural to me having no musical past really. (I did take trumpet in grade school but dropped out as I found having to read music was frustrating). 

Imagine the surprise when I learned from my father after I played a song for him on my Native flute when he told me, "Your grandfather was a flute player, he played at weddings and ceremonies." So I asked him why didn't you tell me this when I was young? His answer was, "I didn't think it was important." Now when I'm doing my presentations especially with tribal youth I tell them how important it is to ask questions, such as, “Who am I?” 

In closing, the Native American flute as well as, the Middle Eastern and Norwegian flute I play, brings me peace in many ways. It helps me connect to people from all walks and paths of life, it keeps me humble and grounded, it creates community and it is how I meditate. It’s how I pray and talk to the ancestors. 

Find Peter on Face Book: