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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Music Therapy

Sounds of Healing: A Physician Reveals the Therapeutic Power of Sound, Voice, and Music by Mitchell L. Gaynor (Broadway Books) "My belief is that we can all find the rhythms and harmonics of our celestial music, and that our efforts will enable us to live extraordinary lives filled with peace, passion, health, and a sense of unity with the universe."

We are all familiar with the tremendous power of sound to energize our bodies and soothe our spirits, whether we experience it in the form of rousing music or in the hushed noise of waves on a beach at night. A pioneer in the revolutionary new field of sound medicine, Dr. Mitchell Gaynor, a leading oncologist and director of integrative medicine at the Strang-Cornell Cancer Prevention Center, has been using sound as complementary therapy in the form of chanting, music, and quartz crystal bowls to treat patients since 1991 with remarkable results. In Sounds of Healing, he shares his philosophy and sound-based techniques for self-healing, which can be used by anyone, whether faced with a life-threatening disease or simply seeking relief from the stresses of daily life.

Sound, voice, and music are potent tools for restoring the inner balance of the body and awakening the spirit. Dr. Gaynor explores the science behind how and why sound and vibration affect us on a physiological level and outlines the sound traditions and practices that promote relaxation and body-mind healing. Rooted in the musical principles of entrainment, resonance, toning, and harmonics, his methods help us achieve overall wellness, greater energy, and the realization of our highest spiritual potential.

His easy-to-follow exercises include: 

  • Life Songs--Discover your personal, mantra-like song that resonates with your own particular essence and use it as a means to healing and self-discovery
  • Essence Sound Meditation--Use your voice or another instrument to help you rise above everyday worries, relieve stress, and begin the healing process
  • Energetic Re-creation--Give voice to your emotional conflicts and create new blends of sound to help you resolve them

Dr. Gaynor also describes his unique vision for a holistic approach to medicine that treats the whole person and creates the conditions for a higher quality of life. An extraordinary blend of science, music, and spirituality, Sounds of Healing is an enlightening, inspiring guide to fostering inner harmony and tuning in to the music of our own souls. Dr. Gaynor integrates sound and emotion as powerful tools in his medical arsenal leading his patients back to health. His use of the healing power of sound compliments the use of conventional medicine. Dr. Gaynor's guided meditations have helped achieve living miracles in "terminal" patients. This book reaffirms anything is possible when we discover what made us ill and how we can rebuild our lives during and after illness. This book is a priceless road map to self-discovery and joy.

The Power of Sound: Using Psychoacoustics for Improved Learning and Performance. Includes a 60 minute Music CD by Joshua Leeds (Healing Arts Press, Inner Traditions). What we hear--and how we process it--has a far greater impact on our daily living than we realize. From the womb to the moment we die we are inescapably surrounded by sound, and what we hear can either energize or deplete our nervous systems. It is no exaggeration to say that what goes into our ears can harm us or heal us.

In The Power of Sound Joshua Leeds explores the importance of healthy auditory function. He investigates how noise- or stress-induced auditory dysfunction may result in difficulties in learning, communication, and social interactions, and he explains new techniques designed to invigorate auditory skills. The accompanying CD of psychoacoustically refined classical music provides immediate examples of the benefits of music explained in the book. Readers can experience the effects of a variety of sounds and begin the life-enhancing design of their own soundscapes "Our relationship with the world, " Leeds says, "is completely impacted by our ability to process a full spectrum of tone. Auditory sequential process is a cornerstone of short-term memory that is the basis for all thinking. Speaking, listening, learning and physical balance are all impacted by a healthy ear." All in all, sound plays a far greater role in our daily lives than we ever imagined.

Leeds is an expert in the new field of psychoacoustics -- the study of the effects of music and sound on the human nervous system. He's also a pioneer in psychoacoustic music creation, having produced many special classical music programs for therapeutic, education and business applications.

For those dealing with learning disabilities, difficulties with concentration, emotional reactivity and other modern ailments, Leeds discusses the auditory mechanism as a possible point of remediation. Easy-to-implement sound solutions for enhanced health and peak performance are also included. While scientifically substantial, The Power of Sound is a very accessible read for the layperson. It is a great resource in a groundbreaking field. "Soundwork," says Leeds, "will have tremendous significance in this decade as scientists continue to look to music and sound to enhance health, learning and productivity."

Part One: Sound
1. What Is Sound?
2. The Physics of Sound
3. The Mechanics of Hearing
4. Resonance and Entrainment
5. Frequency Medicine: The Work of Alfred Tomatis
6. Neurodevelopmental Auditory Training: The Work of Robert J. Doman Jr.
Part Two: Sound Awareness
7. A New Awareness of Sound
8. Sonic Safety
9. Music and Sound in Your Life
Part Three: A Guide to Soundwork Techniques and Applications
10. A Matter of distinctions
11. The Building Blocks of Therapeutic Sound
12. Sonic Neurotechnologies
13. Applied Psychoacoustics for Healthcare Practitioners
A The Anatomy of Psychoacoustic Music Creation
B Stress-Induced Auditory Dysfunction
C Core Principles of Alfred Tomatis
D Tomatis: Revising the Map of the Musician's Odyssey
E The Birth of a Sound Therapy: Alexander Doman
F Music Therapy
Sound Remedies Catalog
Music for the Power of Sound CD Track Listing
Soundwork Resources

The Mozart Effect: Tapping the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind and Unlock the Creative Spirit by Don G. Campbell (Avon Books) was a phenomenal seller to reintroduce the effect of aural environment on the development of intelligence. You know that music can affect your mood it can make you feel happy, enchanted, inspired, wistful, excited, empowered, comforted, heroic. But music has an even more astonishing power, one you may have suspected from your own experience, but which you will now learn well documented. Quite simply, music is good for you-physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Particular sounds, tones and rhythms, especially the music of Mozart, Gregorian chant, and some jazz, New Age, Latin, pop, and even rock music, can strengthen the mind, unlock the creative spirit, and, miraculously, even heal the body. This remarkable phenomenon is called The Mozart Effect.Stimulating, authoritative, and often lyrical, The Mozart Effect offers dramatic accounts of how doctors, shamans, musicians, and health care professionals use music to deal with everything from anxiety to cancer, high blood pressure, chronic pain, dyslexia, even mental illness. Students who sing or play an instrument score up to 51 points higher on SAT than the national average. During strenuous exercise, the upbeat music of Diana Ross can lessen fatigue and release endorphins, the body's natural painkillers. The director of a Baltimore hospital's coronary care unit says that half an hour of classical music produces the same effect as ten milligrams of Valium. And now, whatever your listening taste, Don Campbell explains how to make the Mozart Effect work for you. The Mozart Effect Boxed Set (Music for Children) provides a music CD for direct experience of the work.

Heal Yourself With Sound and Music Audio CD by Don Campbell (Sounds True)

Healing With Great Music, Audio Cassette by Don Campbell (Sounds True) Listeners explore the phenomenal effects of sound on human physiology with the respected founder of the Institute for Music, Health, and Education. The author of eight seminal books on sound and healing, including" The Mozart Effect", Campbell unveils new insights about the layer of information within music that does not necessarily meet the ear, but has profound implications for enhancing health and intelligence.

Healing Yourself With Your Own Voice, Audio Cassette by Don Campbell (Sounds True) An early work by a major innovator in music therapy. Campbell explains why our own voice recorded and liberated with toneing vowel and chants can free emotional space and set in action liberating and healing effects within our bodies.

Flight: Rhiannon's Interactive Guide to Vocal Improvisation by Rhiannon Audio CD programs (Sounds True) (Audio Cassette Abridged)

MOZART FOR ACCELERATED LEARNING by Roland Roberts 2 Music CDs (Crown House) (Audio Cassette Abridged)

PASSIVE MUSIC FOR ACCELERATED LEARNING by Roland Roberts 2 Music CDs (Crown House) (Audio Cassette Abridged)

Significant evidence has shown that particular types of music can improve our ability to learn. Baroque music is particularly conducive as it helps us to attain a state of relaxed alertness, known as the "alpha state", which is so beneficial to effective study. While in the alpha state, a person is able to learn in a stress-free, high-energy environment. When classical music of around 60 beats per minute is arranged and performed on a synthesiser, the results are even more effective. Crown House Publishing has exclusively commissioned ex-Fulbright scholar and Master of Music, Roland Roberts, to arrange two hours of Mozart's most suitable pieces of 'Passive Music' specifically for the purpose of accelerating your learning. Specially arranged, these CDs/audiotapes are newly recorded productions. As background music when studying, they will help to accelerate the pace of learning effortlessly.

High Performance Mind: Mastering Brainwaves for Relaxation, Insight, Healing and Creativity by Anna Wise (Relaxation Company). This program includes four CDs drawing on the four essential categories of brain waves and their diverse contributions to wellness and wholeness of mind. The final product is based upon modern research, considering the various strengths of ancient techniques. Relax and do the entire program! Time requirements are very reasonable. Something good is clearly going on here. I listen to these tapes while walking; and the effect on my well-being is stunning. The authors method is simple: brain waves profoundly affect outlook and brainwaves respond easily to simple meditation techniques.

The New Age Elixir
by Lisa Summer with Joseph Summer
Prometheus Books Publishers, 59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, New York 14228-2197 Phone: (716) 691-0133 (800) 421-0351 FAX (716) 691-0137
$25.95, hardcover, 301 pages, notes, bibliography, index
music therapy and magical thinking

Music has an undeniable power and pervasive effect that touches the heart of all people. Every culture has some form of music to celebrate triumphs, mourn losses, enhance intimacy, and heighten tribal or national pride in peace and wartime. Music knows no skepticism. Its effect inspires the scientist and poet alike. Recently there have been many extravagant and downright foolhardy claims about the power of music. There is also much serious research and new theoretical interpretations and use of music in hospital settings. But does music itself heal? As some New Age adepts claim? On what evidence and research are such claims based? Music therapy director Summer explores these questions in Music: The New Age Elixir.
Capitalizing not only on music's ability to stir the emotions but on today's trendy search for alternative realities, a host of New Age "music healers" have emerged offering unbelievable claims about the effects of music. This heterogeneous group includes composers, researchers, and therapists who contend that their music can cure cancer, meliorate the effects of AIDS, modify addictive behavior through subliminal messages, and rid fields of harmful insects better than pesticides. Scholars and scientists have been reluctant to examine such improbable assertions because the dubiety inherent in the effects of music make it difficult to rate using the scientific method. Hence the lack of definition in the effects of music has proved to be a fertile field for imposture and prevarication.
In Music: The New Age Elixir, Summer offers a critique of many of the unfounded pretensions made by New Age music healers. She debunks current fads and exposes the erroneous reasoning and lack of knowledge that undermines the music healer's practice. Blending humor with hard-hitting criticism and offering musical examples from such diverse sources as Africa, India, Indonesia, and the West, Summer explains to readers the real power of music and its legitimate use in therapeutic practice. This work offers a useful antidote to the more extravagant claims of the power of music, shifting the focus to the human nervous system’s ability to respond and express itself through music.

Lisa Summer is assistant professor and the director of music therapy at Anna Maria College in Paxton, MA. She is coordinator of the Guided Imagery and Music Programs at The Bonny Foundation, and author of Guided Imagery and Music in the Institutional Setting. Joseph Summer is a composer and an expert on acoustics and music technology.

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