To Play or Not to Play

Saturday, May 16th, 2009

I think about this topic a lot because I see many people around me who are fearful and/or frustrated with their lives.  Worse, I’m reminded by some that I can’t possibly relate because I’m one of those fortunate ones that supposedly has the time and resources to PLAY – I humbly disagree, but I understand the argument.

I wish I could tell you that I did so at that time with the insight shared by Dr. Stuart Brown in his presentation below…   For me, it was much more fundamental:  I might have been outwardly successful, but I sure wasn’t having much fun – and therefore, wasn’t very happy.  So, I simply rebelled against the establishment.

Since then, I’ve become far more aware of the relationship between Productivity, Creativity, and Happiness – and I’ve come to believe that PLAY underpins it all. It is indeed a strange paradox…  But during times like these, I feel it is more important than ever to embrace this and raise the level of awareness.

The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them – Albert Einstein

Unfortunately, this approach is counter-intuitive to many cultures and organizations – the USA being the foremost example.   But the “treadmill” of modern society doesn’t prevent you from making your own choices, from writing your own “life song” so to speak.  Dr. Brown explains how and why this is so important in the video below.   His presentation runs for nearly 30-minutes so I realize that’s asking for a lot given today’s norm; but trust me, it’s worth every minute of your attention.  Besides, it’s the weekend here in “Sunny So CAL” and I’m itching to get out and PLAY!

Music, Wellness, and You

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

It is a great pleasure to introduce everyone to Kimberly Sena Moore, MM, NMT, MT-BC.  Kimberly and I became acquainted on Twitter, and I found myself so intrigued by her stated profession – Music Therapy – that I asked her to consider developing a series of guest posts – and she kindly accepted with great enthusiasm!

What is Music Therapy?

“So, what do you do?”

“I’m a music therapist.”


“Really?  Music therapy?  What’s that…?”

I have had that exchange hundreds of times, and have gotten pretty good at giving an “elevator pitch” on music therapy.  It goes something like this:

“Well, we use music to help people.  How we help them depends on whom we work with. We can use the rhythm in music to help a stroke victim re-learn how to walk and talk. We can use music and music-based experiences to help a child with autism practice pro-social skills and learn how to communicate. We can use music to help reduce pain and anxiety in cancer patients and to help trauma-influenced children heal.”

Most people, when they hear the words “music therapy” are curious and want to learn more. I feel this is because most of us are touched by music. We have deep emotional connections to certain songs.  Maybe hearing a certain tune on the radio reminds you of your first love.  We have our songs we turn to when we feel angry, sad, or happy.  And music has deep cultural ties for us. What to you think of when you hear “Pomp and Circumstance” or “Here Comes the Bride”?  Most people feel music’s influence and therefore have an intuitive understanding that music can be used as therapy.

So, what can it do for you or a loved one?  Consider the following:

  1. First, if you need any type of therapy (physical therapy, occupational therapy, psychotherapy, speech therapy), look into music therapy as an alternative, or complement, to what you are receiving. In the United States, you can find a music therapist through our certification board here. We can use music and music-based experiences to address the same goals other therapists target. It’s noninvasive, safe, and fun! And you do not need to be a musician to be involved in music therapy.
  2. Be conscious about ways you can use music in your life. You can make specific decisions on how to use music to improve your overall wellness and quality of life and wellness. For example, listening to music you like can reduce stress. A report came out on CNN recently about a doctor who used imaging techniques and found that listening to music you like opens up your blood vessels, improving circulation and reducing your stress level. Feeling stressed? Turn up your favorite tune!
  3. Have kids? Enroll them in some sort of music lessons. This can be piano lessons, band class, choir, or orchestra. Study after study have shown that music training improves intelligence in a variety of ways: verbal skills, math skills, motor coordination, and memory functioning. Want your child to be a doctor or lawyer? Most medical and law schools really, really like having students who received a music degree.

Interested in learning more?  A more thorough definition is available on my blog or here for more technical information Or, feel free to contact me.  Happy listening!

About Kimberly

Kimberly Sena Moore is a board-certified music therapist who specializes in trauma and attachment, neurorehabilitation, special needs, and medical therapy treatment. She has advanced training in Neurologic Music Therapy and is active in the music therapy professional locally, regionally, and nationally. Kimberly manages Neurosong Music Therapy Services,  and blogs at www.MusicTherapyMaven.com.  Or, you can follow her, as do I, on Twitter!


How Smart is your Music?

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

I stumbled upon a recent article that I wanted to share…  Apparently, a CalTech Ph.D. student and hacker extraordinaire, Virgil Griffith, has conducted an interesting study which relates music preferences to SAT scores.  If nothing else, it’s an amusing illustration, and not surprisingly most bands sit within the 1000 to 1150 score range because that’s fairly representative of average scores for college bound students – if memory serves me correct.

For me, the problem with this inferred relationship between intelligence and musical preference is that intelligence remains relatively static in relation to musical preference(s), which evolve over time.  For example, Jazz is listed on the low-end of the spectrum – but clearly, the majority of jazz aficionados are well beyond an age bracket coping with SAT scores.  And, with all due respect to Beethoven hovering alone in the rare air of north of 1350, if you’re obsessed with Ludwig at this age, you probably need to get a life and savor your youth!   I’m also intrigued by the apparent gap between 1250 and 1350 – how can that be so?   I hope that doesn’t imply being “tasteless” because that’s about where yours truly landed :(


Credit: musicthatmakesyoudumb.virgil.gr

I am a professional hobbyist when it comes to this.   Though my relationship with the piano began at a young age, I only recently pulled off the gloves to rekindle it and haven’t looked back since.   This was partly inspired by huge advancements in music production technology now available to all  – and from the comfort and privacy of your home!   I’ve never subscribed much to job titles so I won’t attempt to label my genre.  Besides, composing music mirrors life in that there are really only two ways to write a song: your way, and the wrong way. 

Thank you for your interest and encouragement.