Here is an interesting article about Arthur Bloom who founded a non-profit in 2007 to help wounded soldiers heal.
When I moved from New York to Sedona, AZ, I had no idea that I was on my way to starting “Healing Piano of Sedona.” I had just finished recording “Healing Piano of Sedona for massage, yoga and relaxation” but the idea for the album was to have the music do the healing and relaxing without personal involvement. When I arrived in Sedona and set up my piano studio with my Steinway B, the idea of actually working with people directly came to me. I created a rolling relaxation platform so that I could wheel clients under the piano to the perfect place where the vibrations of the strings could go directly into the body.
For most of my life as a musician the focus had been related to ego and personality. I enjoyed playing music and have played professionally for half of a century. But most of it was about me and my career. Eight years ago my music became part of my life’s mission, to create a more loving and peaceful world by writing, recording and performing music from the heart. The focus of my music became more about how I could do something for the greater good that was outside of myself. About 3 years ago, I began to live my life joyously for the first time in my life. And with this new way of living, I began to see all the pain and suffering in so many people that I crossed paths with. I added a second mission, to inspire people to live joyously and passionately. And finally, with the creation of “Healing Piano of Sedona,” a third mission came to be, which is to awaken and assist people in healing themselves through music and mentoring using the ideas of George Gurdjieff and Peter Ouspensky, work that I have doing for the past 35 years.
People who come for a healing session walk out with a piece of music that is composed for them to personally assist them in the work that they need to do to be able to live life in a healthier way. It is an anchor for their work that goes directly into the heart and body and bypasses the mechanical thinking mind. It has been quite effective. As a result of many of the sessions I have done, I ended up with a new album of some of the best music I have ever released. It is called, “Healing Hearts – Solo Piano,” and was released on October 1, 2014.
About the author
Louis Landon is a Steinway Artist, formerly of New York and currently of Sedona, who has dedicated his life to music. His passion is for peace. His career has taken him around the world playing a variety of styles with some of the most recognized names in the enter-tainment industry: classical music for Mikhail Baryshnikov on national and international tours, Latin music with “Pucho and his Latin Soul Brothers” on national and international tours, pop music with Rupert “Pina Colada Song” Holmes on television and national tours, rock & roll with John Hall, opening for “Little Feat” on national tours. For the past 24 years, through his production company, Landon Music, he has written and produced music for film, video, and commercials, including three years of “best plays” and “bloopers” commercials for the National Basketball Association.
In 1984 I had been in sober recovery for a couple of years; I was doing well in college, and enjoying working in my garden. I lived in a lovely two-story red-shingled Craftsman house in Sebastopol, California. Two palm trees graced the front yard; a barn owl lived in one of them. I often found regurgitated rodent skeletons on the lawn under its perch. Two large picture windows flanked the southeast corner of the living room, bathing my baby grand piano in filtered light. When I practiced Chopin’s Military Polonaise I could hear a bird outside trilling the first three notes of the polonaise, our own duet.
Early in the first week of April I’d gone to the OB-GYN for a routine exam, an annual Pap smear. As usual, at the end of the appointment the nurse said, “If you don’t hear from us by next week know that no news is good news.” (The doctor I now see always reports all test results, positive or negative.) I returned home on Friday evening to an ominous message on my answering machine: “The doctor wants to speak to you about your Pap smear results.” I spent a long weekend half convinced that I had six months to live, which I believe is the standard life expectancy to give oneself when having an overly-dramatic reaction. My self-prognosis led me to a thorough review of my life. I concluded I was generally pleased with how things had turned out. But one thought came in a strong way: I wanted to write an opera. This was news to me – I’d written songs for guitar and flute when I was a teenager, but hadn’t written any music since. And I’d never been a fan of opera, apart from “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” by Giancarlo Menotti, which, compared to most operas, is mercifully short and to the point. I was generally of the opinion that most operas contained a few islands of great tunes stranded between vast oceans of long-winded, boring music performed by singers who sounded as if their shoes were laced too tight. So I was surprised when the voice which I recognized as my inner guide suggested that I write an opera.
On Monday when I finally spoke with the doctor it turned out I only had a few abnormal cells that needed to be rechecked in six months. But by that time I knew I wanted to write an opera. I wasn’t sure how to accomplish my new goal, so I contacted Will Johnson, a composer on the faculty at Sonoma State, where I was studying. Could he recommend a book about writing opera? He scratched his head (literally). He couldn’t think of such a book (this was before the advent of the “Idiot’s Guide” series), but he recommended I enroll in a class being offered jointly by the Music and Theater Arts departments, a production of “Twelfth Night“ with incidental music written by music students.
I enrolled in the class and was assigned to write a couple of songs. What a thrill I felt the first time I heard the soprano sing my Malvolio song! The music I had written was haunting and evocative; it expressively portrayed and even enhanced the character’s mood and the scene. Besides feeling pleased with the effectiveness of my work, I felt a connection to a place of profound okay-ness deep inside of me, accompanied by a great high. I was hooked.
After that I wrote a choral piece, some instrumental music, and tried my hand at writing pop songs with sequenced synthesizer tracks. But, even though my main instrument was piano, I didn’t write any solo piano music. I felt intimidated by the grandeur of the masterpieces by Chopin and Beethoven and Debussy I had studied and performed. I thought it would be presumptuous of me to even attempt writing for the piano.
And then my dog, Shana, died. She was a Coonhound I’d inherited from a drinking relationship that went bad. I really lucked out on that one. Coonhounds are an All-American breed of dog. They are extremely loyal and clever, and engender devotion in their human companions – just ask anyone who has their pup buried at the Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard in Alabama. Good old Shana stuck with me through good times and bad. By the end of her life, she was crippled with arthritis, blind, and deaf, but when I put my hand to her nose so she could catch my scent, she wagged her tail. The day after Shana died, I experienced an image of her romping like a youngster in what appeared to be Dog Heaven, chasing butterflies in a sunlit meadow. This scene was accompanied in my head by a piano melody. I sat down at the piano to transcribe the melody – I thought I would write perhaps one page of music to help process my grief; I ended up writing a three movement piano sonata. The piece is called “Shana’s Song.” The movements are “Meadow,” “Mountain,” and “Out,” after a poem by Nathaniel Burt.
Let’s go play in the sun, you and I
hand in hand on the beaches.
At night, over our whispers, hear the sea.
Let’s look into the light, smiling, squinting our eyes.
And you can shake out your hair,
O, into the salt and gleaming wind.
And we shall not go back, not look inside,
close up the starless closet, throw the key.
Let’s drop all thoughts, all deaths, all duties.
Let’s, clean as a shell, like the wind blown free,
be tossed spendthrift, become pure and bare,
Become so shining that we cease to be.
Because of the very personal nature of my feelings about Shana, I could only write her elegy on the instrument most intimate to me, the piano. In the way of dogs, she taught me about unconditional love when she was alive, and in her death she helped open my heart to my own piano music.
About the author
Kate Moody is a recording artist and blogger. Check out her website at www.katemusic.com.
An interesting article from National Geographic discusses studies regarding the effect of music lessons on aging.
A University of Vermont College of Medicine study shows that children that take piano lessons have accelerated development in attention skill, anxiety management, and emotional control.
This article published by Vanderbilt University discusses the role that music therapist Jenny Plume plays in helping children get well.
This article makes the claim that the understanding of how music works in a therapeutic way has rapidly advanced over the past decade.
Biomedical researchers have found that music is a highly structured auditory language involving complex perception, cognition, and motor control in the brain, and thus it can effectively be used to retrain and reeducate the injured brain.
A pianist and a neurosurgeon did a study they called “The Symphonic Suite for Healing.” Here is an article that discusses their results.