by Peter Kater

You’ve worked diligently at your practice. You chose your massage education carefully, studied and trained faithfully. You set up your space to reflect what you think your healing environment should exemplify. You greet your clients respectfully, openly and warmly. You take care of your body, exercise, eat healthy foods and get plenty of rest.

But then you turn on your CD or MP3 player and play some music that has all the nutritional benefits of a greasy cheeseburger and fries.

What? You didn’t read the ingredients?

Music has an all-access pass to you and your clients’ subconscious mind, unconscious emotions and nervous systems. Music bypasses the mind and ego of the listener and directly affects the neurological, endocrinogical, biochemical and nutritional pathways of the human system.

These are proven facts derived through studies in modern science and physics. Music is a not-so-silent partner in your healing practice. It sets the tone and stage, as well as plots the course and mood of your entire session.

Synthesized sounds are the processed foods of the music field. They are high in sugars and unwanted carbs, with limited nutrients and fiber but high in saturated fats. I know it sounds funny, but it’s true: Ever since the digital revolution, anyone with a small budget and a semi-coordinated index finger can play and record synthesized music and call it relaxing, healing or soothing. Sure, it might sound like music, and it might be pleasant to listen to (if you don’t listen too closely) but it’s basically musical fast food.

Many years ago, we all ate at least a little fast food (maybe some of us ate a lot) before all the facts came out about exactly what we were eating. We didn’t stop eating it because it tasted bad or because it was inconvenient; we stopped because we realized our bodies would suffer from it in the future with discomfort and eventually disease.

Face it: We don’t stay away from sugary candies and soft drinks because they taste bad. We don’t choose whole grains instead of highly refined flours because the pastry is too light and fluffy. We avoid them because it’s been proven through our experience and through research that they contain only empty calories, and that over time this type of food can and will undermine our health and immune system, rather than feed and support it.

Here are some sound facts to consider:

1. Music and sound directly influence and affect any biological matter or life form they come in contact with. Physical matter is only a slower vibration of sound, which is only a slower vibration of light, and is transmuted and transformed by higher or lower vibrations of sound depending on the nature and frequency of that sound.

2. Music played and recorded on acoustic instruments is more easily identified, accepted and integrated by the human ear and psyche than synthesized music. This is similar to how whole-food-based vitamins are more easily and completely assimilated and used by the body than cheaper synthetic vitamins.

3. Music that is truly inspired and comes from a deep and genuine place speaks directly to the subconscious mind and emotions of the listener and balances, heals and transforms the listener gently and organically from within.
Just as food that is organically grown and not chemically treated with hormones or preservatives is healthier and more healing for the human body than chemically treated or genetically altered foods.

4. What you leave out is just as important as what you put in it. When I’m food shopping and reading ingredients, I look to see that I’m buying only the food I’m looking for without all the added ingredients, sugars and preservatives. The same is true with music. The ingredients should be whole and organic.

When I play an acoustic grand piano (or any acoustic instrument), I feel the sound resonate from the wood or brass of the instrument, up into the air and through my body. The overtones linger and mingle for many seconds, sometimes minutes. I can feel the warmth of the tone, and therefore play more sensitively, slowly and respectfully. When I play a synthesizer, the overtones either diminish very rapidly or don’t exist at all. The sound decays so quickly and is so thin that I have to play faster, leaving less space between the notes, compensating for the lack of substance and resonance.

I enjoy using Native American and bamboo flutes on many of my recordings for the simple beauty and breathy tone of the instrument. It calls me to a time and place that’s close to nature where I can almost hear the wind through the tall grasses and trees. I like using the cello for its warm, deep resonance; the piano for its crisp clarity and brightness; and the acoustic nylon string guitar for its delicate and classic tone. But let’s not forget the importance of plenty of space within the music to leave room for the listener to easily enter into the musical ambiance.

Music one creates is a reflection of the composer’s inner awareness, wholeness and health. When I’m inspired and coming from the fullness of my being, the music I write and record reflects that state of being and lives within the sound that is created. A musician’s work reflects his inner being, just as children reflect who their parents are. You wouldn’t go see a doctor who was always unkempt and sick, or a therapist whose life was always a mess, would you? So why wouldn’t you research and explore the music you’re going to listen to and play for your clients?

Read the ingredients. Check the nutrients. Have a little taste. Choose delicious music that has lots of whole grains, nutrients and fiber, and is low in sugars and saturated fats.

Then you can feel really good about what you’re playing in your sessions, and know your musical partner is helping make your job easier by working with you to create an environment your clients will truly benefit from.

Peter Kater, MASSAGE MagazinePeter Kater (www.peterkater.com) is an internationally acclaimed pianist, composer and producer who has received four Grammy nominations in the last five years. He has sold millions of CDs and is a proud recipient of the Environmental Leadership Award from the United Nations. His award-winning. five-volume Healing Series and many other recordings are played by thousands of healing practitioners all over the world. Kater and his wife, Gabrielle, a massage therapist, raise their family organically and holistically.

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