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Drawing on the power of music to transform, heal, enlighten and soothe.

By Linda Dessau

Click on the title to go to the Sparker of your choice (Feel free to reprint our Sparkers in your newsletters or send to clients just be sure to attach the copyright info and the link)

Sink into your senses
A great day can start with great music
Music's Place in Time
Use it or lose it
Exuberence
Supporting the arts through fun and frolic
Open the Floodgates
A Mother's Voice
 Music to Motivate
Music to Sleep By
Express whats inside
Music’s place in time
A Gift For the Heart
Piano Play



Sink into your senses by Linda Dessau

"For the maestro, music was sensory, spiritual nourishment" – Michael Gelb, "How to think like Leonardo da Vinci"

The beauty of music is that it crosses boundaries in its capacity to nourish.

Music crosses the boundaries between the senses. When listening to music we use more than just our sense of hearing. Inside the mind we're often creating images and colours, reliving memories and scenes from past experiences or sometimes simply picturing the artist, instrument, music video or concert stage that we associate with the piece.

Music crosses the boundaries of the brain. When listening to music both the right- and left-brain are working, engaged and attentive. The left-brain is analyzing and trying to make sense of this language it's hearing, while the right-brain is receiving the aesthetic qualities of the music and creating emotional responses.

Music crosses cultural boundaries. When listening to music it doesn't matter what language it's in, we can hear and understand the deeper meaning and the soul of the performer coming through.

Music crosses the boundaries of health and ability. In my work as a music therapist I see this every day. When I meet my clients in the music, the veil of disability is completely lifted, and I'm blessed with a connection to a whole and healthy spirit. And as I sing and give myself musically, my whole and healthy spirit shines on through. And in that giving, I receive and I am nourished.

Music nourishes us in body, mind, soul, spirit and love. All of the elements of our being are fed and blessed.

So for 5-15 minutes today, tune out the rest of the world and tune in to one of your favourite recordings. Sink into your senses, your extraordinary cognitive processes, your ability to transcend spoken language and your whole, beautiful spirit.

Sparkers - Musical Musings © 2006 Linda Dessau for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more Sparkers by Linda at www.coachingtoys.com/musicalmusings.html


A great day can start with great music by Linda Dessau

Think about the sounds, images and subsequent thoughts that occur in the earliest parts of your day. TV news, clanging coffee cups, the rattle of the newsprint (coupled with it ' s sensational images), rushing about to get yourself together, and before you know it you ' re on to the day ' s business.

What if your day could start more calmly? What if you could consciously slow your thoughts and keep yourself in the moment?

Purposefully chosen music can create that kind of environment for you. Music that has a strong connection for you – either spiritually or emotionally – can help you start your day with both feet on the ground, with a still mind and an open heart.

For over a year now I ' ve been playing a series of songs for myself in the morning – songs that hold a powerful spiritual connection for me. If I ' m away and can ' t listen as easily, I really notice a difference. In that case I ' ll sing them to myself, or even meditate for a few moments imagining that I ' m hearing one of the songs from start to finish.

Over time I added other meditative and spiritual rituals to my morning routine – but it all started with the music.

Is there a song or a piece of music that evokes a sense of calmness for you? Is there a song that has a strong connection to your spirituality or your emotional wellness? Try making that the first thing you hear in the morning, and see how the rest of your day turns out.

Sparkers - Musical Musings © 2006 Linda Dessau for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more Sparkers by Linda at www.coachingtoys.com/musicalmusings.html


Music's Place in Time by Linda Dessau

Unexpressed emotions can “clutter” our insides, just like broken lamps and unread magazines can clutter our homes. Sometimes music will allow us to get to the feeling that's trapped inside, while bypassing any thought, analysis or conversation about it.

The next time you notice a piece of music is bringing up an emotion in you, take a deep breath and try to stay with it. If you're not in a safe place, then make a note of the music and put it on later.

Music provides a container for deep feelings, since it naturally comes to a close and allows us to wind down with it. Of course our emotions can't be artificially contained to match a 3-minute pop tune and yet if you can really tune in and be present with the music, you can match the piece's natural ebb & flow, including the ending and subsequent release of your emotions.

Sparkers - Musical Musings © 2006 Linda Dessau for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more Sparkers by Linda at www.coachingtoys.com/musicalmusings.html


Use it or lose it by Linda Dessau

An article at CNN.com ( www.cnn.com/HEALTH/library/HA/00001.html ) states, "If you continue to learn and challenge yourself, your brain continues to grow, literally. An active brain produces new connections between nerve cells that allow cells to communicate with one another. This helps your brain store and retrieve information more easily, no matter what your age".

We know that listening to music, learning how to play music, and participating in music-making activities are all ways to keep our minds sharp and infuse our lives with creativity and pleasure.

How can you be more proactive in using music to challenge your mind? Listen to something new.

Whether you search near or far, there's lots of music out there that's different from anything you've heard. Check out something from another part of the world (try http://www.putumayo.com/default.aspx), or purchase the CD of a homegrown singer-songwriter playing in your own neighbourhood.

Wander into a section of the music store you've never explored before, and ask the staff what the big sellers are. For a no-risk trial, see what your public library has in their music department.

Give the music a fair shake, but know that whether you love it or hate it, simply the act of wrapping your ears and your mind around it is doing wonders for your brain.

Sparkers - Musical Musings © 2006 Linda Dessau for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more Sparkers by Linda at www.coachingtoys.com/musicalmusings.html


Exuberence by Linda Dessau

When we feel, we begin to be alive. When we express a feeling, we share with the rest of the world that we are alive. When we express a feeling through music, we invite the rest of the world to share in our experience of the feeling, and to be alive with us. - Source Unknown

When I'm making music – playing or singing – and when I'm completely "in tune" to the experience, I feel so alive, so exuberant and so joyful that I feel like I'm glowing from the inside out (and I've been told that I do!).

My goal as a music therapist is to bring my clients fully into THEIR moment of experiencing the music, so that they can express their exuberance and their joy.

When we're in that place, it's as if a veil was lifted; throwing a light onto our true potential for living and bringing together every part of ourselves – the well, the sick, the healing and the magnificent – into a perfect wholeness.

Last week, I had such a moment. I watched as a client shook a maraca with the power of his entire body, listened as he sang out a tune in wordless ecstasy, and my heart swelled to be part of his expression of joy.

What makes you feel exuberant? When's the last time you lost yourself in the here-and-now? Who have you connected with lately in a moment of joy?

Sparkers - Musical Musings © 2006 Linda Dessau for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more Sparkers by Linda at www.coachingtoys.com/musicalmusings.html


Supporting the arts through fun and frolic by Linda Dessau

Think that you need to make an endowment or have your name engraved in a seat to support the arts? Not so!

Volunteering is a great way to support the arts.

I've volunteered at several events.  While I've certainly enjoyed some great performances, I've also found myself having fun, spending quality time with my boyfriend, feeling very useful, and connecting with people I may never have met otherwise. 

It's so important to me that these community events keep going, and I know that my help makes a difference. While in the future I hope to be doing much more ticket BUYING, you're still likely to find me on the other side of that ticket booth every once in a while.

Where in the arts might you volunteer to make a difference, and give yourself a gift?

Sparkers - Musical Musings © 2005 Linda Dessau for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more Sparkers by Linda at www.coachingtoys.com/musicalmusings.html


Open the Floodgates by Linda Dessau

When I sit down with the mindset that I'm going to "work on" my music, work is usually what I end up doing. It feels difficult and plodding, and the results are usually disappointing as well.

Lately I've been experiencing something much more enjoyable. When I sit down with the mindset that I'm open TO my music, it's like I've opened a floodgate of creativity. I feel confident that wonderful, magical things are going to happen, and so they do!

So many artists speak about a process of surrender – to the unknown, to the universal creative flow, to time, to a higher power. I know that when I surrender and open myself up to universal wisdom and to the wisest parts of myself, I'm capable of brilliance that's just not possible in the field of "work".

How will you surrender your preconceived notions of "work time" and find your own creative flow?

Sparkers - Musical Musings © 2005 Linda Dessau for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more Sparkers by Linda at www.coachingtoys.com/musicalmusings.html


A Mother's Voice by Linda Dessau

I provide music therapy services at a group home once a week. This is not an "ordinary" group home; it's part of an organization that's run by the parents of the children and young adults with multiple disabilities who live there.

I noticed the difference right away when I started working there. I was delighted to see how family members dropped by – not visiting, like you'd visit someone in a hospital or an institution, but truly being part of the household.

When one client's Mom saw me come in, she stopped singing a song to her son, and said she'd better not sing when I'm there because people might compare us.

I quickly told her to keep singing, and reminded her that there will never be a more healing and loving sound that that of a mother's voice to her child.

And it's true – while he certainly responds to music therapy and shows me that enjoys it, he never smiles as wide or giggles as much as he did when his Mom was singing to him that day.

Sparkers - Musical Musings © 2005 Linda Dessau for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more Sparkers by Linda at www.coachingtoys.com/musicalmusings.html


Music to Motivate by Linda Dessau

Music has long been paired with exercise. Savvy instructors choose music that most people in their class can relate to and enjoy; at a tempo that matches the movements they'll be doing. How can you apply this to other tasks that require a little extra motivation?

The next time it's time to dust, vacuum, wash dishes or any other household task that borders on drudgery, experiment with different music choices. There's no exact science, what only matters is how the music affects YOU. Try music with a steady beat and forward momentum to it, music that you associate with happy memories, or music that makes you feel like dancing. Not only will you get the chores finished, you'll also be nurturing yourself with a new self-care ritual that can release the body's natural painkillers ("endorphins") and help you to relax and de-stress. Hey, maybe sometimes you could try it without the dishes!

Sparkers - Musical Musings © 2005 Linda Dessau for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more Sparkers by Linda at www.coachingtoys.com/musicalmusings.html


Music to Sleep By by Linda Dessau

I've been using this technique for many years as an important part of my self-care routine. Sleep is so essential to my physical, emotional and mental well being. If I can practice good self-care and get myself to bed at a good time (preferably 8 to 8.5 hours before I need to wake up), then all I need to do is make sure I can fall asleep once I get there. Music helps me to do that and maybe it can help you.

Experiment with different music until you find something you find soothing and relaxing. Be sure to keep listening past the first few selections, so that you're not surprised by a canon, squealing guitar or enthusiastic drum solo a few songs later.

Of course you can customize your own sleep CD by using your CD burner or making a mixed tape.

Check what your stereo system will do when the recording is finished – does it SNAP! or does it “wrrrr” – this will make a difference as you're drifting off. My CD player makes a very soft "wrrrr" noise (though I honestly can't remember the last time I was still awake when the CD was over).

Music where the soloist takes natural pauses to breathe can help you to slow down your own breath - try flute, other wind instruments or voice. If you choose vocal music, I suggest that it be either pure vocal sounds (no actual words), or words in a language you don't understand. That way your mind won't be stimulated or distracted by the words you're hearing.

Sparkers - Musical Musings © 2005 Linda Dessau for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more Sparkers by Linda at www.coachingtoys.com/musicalmusings.html


Express whats inside by Linda Dessau

Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent. --Victor Hugo

The next time you have something inside you that wants to be expressed, why not reach for a musical instrument?

To start, wander through a music store – specifically the percussion section. Handheld percussion instruments come in tuned (such as xylophones) and un-tuned (such as drums, shakers or tambourines) choices, and generally you can make satisfactory sounds with very little or no training.

You can also find wonderful and unique instruments from all over the world; and you don't need to limit your search to music stores – antique markets, craft shops, even clothing stores sometimes display and sell instruments.

See which instruments call out to you, which ones beg you to be played. Eventually you can build up a small collection, so that when you go to express yourself you can choose the closest fit for what you want to say.

"Free Play": Hold the instrument for a few moments, focusing on your breathing and then let yourself explore both the instrument and your inner landscape and see what comes out.

"Musical Meditation": Ask yourself a question and "play" the answer. Use this technique first thing in the morning to set your intention for the day, or at the end of the day as a way of expressing your appreciation for all that you learned and received that day.

Sparkers - Musical Musings © 2005 Linda Dessau for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more Sparkers by Linda at www.coachingtoys.com/musicalmusings.html


Music’s place in time by Linda Dessau

Unexpressed emotions can “clutter” our insides, just like broken lamps and unread magazines can clutter our homes. Sometimes music will allow us to get to the feeling that’s trapped inside, while bypassing any thought, analysis or conversation about it.

The next time you notice a piece of music is bringing up an emotion in you, take a deep breath and try to stay with it. If you’re not in a safe place, then make a note of the music and put it on later.

Music provides a container for deep feelings, since it naturally comes to a close and allows us to wind down with it. Of course our emotions can’t be artificially contained to match a 3-minute pop tune and yet if you can really tune in and be present with the music, you can match the piece’s natural ebb & flow, including the ending and subsequent release of your emotions.

Sparkers - Musical Musings © 2005 Linda Dessau for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more Sparkers by Linda at www.coachingtoys.com/musicalmusings.html


A Gift For the Heart by Linda Dessau

Music is a great way to express and share feelings with your loved ones. This Valentine’s Day, expand on the “mixed tape” gift idea and document your musical history together. What songs or pieces of music can be strung together to tell the tale of your relationship? Which quotes can be pulled out and printed – maybe gathered into a collage? If you’re really technologically adept, you can create an original DVD of music, words and images that you can watch on your big screen, with a fire roaring and warmth in the air. Enjoy!

Sparkers - Musical Musings © 2005 Linda Dessau for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more Sparkers by Linda at www.coachingtoys.com/musicalmusings.html


Piano Play by Linda Dessau

Music is a wonderful medium for exploring emotional or spiritual issues in a
way that gets you out of your head and into your heart, soul and body. For
this exercise, you'll need to find a piano or electric keyboard.

As you sit down at the piano, take a deep breath. What does it feel like to
be here? Did you take piano lessons as a child? Do you still play as an
adult? Whatever your experiences with the piano, put them aside and see it,
just for today, as a new friend.

Play only the black keys on the piano (creating a pentatonic-or
five-note-scale). As you play, sink into the sounds and invite whatever
comes from within you to be expressed through the music. If thoughts come
about what notes you should play or how the music is sounding, gently let
them go and return to your heart, soul and body and what they're trying to
express. When you feel finished, stop. Take a few moments to journal, draw
or share with another person your experience in the music.

Sparkers - Musical Musings © 2005 Linda Dessau for Coaching Toys Inc - Sparkers, all rights reserved. Read more Sparkers by Linda at www.coachingtoys.com/musicalmusings.html


Check out the Coaching Toys blog where a new Sparkers is posted every week. Your chance to share your experience with others. Or email your comments to marcy@coachingtoys.com

 

 

Linda Dessau

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Disclaimer

Sparkers Creative exercises, while mostly fun and enriching may occasionally tap into unresolved issues or discomfort. This may signal some healing to attend to. If this should happen for you and you feel you need help contact a professional counselor. Coaching, while powerful it is not a substitute for therapeutic intervention.

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