The Use of Music During Grief Resolution (Part 3)
Tony Falzano, musician and author, shares his third and last article on music and grief and how it specifically acts as a healing agent for those grieving a loss. In the previous session, we examined how music can direct our attention from uneasy surroundings and divert us away from pain. This month, we'll look at another way music can help us through the grief process.
by Tony Falzano
There are times when I speak to hospice and grief organizations or I'm interviewed on radio shows about the benefits of music during the time of grief resolution. And I'm often asked questions about music assisting individuals experiencing grief. They are good questions and ones that you might have as well. I'd like to share them and my responses with you.
Q: What is the "best" music to listen to when moving through grief?
A: I'm not sure there is a "best" music. The best or right music is ultimately a personal choice. The only criteria is this; that the music brings you some form of pleasure and/or relief at the time you listen to it.
Q: What do other people listen to when grieving?
A: There's a wide range of music people seek out. Besides songs that you grew up to or songs that connect them to the person they lost, people will choose other styles of music.
One is sound scape music. Sometimes called, "trance music", sound-scape music is mostly associated with avant-garde composers who use electronic instruments and synthesizers to create their work. Sound-scapes play a trick on the mind. Generally when a song begins, the brain will stand at attention and wait for the melody to start. But in a sound-scape recording, there is no melody. So the mind is forced to rest and be enveloped in only a continuous fabric of harmonious sound. This fabric or "pad" of music does not rise and fall below a certain pitch which also makes it very popular with many who meditate, practice yoga and "just chill."
Furthermore, though it's not considered music, some people like to listen to environmental recordings. They are simple, peaceful, continuous sounds of nature, such as chirping birds, rain and thunderstorms or ocean waves as they reach the shore.
Then there are individuals who turn to melody and traditional musicianship. For these people there is much to choose from. There are many talented musicians with recordings that feature a solo instrument such as guitar and harp. There are music CDs where two (2) instruments play together, such as piano and flute. Others prefer hearing all the instruments of the orchestra. Classical and jazz music are popular. So is new age, ambient, relaxation and cinematic music or music that feels like it belongs as a soundtrack to a motion picture.
Q: Is instrumental music better to listen to than songs with words?
A: I'm not sure if it's better because again, it's a personal choice. However, I do believe there are a few advantages to listening to instrumental recordings. When I lost my parents a few years back, I found softer, slower, soothing, instrumental music to be the most helpful. Instrumentals were easy to listen to. I also found music that was "beat-less" or with a minimal amount of rhythm and percussion, slowed my body down, enabled me to relax which in turn, helped me to get centered.
Q: Where can I buy this kind of music?
A: Besides the large department stores like Target and Wal-mart, there is the web. Some grief resource sites such as New Leaf Magazine have music available to help you work through grief. Another company that has a wide variety of music perfect for grief resolution is CD Baby. They are the largest on line distributor of music by independent musicians in the world. To get to their site, just Google: www.cdbaby.com. Search by genre or, if you know it, type the name of the artist or title of the CD. For example, if you type, Tony Falzano in the search box on the main page of CD Baby, it will take you to my music. When you get to my page or any artist's site, you can click on the CD to read and listen to the songs to see if you like the music. Also there will be information explaining what the music is intended for and reviews by previous purchasers of the album. If interested, you can purchase right on line. It is very convenient to shop for music at CD Baby, New Leaf or at any reputable company doing business on the web.
Another thing I suggest is to look at the album cover when shopping. Do you connect with the picture/illustration on the cover? Does it convey an image that invites you to listen to the music?
Q: Can you offer any tips on listening to get the most enjoyment and relaxation?
A: First, I think music should be played at or just above the level of your voice in a normal conversation. In addition, it's important to be comfortable in a chair, bed or the floor. Try to plan for distractions by turning off the phone. You can dim the light in the room and light a candle. Listening with head phones can also help to shut out surrounding sounds. Closing your eyes will help you to focus more on the music and less on your surroundings; such as straightening the picture on the wall across the room! Furthermore, I suggest you listen to the selection all the way to the end of the piece. This time is meant for you so don't rush it...enjoy it!
Finally, there's a theory that sequencing music can be effective in altering your mood. Sequencing is when you select a series of different musical compositions that will transition you from one mood to another. For example, rather than say; "I'm depressed, I'll listen to something joyful," it is suggested that the listener sequence out of depression. Select a piece which reflects your current mood. Then another selection that is not so depressing to something lighter and so forth. The belief is that you first honor the mood you are in and then gradually move toward a different and maybe healthier state of mind.
I want to thank you for allowing me to share some of my ideas on music these last few months. I hope they have helped you to see how musical notes turn into "healing notes" when we are grieving a loss. Music is healthy. Music is nurturing. And there is a smorgasbord of it in front of you. Use it often and enjoy it. In the words of the late Michael Jackson, "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough."
Tony Falzano is an author, college professor and an award winning songwriter who speaks on the enormous health benefits that music has to offer. His articles on the power in music to heal can be found in all the major grief magazines and websites.
In addition, Tony has just released his new music CD, "Just a Touch Away". Along with his first album, "In Abba's Arms", his music has reached the ears and souls of many grieving a loss. Both CDs contain original instrumentals music designed to be an "inspirational companion" to calm, comfort and nurture those searching for healing and hope.
"Just a Touch Away" and "In Abba's Arms" are available through the New Leaf web store.