Music and wellness activities are designed to give participants experience with music-related ways of managing stress, with the goal of enhancing stress-coping abilities. Participants learn many ways of participating in and responding to music, and can choose an activity that helps support their needs. A presentation can include opportunities for participants to try out some of the following activities:
This technique will help calm the participants, help make them think more clearly, and help them focus on what they are doing in the present moment.
A musician can lead diaphragm breathing and have the audience continue to practice breathing in this way as s/he plays a short melody.
The musician could also have the audience sing a drone and then play a melody over their sustained note.
Chanting is a form of sung prayer or meditation that centers the mind, body and spirit. Musicians could have participants learn chants they can use at home during their personal meditation time. Chants don’t have to be religious: they can be non-sectarian, and use neutral syllables.
Musicians can have participants meditate on something of their own choosing, or on something specific like a word or koan. This would be a good opportunity for the musician(s) to improvise a short, contemplative melody as the listeners meditate.
Guided Imagery with Music (GIM)
A trained GIM music therapist asks questions that participants answer through the images and sensations they experience while listening to predetermined music selections. The music the GIM specialist chooses helps suggest the images. The musicians can work with the music therapist to develop this presentation.
T’ai Ji can improve balance, concentration and focus, fitness, sense of well-being, energy level, posture and circulation. Normally this can be done without live music, but musicians can enhance the practice with appropriate Chinese music. This presentation involves a fair amount of pre-planning and trial and error with an open-minded T’ai Ji instructor! This idea could also work if musicians teamed with a yoga instructor. For example, participants could practice upper body movements led by the yoga instructor while the musicians played appropriate music.
Participants experience body awareness and musical concepts through full body movement. Through good teamwork between the musicians and the eurhythmics instructor, this can be a wonderful opportunity to introduce and fully engage listeners in many styles of music, no matter how unfamiliar the music or genre is to them.
More participatory music making ideas
Musicians can further engage the audience, strengthening their sense of group and community, by involving them in drum circles. There are many musicians and music therapists who are accustomed to leading drum circles, so musicians could team with them for this activity.
The musicians could lead a short body rhythm or body percussion activity such as creating a rain storm: tap palms with fingers, rub hands together, snap fingers, slap thighs, clap, stomp. Build the storm and then have it die down.
Musicians can lead a call and response. Musicians can try whatever form of call and response they are comfortable with. Possibilities include creating a walking bass line in the cello or double bass and having the melody instrument introduce a rhythmic idea (call) that the audience imitates (response). What else could the players do?
The musicians could have their audience write while listening to short pieces of music. Participants could make up a story that would work with the music they are hearing. What stories did they come up with? What is happening in their story? If each instrument is a character in, say, a violin and cello duet, who is the violin describing, who is the cello describing, and what happens in their story?
The audience could try drawing while listening to music. What kind of lines does the music suggest? Long, unbroken, smooth, well-spaced ones? Short, jagged ones? What kind of motions? What colors do they use? Does this change as the piece they hear changes? Are objects on the page crowded together, spaced out, many or few? What else does the audience notice about their drawings?
Musicians could also use mandalas for this activity, and team with a GIM instructor who can guide the activity and help interpret the drawings for each person.
For more information on music and wellness visit http://wellness.pittsburghsymphony.org
May 10, 2016