The Power Of Music

Music is powerful. Our entire physical being is filled with tonal vibrations and rhythms, from the dance of the DNA to the rhythm of our brain waves. Music can slow our heart rates, give us stamina, unlock our emotions, heal our psyches.

Most of us make music because we couldn’t bear to do otherwise. Music gives us joy, music give us a sense of self, music gives us fulfillment. Most of us use music naturally and intuitively to support our health and well being. But how much more powerful can we be as musicians and songwriters if we really understand why this art can enhance our lives and those of our audience. I would like to share with you a brief sampling of ideas and techniques that I have learned that have increased my awareness of the power of music.

For those of you wanting more information, I have an online bibliography of related materials.

Rhythm speaks to our old reptilian brain. It helps us organize time and as a result allows us to feel more comfortable and safe. Rhythm can effect our physiology. Heartbeat, breath rate and brain waves will alter in an attempt to entrain (match up) to the rhythm in the music. This is why hard driving music can help us exercise longer and why slower music helps us relax. The use of rhythmic repetition creates a sense of security and strength. Rap music is a good example of this use of rhythm in our popular culture.

Melody and harmony speak to the limbic system, the part of the brain where emotions are processed. Music, especially pieces from the Romantic period, with lush melodies and complex harmonies, can carry a great deal of emotional content and can support the release of emotions in listeners. Instrumental music can give a means of expressing emotions too powerful to speak. Using movement or visualization with instrumental music can also be ways of releasing those emotions.

The voice is the sacred self, the persona, which connects directly, the brain to the heart. Singing nurtures that connection, stimulates emotion and self expression. Singing in a group encourages the development of a sense of self within a larger community. Combining singing, instruments, and movement expands the power of these elements exponentially.

Toning is a way of vibrating the cells to bring them back to optimum rhythmic alignment. This exercise is something to help with stress management. It also helps clear the mind, and heighten listening ability.

Take a deep breath and then let it out in a sigh. Do this again and let the sign be sustained on an “ah” sound. With each breath allow your “ah” to be toned on the pitch that spontaneously occurs. Your intuitive self will choose the pitch you need at that moment. Do not change pitches within a breath. Keep everything relaxed (throat, jaw, shoulders, etc.). Let your authentic voice come out.

This is not singing so don’t worry about breath control or tone production. Let your voice work naturally. When toning in groups, don’t worry about matching pitches with others. Sometimes the tones will be discordant and other times harmonious. It doesn’t matter.

Try this for 10 minutes standing, with eyes closed. On another day pick one each from the three different categories: eyes open or closed; standing, sitting, laying down; ay ee ah, oh oo or hum. Once you have made your choices stick to them for at least 10 minutes but no longer
than 20 minutes per session. Vary them from day to day and see how the different combinations work for you.

Alice Olsen

The above is an excerpt taken from one of the workshops Alice Olsen has given for music teachers on the power of music. Hear Alice’s music at MySpace.

Learn more about Alice and her work at her website.” (


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2 Responses to “The Power Of Music”

  1. Dana Says:


  2. Robert Says:

    I love to see this kind of stuff coming out in mainstream media. It’s about time that people wake up to the fact that, inspite of the apparent solidity of our bodies and surroundings, it’s ALL ENERGY. That being said, so are the tones that emanates from our vocal cords, and so are our thoughts. It’s all energy. That has very big implications upon what we think say and do, and the reprecussions of same.

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