Speaker 1: You are listening to the Dr. Lisa Radio Hour and Podcast, recorded at the studios of Maine Magazine in Portland, Maine, and broadcast on 1310 AM Portland, streaming live each week at 11am on WLOBRadio.com.
Speaker 1: The Dr. Lisa Radio Hour and Podcast is made possible with the support of the following generous sponsors: Maine Magazine, Mike LePage and Beth Franklin at RE/MAX Heritage, Robin Hodgskin at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Dr. John Herzog of Orthopedic Specialists in Falmouth, Maine, Tom Shepard of Shepard Financial, Booth, UNE, the University of New England, and Akari.
Lisa: This is Dr. Lisa Belisle, and you are listening to the Dr. Lisa Radio Hour and Podcast, show #33, “Healing with Sound,” which is airing for the first time on April 29th, 2012, on WLOB Radio.
Our show is also available via podcast on iTunes. Dr. Lisa Belisle. This week’s show includes conversations with music therapist and founder of Maine Music & Health, Kate Beever, and also Amy Kuhn and John Williams from 317 Main Street in Yarmouth, Maine.
Today with me in the studio, we have our co-host, Genevieve Morgan, who is the wellness editor for Maine Magazine. Hi, Genevieve.
Genevieve: Hi, Lisa. I think this show is so exciting because we all listen to music. Music is everywhere, but we never think of it as being a healing operative in our lives.
Lisa: Yes, we don’t specifically often think of it as a quote unquote, “therapy,” although we know it’s therapeutic.
Genevieve: I guess when you go get an MRI, they ask you to bring your iPod.
Lisa: That’s true, although I think it’s mostly so you don’t have to listen to the giant magnet sounds, which are a little disconcerting, but yes. I think a lot of us can actually date our lives based on the music that we listen to, the sort of musical timeline.
Genevieve: Actually, my brother turned 40 last year, and for his birthday, I made him a mixed playlist of a song from every year since he was born.
Lisa: Wow, that’s ambitious.
Genevieve: So 40 songs.
Lisa: Tell me some of those songs because I turned 40 last year, too.
Genevieve: There was a Jackson 5 song. I think Katrina and the Waves was on there.
Lisa: “Walking On Sunshine?”
Genevieve: You bet. I think there was some Rolling Stones. What was last year? I would go do research, and I’d look at what the top hits of 1972 were, and then I’d remember what we were listening to in the car, and I’d put that song on.
That is a big part of music, it’s nostalgic. It can instantly bring us back to where we were at the time when we were hearing that song, or who we were with.
Lisa: It’s been really interesting for me to be part of the iPod generation because, of course, when we were growing up it was all about cassettes. I was after the age of vinyl and after the age of 8-tracks, but it was mixtapes.
We had those, and then we went to CDs. Now, we have iPods, and now our kids can actually access a lot of the music that we listened to growing up. It’s not just digging your cassettes out and giving it to your 12-year-old. You just download whatever it was. We’ve made things that once were contemporary constantly.
Genevieve: It’s true. They’re going to have their own connections to music that are going to be completely different for them than they were for us.
We’re going to be listening to the same song, but inside our heads, two different things are going to be happening because they’re listening to it in a different point in time than we were. I think that that’s one of the interesting things about this show is that music works on many different levels.
It works on mood. It works on emotion, but it also works on biology. As part of our deep dish, we’re going to bring in our audio engineer, John C. McCain, who’s also a world class musician and guitarist.
He’s going to give us some examples of how music not only affects our mood and can affect our productivity or our concentration or our focus, but it can also work on our brainwaves.
Lisa: There are different types of brainwaves. Some of them are associated with sleep and some of them are associated with being awake.
John, can you give us an example of a music that would maybe be about the same frequency of a sleeping brain wave.
John M.: Sure Lisa. I think an easy way to do this is the use of binaural beats. These are frequencies that are very close to one another, that when listened to with stereo headphones, produce a beating. This beating sound that we perceive with headphones is equivalent to the brainwave states that we’re going to look at.
The first one’s going to be very slow, three cycles per second. It’s a delta wave that you would have associated with deep sleep.
Genevieve: How about a waking brainwave?
John M.: Sure. For these next two examples of waking brain state, we’re going to hear the alpha waves, which are around 12 cycles a second, that’s being awake and relatively relaxed. Then we’re going to hear beta waves, around 20 cycles, when you’re awake and quite alert.
This will be alpha followed by beta.
Genevieve: What about a brainwave when you’re watching TV?
John M.: Sure. For this we’re going to use theta waves, which are around seven cycles a second, and are associated with a very relaxed, almost disassociated, brainwave state.
People often get daydreamy, or have ideas in this state too, where we don’t have to attend so much to what we’re doing outwardly, and we are somewhat more inwardly focused.
These are theta waves.
Genevieve: There’s a theory in music therapy called “entrainment,” which has to do with beats per minute or tempo of music, and how music can life or bring down your mood and productivity.
We thought it’d be interesting to have John play different tempos so you guys out there can hear what kind of music you should play if you want to focus better, if you want to get jazzed up for your workout, or if you want to go to sleep.
For instance, for inspiration and productivity, it’s 60 to 90 beats per minute.
John M.: In order to give some sense of what it’s like to respond to music at different tempos, I’m presenting the same piece of guitar music here three different ways at three different tempos.
Here, for inspiration like you said, this is going to be 85 beats per minute.
Genevieve: For peak performance, the best tempo is 90 to 140 beats per minute.
John M.: This is going to be that same piece of guitar music played at 110 beats per minute.
Genevieve: For relaxation and de-stressing, a tempo of 30 to 60 beats per minute can be helpful.
John M.: To give you a sense of that slower, more relaxed tempo, here’s that same piece of guitar music played at 55 beats per minute.
Lisa: Next time you shuffle your iPod, think about what you’d like to accomplish and then add the right soundtrack for the job.
Thanks to John C. McCain for helping us out and showing us what brainwaves sound like and showing us what beats per minute we should be listening to for various things that we’d like to accomplish.
For those of you who are not aware, John is more than just our, quote unquote “audio technician,” he is our audio guru and he’s a musician.
All of the pieces that you hear on our show in-between segments, in-between sponsor spots, are actually offered by John McCain. We believe that he’s part of our healing with sound thing that we try to do every week.
Thank you for listening this week. Genevieve, it’s been a fun little deep-dish that we’ve done.
Genevieve: I agree.
Lisa: I can’t wait to talk more with Kate Beever from Maine Music & Health, and with Amy Kuhn and John Williams from 317 Main Street in Yarmouth.
We are fortunate at the Dr. Lisa Radio Hour and Podcast to have the support of the University of New England, who sponsors a segment we call, “Wellness Innovations.”
This wellness innovation came from a March 2012 issue of Scientific American.
“The way you perceive things may be influenced by your playlist. Last year, researchers in the Netherlands found that the music one listens to can temporarily change a person’s visual perception and affect what they think and see.
In this study, 43 young adults were asked to look at a computer screen and perform a visual detection task. Multiple faint visual stimuli, of either happy or sad faces, were presented at one time in a visually noisy gray background.
Experimenters told the participants to indicate whether they saw a happy or sad face, and to not respond if they are not absolutely certain of what they saw. They also had the subjects listen to either happy or sad music while doing the visual detection task.
Researchers found that people who are best at detecting the mood of the face congruent with the mood of the music they were listening to at the time. In other words, people were most accurate at correctly detecting happy faces when listening to happy music and most accurate at detecting sad faces when listening to sad music.”
For information on the wellness innovation, visit DoctorLisa.org. For information on the very innovative University of New England, visit UNE.edu.
Speaker 1: This portion of the Dr. Lisa Radio Hour and Podcast has been brought to you by the University of New England, UNE. An innovative health sciences university grounded in the liberal arts, UNE is the number one educator of health professionals in Maine. Learn more about the University of New England at UNE.edu.
Lisa: Each week on the Dr. Lisa Radio Hour and Podcast, we go forth out into the airwaves and hope that we are indeed ourselves healing with sound.
I thought it’d be interesting to bring in somebody who officially heals with sound. We like to think of ourselves as healing with sound, but we know that Kate Beever is a healer. She is a board certified music therapist with a master’s in music therapy.
Kate, thanks for coming in today.
Kate: Yes, thanks for having me.
Lisa: Kate, this is a really interesting topic for us. We’ve had musicians on the show before. Of course, John McCain, we call him our audio guru, he’s a musician himself. I sing, I feel very strongly about music. You must too.
Kate: I do, very much.
Lisa: How did you come to be a music therapist?
Kate: Oh boy, well I started playing piano when I was in 3rd grade and then switched to classical percussion. I learned drum set, timpani, and mallet percussion. Then I started teaching lessons when I was in junior high and high school to students with disabilities, either with sight issues or developmental disabilities.
I realized that I had kind of a gift for teaching music to people who learned in a different way, so I wrote a research paper on that in 8th grade and found out that was actually a field of music therapy. It wasn’t just teaching music, it was healing through music.
I’ve been interested in it since I was a kid.
Lisa: Classical percussion, I didn’t even realize that was a thing.
Kate: It is. I’ve played with a lot of orchestras, I still sort of sit in with the Bates orchestra sometimes up in Lewiston. I do some world percussion as well. I play some solo percussion on marimba, vibraphone, and stuff.
Lisa: What was it about percussion that drew you in?
Kate: This is a good topic because I’ve noticed that everyone sort of has their thing about music that they really like, and mine is rhythm, so I’m very drawn to rhythms of all kinds.
I’m one of those people who … I can hear the rhythm everywhere I go, so when you’re walking, when you’re breathing, or when you’re around in the city hearing all these noises. It’s all kind of rhythmic, which sounds like music to me.
I was always really drawn to it. I never used to be much of a singer, I am now, but at the time I wasn’t a singer I thought, “Well I’ll play the drums, then I won’t have to sing.”
Lisa: You sort of backed into a little bit.
Kate: Yeah, exactly.
Lisa: Wait a minute, so you didn’t used to be a singer, but you are now. How did that transformation occur?
Kate: I did sing in high school. I sang in chamber singers in chorus, but never as a solo singer. I realized that I was going to need to do that if I was going to be working with people and trying to get them to sing.
I also realized how good it is for you to sing. It’s good for your lungs, good for your breathing, and just makes you feel better in general. I figured if I was going to be telling people that I should embody it myself, so I started singing more.
Lisa: It sounds like there are different ways in which music can heal, and I know we probably could spend days and days talking about this.
Describe some of them.
Kate: I guess it depends on who you’re working with. I’ve seen a lot of music therapists working with different populations.
A big one right now is children with autism because I think the recent number that came out is one in 88 children are diagnosed with autism, so everyone’s trying to find ways to help them integrate into classrooms and connect with other children and be able to express themselves, and music is a really powerful way to do that.
I’ve seen a lot of people working with kids with autism. Some of the stuff I’ve done. I worked in the neonatal ICU for awhile, and that was a way to help moms connect with their child through singing since they weren’t able to touch them yet.
Lisa: Will you teach people how to play and sing? Or do you play and sing for them?
Kate: It’s a little bit of both, and it’s not necessarily teaching them, but it’s allowing them to realize that they already have that skill. It’s more of a facilitation. I’ll try to facilitate that person to be able to sing or play the piano along with me.
I do it in such a way that’s easy for them, so it’s not really a lesson and they don’t have to build all these musical skills, that we as musicians have built up for a long time. It’s just so that they can immediately do it and feel gratified by it.
Lisa: Do you think that that’s potentially one of the barriers to healing with sound is that people think that they have to be a quote unquote “singer” or they have to play piano?
Kate: Absolutely. I think that’s one reason that it’s important to have a music therapist or someone there to help facilitate that because I’ve run into that a lot when I was working in a hospital setting. I would go into a room and say, “I’m a music therapist. Would you like some music today?”
Many people, especially older people who’ve never tried it, were really apprehensive. They would say, “Oh, I can’t do that. I’m not a good singer.” Or “I’ve never played piano, I never took lessons.” Or “I quit that when I was a kid.”
It’s our job to say, “Okay, that’s fine.” Then get them comfortable enough to at least try it and then facilitate the music so that they say, “Oh, I can do this. It sounds really good.”
Lisa: There’s a little bit of a marketing aspect to what you do.
Kate: There’s a huge marketing aspect.
Lisa: Especially with children with autism I would think because you can’t necessarily … Not every child with autism is going to know that they would like to do music therapy.
Kate: It’s amazing actually, the amount of children … Actually I don’t think I’ve ever seen a kid say no to music. As soon as you start playing it, start playing a drum, or singing, they’re immediately apart of that and recognize.
One thing you can do with children with autism actually is some of them are just sort of vocalizing on their own, they might be making sounds. As a music therapist I would just match those sounds and all of a sudden the kid notices that you’re matching what he’s doing and you build a relationship with him. Then you can turn that into music on its own.
Lisa: Even people who don’t consider themselves musical will revert when they’re not thinking unconsciously to humming or whisting or making sound or singing in the shower. I know that many people use singing with stammers. What happens with music in the brain?
Kate: When you’re speaking actually, you’re only using part of your brain. Some people say half your brain, it’s not necessarily half, it’s just specific parts, but when you’re singing you’re using more of your brain.
Once you start singing instead of speaking, it starts firing off up there and making more connections and all of a sudden you’re singing things that you wanted to be able to speak.
That’s another thing you can do working with people who have brain injuries. You can help them figure out what they want to say and put it to music, so they’re singing it. Then you start taking that melody away and they’ll eventually be speaking it.
It’s a good way to help people learn how to speak.
Exactly, with people who have a stuttering problem, it can help a lot too.
Lisa: I noticed that you interned at Beth Israel’s Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine. This just struck me as interesting that you have the medicine and then you have Louis Armstrong, the trumpet player with the giant cheeks. That seems very forward-thinking on their part.
Kate: I think Louis Armstrong noticed how important music was to people, and even non-musicians, and wanted to do something about that, so he founded that part of the hospital and now it’s a major part of the hospital.
Which I noticed is, in most of the places in New York, music therapy is actually a huge part of health care. I think that’s really important. There’s a lot of research coming out of that place especially.
We were doing research studies on music COPD and asthma, so we would use recorders, flutes, or singing to help people improve their breathing which, I think you’d probably know as a singer, breathing is a really big part of that, so it’s really helpful.
The same thing at Sloan-Kettering where I was there was a lot of research happening and it was an integrated part of the hospital. They’d go to the rounds and talk about all the patients with the doctors and get referrals. It was a really exciting place to be.
Lisa: You’ve brought this to Maine.
Kate: Trying, yes.
Lisa: Your company is called?
Kate: Maine Music & Health. That was one of my goals actually. I’m from Maine, so I love it here naturally, but I also would really like to see music therapy grow here. Right now I think there’s only five or six of us spread throughout the state, which is a pretty small representation … compared to other states I guess.
It’s amazing the places that I’ve gone and done some music therapy sessions. How quickly it’s grown, because people immediately notice, “Wow this really works. It’s really powerful.”
It’s helping people achieve their non-musical goals faster than without music, so that’s a nice thing to see. It’s just kind of a slower process I guess.
Lisa: Kate, I know that you are a percussionist, so of course you deal a lot with rhythm. There’s also melody and harmony, and these things do different things with regard to healing. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Kate: I talked a little bit about rhythm already. I really believe that rhythm is inherent in everyone. Not necessarily specific rhythms, like not everyone can play some polyrhythm on a snare drum, but just the way that you move and the way that you speak, you have a rhythm to yourself. Other people have that too.
I think that’s how I connect with someone when I first start working with them is through rhythm. Especially being a percussionist, it’s pretty easy for me to take out a percussion instrument and share that with somebody.
Melody, I think, is the most important thing for the general public because that’s what people have in their minds all the time. Songs you hear on the radio, or songs that you remember from when you were a little kid, you’re going to remember the melody. You’re not really going to remember what chords were played behind it or what the drummer sounded like, but you’ll remember the song.
You see that a lot working with people who lost parts of their memory. Adults with dementia and Alzheimer’s might not remember anything, then you’ll mention a song and they’ll remember the entire melody to that song. That’s kind of a magical thing. I think that’s why melody’s important.
Then the harmony aspect of it is just what really drives the emotion of music. You might be singing a melody with somebody, and they’ll maybe smiling or saying, “Oh that was my wedding song.”
Once you add the harmonic instrument to that, a piano, or guitar, or even a group of people singing together, that’s what really makes that person start feeling the emotion of that song. That’s what brings out the counseling side of it.
When someone says, “Oh, that’s my wedding song,” but then they also start crying and say, “I really miss my husband who passed away a few years ago.” We start a discussion just out of playing that song together.
Lisa: Music seems to also bring people together. I mean, Louis Armstrong, he was a trumpeter, “When the Saints Go Marching In.” Do you think that there is a healing that music can do on a larger scale?
I think the sense of community that grows with people playing music together, listening to music together, or talking about it is just so important for anyone, especially people who are doing some kind of healing, whether it’s emotional, physical, or cognitive.
To do that as a group just makes it that much more powerful. They see other people benefiting from it, they’re sharing it, and they’re talking about it. It just makes it happen even faster.
Lisa: If a group of different people are listening to the same piece, does it cause them to sort of resonate?
Kate: It depends. There’s a really amazing thing, if you get a group of people singing together, they really are feeling each other’s vibrations and it’s a really powerful thing that doesn’t happen very often.
Especially if you get people harmonizing with each other, I don’t know if you ever experienced that, but you’ll hear all the overtones and it’s almost like you’ve created this musical cloud that’s above everyone’s head. It’s a really powerful thing for people to experience.
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Lisa: What did you notice when you … You said that you started this process back in high school. You went to high school here in Maine?
Kate: I did, in Gorham.
Lisa: In Gorham. Actually they have a very strong music program for some reason out in Gorham and the University of Southern Maine at Gorham.
What did you notice when you started teaching, even back then?
Kate: I think it’s actually one specific person that I worked with that really changed my mind about what music was. When I was younger I was really focused on learning the specific note, the perfect way to play things, and performance. I still love that aspect of music, I love to perform.
But I was working with a young teenager. Actually, I think he was about nine when I started working with him. He had cerebral palsy, and so half of his body … he couldn’t actually move.
I think he was in a wheelchair when I started with him and his arm was in a cast that was held to his side, and he also had autism so he wasn’t able to really communicate very well with people. He didn’t speak, he just made some noises.
He really liked the drums. His parents had noticed that he got really excited when the drummers would start playing at any kind of concert, so they wanted me to teach him drum set. We started working at the drum set and I just based the lessons off of what he could do and started working with the right side of his body.
Then I would hand-over-hand work with the left side of his body and get him to play. I think it was just so motivating for him to hear the music he was creating that he began to do it on his own. That eventually transferred into his home life where he was able to walk up the stairs with both feet and he was able to do things with both his hands.
It was just a huge improvement and I saw the way that affected his family and him. It was just a really powerful moment for me, and I realized, “Wow, music did this. It’s not me, it’s not him, it’s the music that we’re doing together.” That changed my mind about everything.
Lisa: You’ve talked about autism. You’ve talked about cerebral palsy. What other things can you help?
Kate: People with traumatic brain injury can be helped by music in really specific ways, so you might try to help them walk again or get range of motion back by using instruments. You might hold an instrument out to the left and have them reach across their midline. You can also help them relearn how to speak, I think I mentioned that before.
It can help with cancer patients, or really anyone who’s been in the hospital for a length of time. It can help emotionally and it can help families reconnect.
I’ve also done a lot of end of life care, so that’s kind of a different thing, but the ways that that can help … you can work with the family to write some music, or choose some music that you want to play at the end of the life or at the funeral.
I’ve also worked with people who knew that they were going to pass away and they would create music as a legacy to give to their family.
There are a lot of really powerful ways. I honestly believe you can use music with anything, it’s going to affect everybody differently. There’s no specific music that works for one thing, it’s just what that individual needs at any given moment. It’s just a way to meet their goals.
Lisa: Can you speak a little bit to the emotional side of music? For many people listening, I would think all American teenagers right now, music becomes a powerful way to almost get through adolescence. Sometimes it’s very threatening to their parents, sometimes it’s not, because music affects mood.
How does that work? If you’re in the mood for a sad song, does that mean you should listen to a sad song?
Kate: That’s the big question I guess. I think that you can, I think it’s a good way to let that emotion out in a really safe space, especially with teenagers, it’s a really safe way to express what you’re feeling without hurting anyone or without offending anyone because it’s just music and everybody likes music.
I think you mentioned the scary thing that teenagers listen to that might be offensive to people. I think what it is there is the power that comes from that kind of music. Specifically I’m thinking hard rock, rap genre. I think it’s just an outlet.
As far as feeling sad and wanting to listen to sad music, I think that’s okay because you want to feel sad. You want to feel that and then let it go, and music is a good way to do that because music always has a beginning and an end, so you can feel that sad, then it ends and you can move on.
As music therapists, we use something called entrainment, which is when you match someone’s mood, someone’s energy level, or someone’s body rhythms with music. Then you can bring that up or you can bring that down depending on what they need. We’ve used that a lot.
You can actually see it in people in a coma. If you’re playing music for them and you’re watching the chart above their bed in the hospital, you can match the heart rate or the breathing rate, then you can speed the music up or you can slow it down and you’ll actually see their breathing or heart rate speed up or slow down.
Genevieve: That’s incredible.
Lisa: Have you needed to use music to heal any aspect of your life?
Kate: All the time I guess. I think that’s one thing that’s drawn me to it. I’ve always used music for myself. I can’t remember if I went through angsty rap phase in high school, but I’ve always chosen music that’s really meaningful to me.
That’s an exercise we did in grad school actually, we wrote our musical biography. We chose songs that represented who we were at different points in our life. That was kind of a good experience to see what music means to me as well. It really means a lot. It sort of represents everything I’ve gone through.
Lisa: Why come back to Maine?
Kate: Well, many reasons. One is that I just love Maine, it’s a beautiful place. I’m really into biking and swimming, being near the ocean, and the fresh air. My family is still in Maine, a lot of them live in Gorham still, so that was part of the reason.
This career is really important to me and I really think that people in Maine could benefit from having music therapy and I want to see it grow here.
It was a tough decision because I was in New York with such a big support system, and being part of these hospitals that were doing a lot of music therapy work, it would have been easy to stay there and be a part of that, but I’d like to see that same thing happen here. That was the main reason I came back.
Lisa: You described New York and you described Maine. You have said that you have always had a sense … you can listen to what’s going on around you and there’s a rhythm to everything.
Can you describe the difference between the music of Maine and music of New York?
Kate: I can. That’s a good question as far as what I listen to because my iPod is a good representation of that. What was on my playlist when I was in New York is very different from what was in Maine.
One example is that I really like bluegrass, I grew up with bluegrass music, and when I was in New York, I was listening to bluegrass music that was really upbeat and fast-paced, which is sort of what I feel when I’m there.
You’re walking, and you’re immediately walking at a faster pace in Manhattan. There’s so many people around with so many different languages and different things to look at. It’s sort of a bunch of polyrhythms at the same time, I guess is how I would describe it.
Then coming back to Maine it just slowed down a little. I feel like my own breathing has slowed down, the music list I listen to has slowed down a little bit. I think that the rhythms in Maine more of the ocean rhythm, just sort of a calm wave, and then running on dirt roads basically.
Lisa: So you have more balance on your iPod now.
Kate: Exactly, I think so. You know, I love fast-paced things, I loved being in New York, but I think it’s good to have that balance. Be able to do both.
Lisa: Is there a music associated with silence?
Kate: Well, John Cage might say yes. That’s a good question. I actually use silence a lot and I think it’s a really important part of music. Even music that you wouldn’t say, “Oh, there’s a lot of silence in that.” Just pauses in music and time to take a breath. All of that is very important and I think just having some silence can be really good too.
Lisa: How can people find out more about Maine Music & Health? I know you have an event coming up.
Kate: They can go to my website, MaineMusicandHealth.com, or email me at [email protected]
I’ve been working with this amazing music school in Yarmouth called 317 Main Street. I think they’ll be speaking a little bit later, but we’re going to do some events together. We’re doing a group at the cancer community center in a few weeks.
I am speaking at the American Cancer Society Conference which is in the beginning of May. There’s a few events coming up actually which are really exciting.
Lisa: You’ll put those on your website.
Kate: They are, yup.
Lisa: Do you have a Facebook page?
Kate: I do have a Facebook page. I think it’s just Maine Music & Health.
Lisa: Well Kate, it’s been so interesting. I have so many questions I could keep asking you, but thank you so much for bringing this back to the state of Maine.
Kate: Thanks for having me.
Lisa: It’s a really valuable service that you’re offering and thanks for coming in.
Kate: Thank you.
Speaker 1: Our bodies are often the first indicators that something isn’t quite working. Are you having difficulty sleeping? Anxiety or chronic pain issues? Maybe you’ve had a job loss, divorce, or recent empty nest.
Dr. Lisa specializes in helping people through times of change and inspiring individuals to create joyful sustainable lives. Visit DoctorLisa.org for more information on her Yarmouth, Maine medical practice and schedule your office visit or phone consult today.
This segment of the Dr. Lisa Radio Hour and Podcast is brought to you by the following generous sponsors:
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Lisa: Earlier we spoke with Kate Beever, music therapist, about healing with sound. We’re going to be speaking with two people who are doing a very different type of healing, but also with sound.
Today we have with us John Williams, Executive Director, and Amy Kuhn, Development Director, from 317 Main Street in Yarmouth.
Thank you for coming in.
Amy: Thank you.
John W.: Thanks.
Lisa: What was the impetus? Why was it important to bring in a place to learn music on Main Street in Yarmouth?
John W.: 317 is about seven years old now. It was the brainchild of a guy named Peter Milliken who had this incredible idea about community and bringing people together and having music be this incredible, powerful thing that all of us have within ourselves that we can all access.
He felt that community is important and Yarmouth was a great place to create something like this. It was really his idea to buy a building on Main Street and have music be the featured thing that brought community together. That was seven years ago.
We’re a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and have grown considerably over the last seven years to where we now have over 400 people per week come through for various types of music programs, lessons, groups, and band play.
Lisa: You yourself play an instrument?
John W.: I do. I was board chair from the beginning, so I sort of was part of the dream and thinking about how this could work. I started playing music seriously about eight years ago. I play the mandolin.
I messed around with a guitar and banjo when I was in college, and sort of went other ways and then came back to music about eight years ago. I’ve really got the passion for it. It’s an amazing place to be because you hear music all day long.
Lisa: What was it about mandolin that you’d decided this is the instrument for me?
John W.: Sure. I traveled a ton. I did environmental consulting work before I became executive director two years ago. I was on an airplane all the time. I wanted an instrument that I could bring with me, and mandolin was perfect because it fit in the overhead compartment rack. That was really the impetus for playing that instrument.
Lisa: That’s a very practical approach to bringing music into your life then.
How about you, Amy? Do you play an instrument? Or sing?
Amy: I’m embarrassed to say, people ask me that all the time and I have to tell them I’m the only muggle up there at 317. I am not a musician, although I strive to become one. I am a real believer in community and that that’s a really central part to everyone’s well-being. That part I connect with at a personal level.
Lisa: Children, adults, who is your audience?
John W.: As I’ve mentioned, we have about 400 students that are enrolled now. We run three sessions through the year, fall, winter, and spring. About 75% of our students are under the age of 18, so a huge percentage is of kids who are interested in music and really that’s just part of what their growing up experience is.
We have 25%, plus or minus, that are adults. These are people who are professionals and come in after work. They will schedule being part of an ensemble or of a private lesson. I was one of those people when I started.
As a professional that is into music, you literally scheduled your week around that date. It became a really special time of the week that was very very sacred. That’s what a lot of our adult students are like.
Genevieve: The community you’re building doesn’t only extend to your students, it also extends to your faculty. I mean, there’s some incredible names on your faculty list and 317 has become this home for them.
Amy, do you want to speak to that?
Amy: Sure. I think that is something that is really unique about 317 that sets it apart from other venues to learn music is that you’re in a community of musicians, of people who are out working, playing gigs, creating music themselves, so it lends for a really vibrant, really dynamic environment for students of all ages.
Lisa: Is there a performance aspect to the training that goes on at 317?
John W.: Yeah, it’s really important. We focus on a couple of things up there. Group play is hugely important. When we started out, it was a lot of private lessons. I think that teachers were more comfortable teaching private lessons. Music is a lot more fun when you play with a group.
Over the last couple of years, we’ve really put an emphasis on group play. We’ve tried to establish a lot of different vehicles to get people involved in group play. Once you get comfortable playing in a group, then the next logical thing is to learn how to perform. We strongly emphasize that.
We have recitals that we offer during each sessions. We do a lot of outreach. In fact, we get a ton of calls from organizations around Portland who would loves to have music students play at their various functions. We’re constantly looking to put together ensembles and creating opportunities for our students to perform.
It’s part of the logical progression, and it’s really interesting to see students who first go from not knowing a chord to being able to stand on a stage and play in front of other people. It’s an amazingly powerful thing, and the energy the people get from doing that is wonderful.
Lisa: I like this idea of group play. We think about playing music, and a lot of times music becomes so serious. It’s all about the lessons, the learning piano, and we all have these weird … I don’t know.
When I was in 5th grade, I had band anxiety because I was never as fast as the other flautists, but it’s play. We all have music in us. Is that something that resonates with you?
John W.: It’s something that we’re very, very deliberate about at 317. We call ourselves a community music center as opposed to a school.
This is a place that we want people to come to relax and to get the full experience out of the music, not something that they dread, not something where they feel like they’re coming to work.
Obviously to progress in music, there is a commitment that’s involved in that, but we put a huge emphasis and premium on our teachers, and the whole experience is being one that is enjoyable and is very very relaxed.
I think we differentiate ourselves from a lot of music schools for that reason. We really want students to come and enjoy what they’re doing and it really is about play.
Lisa: Your space reflects that. It’s a beautiful old house with gorgeous windows and tons of light and you also have a café. Amy, what else is there? There’s art on the walls.
Amy: The café is open Monday-Thursday from two to six. We have a variety of healthy snacks for anybody who’s coming in after school or after work.
Lisa: Anyone can come to the café. You don’t need to be a musician.
Amy: Absolutely. Open to the public and you can hear some great music going on. We also do feature art exhibits several times a year from community artists. We host community events whenever we’re asked to do so and we can.
Lisa: From what I understand, it’s not just people playing instruments? You also have voice at your center?
John W.: We do. We teach a total of 11 instruments, voice being one of them. Our top instrument is piano, I think that’s about 30% of our population. Then guitar and voice is third. The voice program has really grown in the last couple of years, and we see that program continuing to grow.
We would like to do a lot with community choirs and community sing-a-long types of events which we’re in the process of thinking through.
Lisa: When Genevieve and I were in Yarmouth interviewing Dr. Christiane Northrup, we had this sense that Yarmouth is this interesting draw-off for healers. I think it might be for music as well. My daughter’s in the chamber choir at the high school, my son was at the chamber choir at the high school.
Music, arts, drama, do you have that sense as well?
Amy: I think so. I think there’s a really strong arts community as reflected in, I think there’s two or three arts organizations just in Yarmouth in terms of visual and performing arts, so I think that that’s true. It’s a creative group.
Genevieve: You’re growing, right? You’re not just in Yarmouth anymore.
Amy: That’s right. We have studios in Portland now, at Acoustic Artisans on Forest Avenue. We welcome new students in Portland for sure.
Lisa: What is it about Maine that makes, in your opinions, art and music so important, so fundamental to life?
John W.: It’s a really interesting dynamic. I think that we’re very fortunate here in Portland to have an incredibly strong and thriving arts community. An amazing array of musicians live in Portland.
It really wasn’t until we started the music center in Yarmouth and started to look around for talent that we realized how rich it is. I think that it’s only continuing to grow. Once we started 317, really nationally known musicians have come to Portland, and we feel very proud that 317 is part of what’s drawing people of that caliber to this area.
It’s a beautiful place to live, it’s more affordable than some of the other cities, yet it’s very accessible to some of the other cities. I think that the way I’ve observed it with musicians is once some move to an area, it attracts others. We’ve been really fortunate to be able to participate in that.
Speaker 1: We’ll return to our interview after acknowledging the following generous sponsors:
Akari, an urban sanctuary of beauty, wellness, and style. Located on Middle Street in Portland, Maine’s Old Port. Follow them on Facebook and learn more about their new boutique and medispa at AkariBeauty.com.
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Lisa: It seems as though, because on this show we have interviewed artists, architects, restaurant tours, cooks, and musicians. It just seems like we’re a people that likes to savor life. Do you find that in people who come in to take lessons or participate in the group play?
John W.: I think we still have a ways to go. I’ve spent a ton of time in Europe and those people know how to embrace life. I think that we, as Northeasterners, as Yankees, are coming a long way in that area.
I think that just the Friday art walk that Portland has, the number of venues that attract amazing musicians, the organizations that are really focusing on the arts, the people that are supporting the arts, it’s a very very rich art community.
Genevieve: You have a great event coming up, speaking of bringing people together.
Amy: We do. Our biggest event of the year is called “HenryFest.” It’s a full day, family-oriented outdoor music festival that takes place in the fall. This year it’s going to be on Sunday, September 9th, from noon to seven at the very beautiful bucolic Skyline Farm in North Yarmouth.
It’s just a great day. It’s a full day of music. We’ve got some great bands already booked for this year. Lots of delicious, healthy local foods. Kids activities from face painting, games, costumes, story corners, all that kind of stuff.
It’s a great way for our whole community to come together. I think it’s a great fundraising event, because it’s so tied to who we are and what we are all about. It’s all ages, all abilities, at a low cost to come together and enjoy the day.
I mention it now in particular because it is our time to start attracting volunteers to come and plan this huge event. It takes many hands and we would welcome anybody who might be out there who wants to participate. We’d love to have you join our team.
Lisa: How do people get in touch with you to do that?
Amy: Can I give my email address?
Amy: Okay. It’s [email protected] We’d love to hear from you. Last year we actually had a huge crew of teenagers come, which worked out great. They got community service hours and we got the benefit of their enthusiasm.
If you’re a teen, or the parent of a teen, come in and volunteer together.
Lisa: This is our “Healing with Sound” show. You work with a lot of kids and a lot of adults. What types of cognitive and developmental behavioral benefits have you noticed, whether it’s with children or adults, who have come through to take advantage of your services?
John W.: There’s a lot of studies that have been published about the benefits of music. In fact, it’s amazing. I’m constantly looking at that material and seeing what the latest studies are.
The basic things that I have come across, it’s just amazing in terms of brain development in a younger person. Music just does a thing where it helps the brain develop in ways and create channels that aren’t otherwise necessarily developed. I think that that’s the technical reason.
I think that for us, what we try to do is to bring joy. When you come in the door, there’s a certain sense that we try to create and preserve at 317, which is a feeling of joy. It’s a happy place. We make a point of greeting everybody in a very focused way when they come in the door. Helping them feel like they belong to this community. Then when they get into the room, being able to joke around a little bit, make it fun, laugh, play.
I think for adults, it’s really about a place where they can come and kind of put down the worries of the day and really get into an environment that is relaxed and comfortable. Again, it’s about fun. That’s a huge premium that we put on everything that we do there.
Lisa: When you find that people have the joy in their lives, are they able to better tackle the work in their lives? Are the kids more focused on their homework? Do adults find a greater ability to focus on what they “need to get done”?
John W.: I think that that’s all true. I can just talk from my own experience when I’m practicing playing. It really requires you to turn off other parts of what may be chatter in your mind. That becomes almost a meditation.
I practice an hour a day. That really is my meditative time to really cancel everything else out and really just get into the moment and really put all of my energy and focus into that.
There’s also something about music, which is about time. There’s a time in that and I think that there’s a resonance in all of life that’s based on time, and music sort of puts you in touch with that.
Amy: I would also say that there are a huge number of psychosocial benefits that come from the kids working collaboratively with each other. 317 runs a number of outreach programs to youth-oriented organizations with at-risk and disadvantaged youths.
I have seen firsthand the benefits of seeing these kids have a positive pure collaboration experience from the confidence that comes from skills, enjoying the mentoring relationship that they experience with their teachers, all of those types of softer benefits that maybe aren’t a part of their regular life, but really contribute to who they are and who they become.
Genevieve: Kate spoke earlier about music, particularly for adolescents, being a way to have an emotional catharsis to express emotion in a safe and contained way. I would imagine that playing music, is that even more so…
Amy: I was lucky enough just last night to go to a culmination performance at the Long Creek Youth Development Center where 317 has been leading some songwriting classes with some residents there. They played some amazing songs where they just let out all the same themes and same issues that every adolescent deals with, but just so beautifully and so profound, I was really impressed.
We went around the room afterwards and I just said to them, “What does this mean to you? What did this music and what did this class do for you?” One of them said, “It just gave us a chance to be real.” That really spoke to me.
Lisa: I’m impressed with all the work that you’re doing and I know that it’s always interesting for me to drive by 317 Main and just know that there’s this midas of creative energy that’s occurring right in the middle of town.
You spoken about volunteers. What other ways can people get involved with 317 Main?
Amy: We have youth student groups come in and we have adults come in. We would welcome you anytime from maintaining our beautiful historic building to helping out at our events.
Genevieve: Donating money.
Amy: Donating money always helps.
By all means if you have any interest, get in touch and we will talk to you and find out what your skill sets are and what you’re interested in getting out of it.
Genevieve: How can people donate if they want to?
Amy: You can donate securely online through PayPal at our website, which is 317MainSt.org.
John W.: Our website is pretty complete in terms of listing all of what we offer in our various programming. You can always call the front desk and either Jenny or Marie are there to take your call, are very friendly and answer your questions.
Reaching out to any of our instructors, all of our instructors. We have 22 on our staff and they’re all performing musicians. They perform around Portland a lot, so even just going up to them and introducing yourselves to them is great too.
Amy: I would also just to add that for the first time this summer, we’re going to be offering one week summer camps which is a great way to get started. If you’re thinking about trying an instrument, they’re open to all ability levels. We can find a way to fit you into the band, so that’s something else to keep in mind.
Lisa: Thank you so much for coming in and speaking with us today on our “Healing with Sound” show. We appreciate all the great work you’re doing up there in Yarmouth.
John W.: Thanks so much for having us.
Amy: Thank you.
Lisa: This is Dr. Lisa Belisle. You have been listening to the Dr. Lisa Radio Hour and Podcast, show #33, “Healing with Sound,” first airing on April 29th, 2012.
Our guests today included music therapist Kate Beever, and Amy Kuhn and John Williams of 317 Main Street in Yarmouth.
We at the Dr. Lisa Radio Hour and Podcast hope that you are healed with the sound, or by the sound, of our voices or are perhaps inspired or perhaps given the chance to think more about the types of things that are going on in your community that can contribute to your own health and wellness.
For more information on our guests, visit DoctorLisa.org.
We hope that you’re taking the time to build your own Dr. Lisa Radio Hour and Podcast podcast library. You can do so by going to iTunes, Dr. Lisa Belisle, and downloading all of the 33 shows that are currently available.
We also hoped that you have liked us on our Dr. Lisa Facebook page and that perhaps you will take the time to let us know what you think about our healing with sound or any of the other shows you might have listened to. We’re always looking for feedback and we’re always looking for good ideas for future shows.
This is Dr. Lisa Belisle. Thank you for being a part of our world. May you have a bountiful life.
Speaker 1: The Dr. Lisa Radio Hour and Podcast is made possible with the support of the following generous sponsors: Maine Magazine, Mike LePage and Beth Franklin at RE/MAX Heritage, Robin Hodgskin at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Dr. John Herzog of Orthopedic Specialists in Falmouth, Maine, Tom Shepard of Shepard Financial, Booth, UNE, the University of New England, and Akari.
The Dr. Lisa Radio Hour and Podcast is recorded in downtown Portland at the offices of Maine Magazine on 75 Market Street. It is produced by Kevin Thomas and Dr. Lisa Belisle. Editorial content produced by Chris Kast and Genevieve Morgan. Audio production and original music by John C. McCain. Our assistant producer is Jane Pate.
For more information on our hosts, production team, Maine magazine, or any of the guests featured here today, visit us at DoctorLisa.org. Tune in every Sunday at 11am for the Dr. Lisa Radio Hour on WLOB Portland Maine 1310 AM or streaming WLOBRadio.com.
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