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Tuning in to your memories

mad_scientist-e1318285007636For reasons which I hope will soon become clear, I’ve decided to start this article on music with a brief chemistry lesson. Did you know that one way of testing for sulphur dioxide gas (SO2) is to mix it with a second gas, hydrogen sulphide, a gas which can be identified by its ‘rotten egg’ smell? If the mixture of these gases turns into a thick smoke, then you can be sure that the first gas was sulphur dioxide.

I mention this because despite studying chemistry for seven years in secondary school, the only lesson that I can remember is one where Mr. Godlington, the chemistry teacher, performed the experiment described above. Now I’m sure he’d be pretty disappointed to know that after all his hard work, dedication and encouragement, all I can remember from his classes is that sulphur dioxide plus hydrogen sulphide makes smoke. He’d be even more devastated to learn that it’s probably not even due to him that I can still recall this experiment! What made this particular lesson so memorable was that in the break which followed, one of my classmates adapted the lyrics of a well-known Platters’ song:

They asked me how I knew
It was S-O-2.
I of course replied,
With hydrogen sulphide,
Smoke gets in your eyes.

Not only has that verse stayed with me for nearly forty years but so has the lesson which prompted it and it’s clear to me that my ability to recall that chemistry class is entirely due to my schoolmate’s song. After all, ancient cultures have always used music as a mnemonic device, not only to imprint their stories onto the minds of their young but also to ensure that their tribal histories could be accurately preserved through successive generations. This method of maintaining a historical record is highly effective and indeed the indigenous Australians claim that Aboriginal dreamtime songs date back to the dawning of their civilisation.

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Playing Music for Global Peace

Rainbow_notes_EarthEvery week at Rainbow Light Trust, a new focus is uploaded for the Ribbons of Light global peace meditation.  I like the fact that anyone in the world can engage with Ribbons of Light throughout the week, wherever they are.  The meditation times are 3, 6, 9 or 12 o’clock local time, to keep an ongoing focus around the Earth.  I regularly connect by playing my harp at any one of these hours.

I have always been interested in doing something beneficial for the environment and have always loved playing stringed musical instruments (see: Playing Music in the Environment).  Ribbons of Light has allowed me the opportunity to bring these two passions together.  Although I enjoy playing music for music’s sake, I find that when I play for the weekly focus, I feel a real sense of purpose, as well as a connection to the greater whole.  I also feel fulfilled in the knowledge that I am doing something of benefit to the planet. + Read More

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Working with Children with Autism: A Precious Moment

I worked for several years in a school for children who were severely physically and intellectually disabled and discovered that children with communication impairment prefer to be involved with music, movement and play rather than those activities that have an expectation of interaction. However when there is a difficulty with communication, the ability to interact in play will also be restricted and these children will often prefer to isolate themselves from other children to create their own world.

Children who have difficulty expressing themselves through words and language remind us to be accurate, brief and clear in our communication. Our body language and tone of voice need to match what we are saying so that we don’t give a conflicting message. To avoid confusion and misunderstanding, it may help to offer multi sensory aids (music, objects, pictures, signs, symbols, fragrances) to cue the child into the next activity. This will encourage the children to listen, feel, see, touch and smell so that they won’t have to rely on only one channel of communication in order to understand the words being used, the instruction being given or the request being made.

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Playing Harmonious Music in the Natural Environment

“Music, when healthy, is the teacher of perfect order and when depraved, the teacher of perfect disorder.”

John Ruskin

Travelling with the lyre: Calderdale, Cornwall and Delphi

Travelling with the lyre: Calderdale, Cornwall and Delphi

Following training in Musical Medicine with The Academy of Spiritual Sciences, I learned that playing harmonious music in the natural environment can be healing because it encourages us to reconnect and harmonise ourselves with nature.  This activity can help us gain a greater awareness and respect for our environment, including the rocks, rivers, trees, animals, birds, skies etc., which are all made up from the four elements of fire, air, water and earth.  Simply play a musical instrument or sing, hum or whistle out in the environment, focus on the surroundings, relax into the experience and observe yours and the natural world’s behaviour. + Read More

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The Autumn Equinox

Autumn Trees

 

Equinox = ‘equal night’ ~ from Latin ‘aequus’ and ‘nox’.

During the September equinox, which takes place around the 21st September, the sun crosses the celestial equator, moving southwards in the northern hemisphere and northwards in the southern hemisphere.

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Where does music come from? Part Six

johnpaul

In the previous posts of this series I have outlined what I believe to be evidence of how non-physical guides are working with musicians to help bring music into the physical world. Much of this evidence came from the work of mediums such as Rosemary Brown and Leslie Flint,  who were able to use their gifts to contact and channel the spirits of departed composers. But what about today’s musicians and composers? Surely if there are unseen forces helping them to write music, they would have a sense that this was happening and would have openly talked about it?

Considering the ridicule that Rosemary Brown had to endure from a sceptical public and a savage media after making her claim that she channelled music from the great classical composers, it should perhaps be expected that any musician who had a sense of ‘receiving’ music from a source beyond the mind would have kept this feeling to themselves. I was therefore both surprised and delighted to discover that amongst the many composers who have over the years talked about the process of writing music, there are several who clearly believe that they are being guided by some unseen influence.

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The Song of the Sunflower

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow.
It’s what sunflowers do.”
Helen Keller

I will always remember walking in an enormous field of sunflowers, which towered over me and I stood for a long time, bathing in the golden glow.

I was mesmerized by the velvety petals, the intricate patterns of the seeds and the buzzing of the bees.

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Working with Paul: A Star is Born

Several years ago when I was juggling my work as a Speech and Language Therapist with my holistic therapy training at Rainbow Light Trust, Paul, a young man in his twenties, came to see me after an urgent telephone call from his elder sister. Paul had Down’s syndrome and had lived with his parents in a busy seaside town until tragically, after a short illness, his father and mother had died of heart attacks within months of each other.

Following the intervention of social services, Paul had moved away from the only home he had known, to live with one of his older sisters. She was a single parent with a little boy of her own. Paul and his sister came from a large family, however all was not well because his brothers and sisters were not on speaking terms with each other. The family had been against Paul living with any other member of his family, although this particular sister had wanted to take responsibility and care for him.

When Paul first came to see me, he had a very marked stammer (stutter) and his breathing was shallow and fast. He spoke of ‘nice dreams’ and told me that his Mum came to talk to him and asked him how he was. He said that he told her he was fine and said that his Mum told him that she was missing him a lot.

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Wild Rose

Bright pink against a grey wall, the wild rose is resilient, offering its delicate beauty in unexpected places and bringing a message of hope.

Wild-Rose

I was travelling to an appointment and as the train approached the city station, it came to a halt. We passengers shifted in our seats, sighed and then resigned ourselves to being neither here nor there but in a kind of limbo. I looked out of the window at the grubby sidings with piles of broken stone, rusting metal and rubbish.

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Harp Music Assisting Souls Through Transition

Bow_HarpThe harp has been described as an instrument that creates a bridge between the physical and non-physical worlds.

The Ancient Egyptians revered the harp as a sacred instrument, which guided the soul through transition from the physical life to the afterlife.  The Egyptian Pharaoh, Ramses III, had many bow harps painted in his tomb. + Read More

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