Friday, October 19, 2012

Music Therapy


So anyways, I just read a blog by a good friend of mine, and in it he reminisced about playing the piano when he was younger for distraction.
Well I was there when he was younger and I thought back to that simple time in our lives too. I loved it, I truly did. JC is a genius on the piano. Musically anything really, he can pick up a guitar too if he wanted. He could listen to songs and play them by ear, make up his own tunes, lyrics, whatever. At one point we were gonna be a band, man what happened to that idea?
While thinking back to those days I did alot of leaving the house and going to his on our way to some sort of social function or to do regular shinanigans.
I lived out of town and had to drive about 30 minutes to get to his house. In those 30 minutes I would be listening to loud obnoxious music and think of the destructive things we were going to do or not going to do. By the time I got there I was all wound up ready to burst, blow off steam, get the party started, ect...
Most of the time I ended up sitting on his couch waiting for some reason, either we were early (I left the house early all the time, just to get out of the house) or had to wait on someone else to be ready or something. In that waiting time JC would play the piano. I loved listening to him play. I loved the original pieces he would invent, the familiar songs he would figure out and everything in between.
It would relax me, put me at ease and mellow me out. I wasn't destructively thinking anymore, I wasn't all wound up, I was at peace almost.
At some point in my future I thought about going to school, seeing if there was need for musical theory kind of thing. But at the time I didn't realize what it was or what I thought it was.
Latter in life my brain got wound up a different way, certain chemicals didn't produce, or didn't react well to others. So like most people I was medicated to fix those issues. Long story short I finally found a doctor that got it right. Shortly after I ended up losing that doctor. Before we parted ways he gave me advice on stuff that I could do to help my brain combat the fighting chemicals or help it produce its own. Among them were a regular schedule, diet, exercise and something to calm the "bees in a bottle" effect going on in my brain.
Coming up with the calming effect took some thinking. Finally it was "what do I like to do that calms me, that is peaceful?" I like to travel. I like to get there by car, I like long drives in the country. I hated it growing up cuz I was so far away from friends and activities, but now older, a nice long drive through the mountains or desert was nice. I got to listen to good tunes. Mostly quiet stuff to help kids sleep, otherwise it wasn't a pleasant drive.
Since I couldn't drive long distances all the time, I could listen to that quiet music and get at least some of the effect.
So there is was, my vast library of loud obnoxious music soon got dwarfed my library of quieter music. I have a job with a pretty regular schedule, when I'm not broken I exercise sometimes, but I again live 30 minutes away from work and activities. In that short travel time I listen to music, and its mostly quiet stuff.
It helps, its not a cure by all means, but it helps. Its always a constant battle in my brain, and honestly its getting harder to fight as I get older, but I can still fight it.
After finding this counter active effect I realized and wonder if when I was younger I wasn't looking for music theory but music therapy?
After reading JC's article here: Self Editing it took me back to that time and I realized I was getting music therapy back then, just didn't know it.
Which could bring up another topic I fought with my parents about "loud music" and how it can control your actions. All that "Devil made me do it" music parents blamed for their kids destructive behavior. Although I still don't agree with it, there is some truth to it. Sorry mom and dad!
Being a father now myself, I'm getting old cuz my kids' music is too loud!
Sure I still kick out the jams every once in awhile, but mostly when I'm driving or sitting in bed at night with the ear phones on, I'm listening to quiet stuff.
 Some moments when we are younger get burned into our brain until they become logic, routine or comforting. I guess thats why we go to school when we are young, its easier to understand and hold that information in so we can use it when we get older.
 I can think of alot of memories that involved music as a kid, a teenager, a young couple and now as an almost middle aged man.
 I remember laying on the floor in the "music room" of an old house, next to the old stereo. Feeling the heat that came off that thing, the light at the bottom and my mom sitting in the rocking chair, quietly listening to FM100 or the Carpenters while she tries to get a younger brother to sleep. I love that memory, hope I never loose it.
 I remember sitting in mine or my brothers room as they play a vinyl record on a new stereo, I think it was Kiss. Good times. Or driving in someones Camaro and cranking Bob Seger.
 When I lived in California me and my friend Dave made almost weekly excursions to the record store and get some new single or cassette album of a hard rock/heavy metal group.
 Moving to Wyoming I didn't really have to, but I expanded my horizons into country music, then pop, then things progressed and I took some music classes in school, that there is so much that I never knew or never really heard or paid attention too.
 I remember trying to find some song that I had that my dad would like as we drove to certain jobs while working for him in the summer. I found one once, he doesn't know it, but it was a good day. On the way to work I played a group of songs, later through out the day I would hear him whistling the tune. That was a good feeling.
 I recall driving in the middle of the night, new years, had some friends in the car, they were asleep. The car at the time only had a radio, and maybe only AM stations, or at least where we were I could only get an AM station. It was quiet, the heater was going, the light from the stars reflected off the snow in the fields, and off the crackling AM station comes Poco Harum's classic "whiter shade of pale". Within the next few days I had to order the CD from the record store. Been a favorite ever since since
 I bought an album off TV once, you know those "time life music collection" things. Floyd Cramer piano hits, it was awesome. Then came CDs, the CD clubs, did all those a couple times over.
 Now with the digital age changing the way people listen to and purchase music, its great. Although kids are going to have even worse hearing then those of use that used "walkmans" or listened to our loud music in the car. Ear buds are dangerous!
 Then now, I'm following blogs about music, piddling on youtube and what not. I make CDs all the time to listen in the car, my cell phone has a built in mp3 player, I have over 550 songs on it so far.
 Its never far away. I could go on and on, but there are a couple quotes, I think about all the time.
1. The band Boston's album "Third Stage" on the inside of the album cover is a quote "Each individual piece of music relates to a human experience".
2. The Movie Shawshank Redemption,Andy just came back from "the hole" after being punished for playing some Opera over the PA system at the prison. Any and Red are going back and forth talking about "Hope" , Andy says, "That's the beauty of music. They can't get that from you... Haven't you ever felt that way about music? Here's where it makes the most sense. You need it so you don't forget. Forget that... there are places in this world that aren't made out of stone. That there's something inside... that they can't get to, that they can't touch. That's yours". 
 There ya go. Thanks Jace for stiring up memories, helping me when I was younger, helping me develop a therapy I would need when I'm older, and keeping me off drugs ;)

Here is a song from my "Quiet" collection, its actually called Quiet -by Rachel Yamagata:

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