Sound is a multiverse. It is an infinite realm of being and potential. It can take us to the far reaches of our psyche, provide strength when we are feeling weak and comfort when we need it most. Sound is THE universal form of communication and a powerful connective tissue for our world transcending space and time. Sound is also a lifeline for individuals with special needs that bypasses the need for and limitations of verbal communication. As such, sonic and musical experiences can be a perfect normalizing container for supporting growth in extramusical skill sets such as proprioception, gross and fine motor skills, joint attention, cognitive and social skills.
This is due to the fact that sound and music have the ability to make us physically move. It’s a natural response. Rhythm is the great organizer. Interacting through physical movement with music and sound helps us experience structure and personal organization.
Pioneers in the field of movement and music in therapy such as Paul Nordoff and Clive Robbins, and Emile Jaques-Dalcroze in the field of music education, have paved the way for our understanding of music’s inseparable connection with movement and its use as a formattable tool for encouraging physical behavior. This kind of intrinsic motivation is especially important for individuals who are in need of extra support to perform physical protocols during trying situations such as physical or occupational therapy. Performing the same tedious and often uncomfortable movements, when synchronized with just the right music or soundscape, can have a transformative effect on the participants perception of the entire experience.
A More Modern Technology-Driven Approach
For the past 20 years I have devoted much of my musical life to creating sonic and musical experiences that can support growth in targeted behaviors. These compositions and sonic explorations were performed in real time to promote individuals’ engagement during non-preferred and physically challenging protocols. My musical offerings ranged from simple song accompaniments in a participants’ favorite style and communal music making with found instruments to percussion ensembles and electronic hybrid orchestras.
In the last couple of years however, technology has provided a platform in which we can experience a physical connection to music in a way that we never could before.
Imagine playing with sound, interacting with the “music of the spheres” in real time. Imagine becoming a sonic alchemist, not just a passive bystander, all with just the wave of your hand or the nod of your head.
The ability to control a universe of sound, by just moving, opens a whole new pallet of musical and interpersonal experiences for everyone but especially for those engaged in a therapeutic process. Individuals with special needs can interact in ensembles in real time and contribute meaningfully to the musical outcome. They can interact musically with practitioners and peers through their movements. They can also access these experiences remotely and independently as they work through their therapeutic protocols.
It has been probably my greatest musical pleasure creating musical and sonic experiences for Sound Sage. It is so wonderful to see interactive musical experiences become accessible for everyone. It is doubly so to see the potential of using these experiences to enhance the lives of my fellow musical pilgrims.