The Prescription is Music: Piano – the Grand Emotional Equalizer
By Darlene Koldenhoven, M.M.V., B.M.Ed., iLs-APP, NLP, GRAMMY®, Indie Music Hall of Fame
The Piano is the orchestra of the soul. It has the frequency range, the dynamic depth, the rhythmic pulse, the expressivity of an orchestra although it cannot “sing” like a violin even though it has strings. It is considered to be in the percussion family because the strings are struck with its hammers. Its limitation is that it can only sustain a tone for only several seconds even with the use of its sustain pedal. But if played with the intention of singing, an excellent pianist can make that piano “sing.” The human voice, whether singing or speaking, expresses and evokes emotion. The human pianist best evokes emotion when the thread of his/her preparation is in alignment with his/her intention and feeling, whether improvising a piece or having learned one from memory, whether played by ear or learned from notes on a musical staff. The author Malcom Gladwell in his book Outliers tells us that it takes 10,000 hours to become a master at one’s instrument or skill of any kind; but, even at 2,000 hours, one can begin to enjoy their efforts. The more one became skillful at the instrument, the more it allowed the facilitation of the freedom of expression to thrive musically. Although sometimes just banging on the piano, like a toddler, has its place in the spectrum of emotional release.
My relationship to the piano began at age 7 when my parents brought a lovely upright piano into our home. I was not allowed to touch it all and never did; but my mother would have me lie down under the piano bench with coloring book and crayons while she practiced her beginning lessons. One day, out of exasperation, I got up and told her she kept playing the wrong note and I showed her what note she should be playing. She looked at the music, looked at my finger on the correct note (an E above middle C instead of her F, as I will never forget), freaked out, banged the lid down on the keys and never played the piano again! The local piano teacher unfortunately told her not to start me on lessons until I was 9. My curiosity and frustration began, yet, I never touched that piano. When I finally began lessons, I hated that she made me practice diligently everyday, but only my lesson, and never just to improvise or play to have fun. That was a big mistake on her part. Never-the-less, later in life she told me that when I was having a bad day at school or I was frustrated about something, I would “take it out on the piano.” I would play my lesson pieces extra loudly, for example. As the minutes elapsed, my emotion would subside as it transferred out of me and into the musical vibration of the piano and life would be better. Not realizing what was happening until I was much older, I had innately figured out that the release of one’s emotions in a good way, enhances physical and mental health.
Now as I prepare for the release of my first solo piano album, The Grand Piano Spa and upcoming concerts, all the practicing I hated as a child, I now selfishly enjoy immensely, because I am aware of how much joy, release, grounding, and connection, it brings to me. As a sound healer, my intention is to transfer that pleasure to my listeners. Playing the piano has become my emotional equalizer, my daily dose of good medicine to get me through the isolation of this pandemic and all the baggage that comes with it. As a listener, perhaps the solo piano is good medicine for you too, like having a good friend with whom to make a healing connection.
There is something about listening to a solo pianist that is almost voyeuristic, as if peering into the soul of that person. Even more so if listening from another room of the house or with your eyes closed in an auditorium. The privacy is enthralling. A unique place of audience is lying down under a grand piano while the player plays. It can be a most relaxing, even meditative, experience, almost other worldly, as one can be totally immersed in the vibration of the instrument. I’ve invited many a friend to undergo (as it were) that sensation to their utter delight. Sometimes, I will use it as a gateway to using vibration for healing purposes with my clients. If you can’t find your way underneath a grand piano being played, there are many solo piano albums by a variety of artist from Classical to New Age to help you achieve balance and connection in life. Just put on the headphones if you have them, lie down, listen and imagine you are under that grand instrument, that grand emotional equalizer, that carries away all the stress and cares of the day . . . almost like being at a spa, enjoying a lovely, restorative bath of sound.
Darlene Koldenhoven, M.M.V, B.M.Ed, NLP, iLs-APP certifications, Grammy Winner & 3-time nominee, Indie Music Hall of Fame Inductee. Recording artist with several multi-award winning, #1 New Age albums, some played in hospitals and hospices worldwide. Author, “Tune Your Voice: Singing and Your Mind’s Musical Ear.” International speaker and workshop facilitator on music education and sonic therapy. Private practice in voice and sonic therapy; in person or remotely. More info at DarleneKoldenhoven.com, ListeningMatrix.com, TuneYourVoice.net, WellnessVoiceWorkshop.com.
©2021 Darlene Koldenhoven. All rights reserved.