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CONFERENCE ABSTRACTS

Benefits of singing on young people

An informal view of the benefits of singing on young people, with particularly reference to my work as the Artistic Director of the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain. Through first-hand experience and sharing various anecdotes I emphasise the importance of music and particularly singing in the lives of young people, and how singing in a choir can improve wellbeing and mental health.

Music and Spirituality

My spiritual journey includes Buddhist meditation, Christian worshipping and Bible study and I was also in contact with Yoga meditation. This blend of spiritual practices, but mostly the study of European philosophy, starting with Seneca and continuing to Spinoza and Schopenhauer have influenced my life and my work as composer and conductor. In the last years, I dedicated time to composition, and I offered a special place to Buddhist meditation in my works, such as Tibet Impressions and Meditation with a Buddhist and as well in my second symphony. My works are at the same time exotic and describing the Chinese ancient culture in the European symphonic language, but they do have a spiritual and ritual dimension. My presentation is describing my spiritual and cultural journey, from Chinese cultural revolution to the conductor I am today an gives an image about the healing power of music and of the immersing in different spiritual traditions. I am explaining, at the same time the relation between knowledge and inspiration in the process of musical learning and musical decision, in the process of musical performance. The connection with the inner peace and the Spirit discovered during meditation is a priceless gift that makes the work of a musician meaningful, unique and truth. I believe in a world where cultural exchange is creating new communication bridges between people, where the mutual understanding comes from experimenting spirituality and where the music will reach its purpose of making people happy rather than creating a show and be spectacular in order to create more profit.

Psychological benefits of music intervention

Let me clarify I am a performing musician for the last 2 decades performing various genres of music and I am by no means an authority on anything remotely connected to music therapy . In the literature, there’s a tendency to talk rather loosely about music therapy without respecting the definition of music therapy by the American Music Therapy Association or other bodies of repute . So, I've tended to use the word music intervention as a term more broadly to talk about musical interactions that aren't necessarily music therapy. Just to clarify, music therapy is the evidence-based use of music in clinical situations that help people reach desired health outcomes. And it’s normally practiced by a licensed music therapist – a music therapy practitioner – and there are special training programs for that. I would like to briefly talk about my experience as a Hindustani classical music teacher both in vocals as well as instrumentals like slide guitar in hindustani styles , violin ukulele etc . While the effects of music on people are not fully understood, studies have shown that when you hear music to your liking, the brain actually releases a chemical called dopamine that has positive effects on mood. Music can make us feel strong emotions, such as joy, sadness, or fear—some will agree that it has the power to move us. According to some researchers, music may even have the power to improve our health and well-being.

Therapeutic effects of music through the eyes of a musician

"sisurvetti pasurvetti vetti gana rasam panihi" is a famous quote in Carnatic music. It means that the entire universe, ranging from a new-born baby to a dancing snake can be pervaded by the vibrations of music. This would suggest that our ancestors would have already known about the positive effects of musical vibrations. Let us assume that the whole universe is a huge sound frequency and that the music that we sing, or play matches the same frequency. In doing so, the cumulative effect of these sound waves might be able to produce a therapeutic effect that can cure a whole lot of disorders and ailments. So, the aim of my presentation today would be to understand these effects, how they were used in the past, how they can be used presently and what the future may look like. If we go back through Indian history, a Tamizh epic named Cilappatikaram of Sangam literature in the Chola kingdom, mentions the love story of a couple Kannagi and Kovalan. In that story, there is an incident where musical sounds could calm down a mad elephant. It also states that some ragas are used to relieve pregnant ladies, implying that the basics of music therapy were laid down during ancient times itself. Coming to present times, in one of the medical research papers, the Journal of Anaesthesia & critical care mentions that intra operative Indian classical music therapy effectively reduced the chances of intra operative stress (as revealed by reduced levels of cortisol) and reduced the requirement of drugs during a cardiopulmonary bypass surgery. In addition to this, there are several cases I came across during my teaching career for years, where some mentally and physically unstable children made progress through learning vocal music. I have also noticed that the vocal exercises and breathing techniques that we teach while singing, were able to relieve some asthmatic children to reduce the use of oral sprays and eventually get rid of asthma. Above all these the lyrical richness of the innumerable compositions in Carnatic Music could work as speech therapy and reduce stammering in many children. Hence it would be very interesting to study these effects of musical frequencies as medical frequencies in further detail.

Using music and yoga for adolescent mental health and wellness

In a recent survey conducted by WHO (2019, Geneva), the mental and physical health of adolescent kids have worsened in the last decade due to lack of healthy lifestyle, sleeplessness, electronic gadget addiction, no physical activity. This provoked me to work on the mental health of kids and I had discussions with, scholars – for detailing of ragas and their frequencies and yoga trainers1 – basic āsanās for stress and anxiety. I had several experiences in counselling and guiding children to a smooth transition and enjoy the adolescent stage with the help of music and yoga. I have given proper pathways to children (fun health assignments, music creativity games, raga therapy2 etc) and have given specific guidelines for parents to inculcate a healthy lifestyle in children3. I have incorporated a default programme of meditation, breathing, some āsanas for anger management and stress relief4, rāga vistāram (voice culture in special ragās for mind balancing, relaxation5), in my music school. 1 Discussion with Smt.Indira Vinayakumar,yoga trainer, Kerala 2 Discussion with Dr.Rajnandini (Hindustani music scholar doing music and meditation programme),Barcelona. 3 The holistic yoga, Swami Shantidharmananda saraswati,published by DCbooks,Kottayam 2006. 4 Discussion with Smt.Dharini Mohan, Stress relief meditation expert, Amsterdam

Music, Neuroscience and Psychology of well-being

From the ancient times, music and art has become an intrinsic part of every human culture and society. Whenever there were challenging times and upheavals on our Planet Earth, music always has been a constant companion to bring solace and healing to the mind and body. Music is universally accepted as something helpful during the times of wars and pandemics. Sufi Master Hazrat Inayat Khan said that "He who knows the secret of the sound knows the mystery of the whole universe". Music is the bridge between the visible and invisible, gross and subtle, outer, and inner. Whenever we hear our favorite piece of music, we are transported for a moment to some other dimension and our routine habitual mind become still and silent. Meditation and music can go hand in hand. Music has a medicinal quality and research in neuroscience and psychology is validating the fact that music facilitates the healing process in the body and mind. Some of the neurotransmitters like dopamine, etc., which are released into the blood stream creates the state of wellbeing. Shamans and ancient spiritual traditions always used their voice to chant and sing together to express the inexpressible. The healing power of music cannot be underestimated, and it can uplift the spirit of the listener and allow them to let go of the emotional stress. Everything can be best understood through its vibratory aspects and, of all the arts, music reaches us through the air, in a pure form of vibration. The vibrational frequencies emitted by the music have an energetic effect on us and it has the power to penetrate to the core of our being and make us experience joy and peace. Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu! 'May all beings be happy and free from suffering!

As a Romanian musicologist holding a PhD and 26 years of practicing Sahaja Yoga discipline, I will insist on the practical part of integrating Yoga, breathing and music in the daily discipline of musicians, regardless of the genre practiced. During the lockdown, I have taken and published interviews from several prominent musicians and I have noticed three common directions that these musicians approached: importance of culture in a developed society, work discipline of musicians and the spiritual direction of their work and living. While asking one of the musicians if he is practicing any kind of meditation, he replied: what do you think I do when I play violin? I meditate. THAT IS my meditation.”. Indeed, practicing professional music can be by itself a form of meditation, of spiritual practice, even the musician is not really aware of what is happening inside of his own nervous system while he is doing his daily practice. As both music practitioner (I am a classical soprano) and experienced yogini, I am basing this presentation on both experiences, bringing upfront the connecting elements. The presentation is practice oriented and will start with the experiment of Self Realization through Kundalini awakening as taught and with the blessings of Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi, the founder of Sahaja Yoga. The next chapter will be accompanied also by practical exercise, and will explain the experimenting of prana-mana through breathing techniques of Sahaja Yoga discipline, thus learning how to control the emotional side of our being. And the last chapter is dedicated to music practicing, its role into meditation and the role of meditation into the musician’s life, starting from the Indian theory about the music and ending with physical exercises and voice training in the European classical tradition.

Drumming and its positive effect on mental health

As a child I discovered that drumming and being in rhythm can bring you into a zone, mentally and physically that is effortless. This balance I have continued to search through my 30 years of drumming life. But rhythm can do even more. It can connect us with other beings on a level where language stops. Today I will take you with me on my Rhythm Diaries, a journey that took all around the world collaborating with musicians in Cuba,. Brazil, Europe, South Africa and India. I will share stories with you when rhythm did wonderful things. When it enabled us to connect and get into the flow together.

As a freelancing jazz saxophonist, teacher and composer, who studied Karnatik music in Chennai 20 years ago, I would like to talk about the different approaches of the European- and Indian way of studying and playing music. (reflecting the rules versus following the guru without questioning) There are similarities, like the root of music in both cultures is based on religious and ritual roots, differences in the education ( generally organised in schools versus one-to-one teacher-based learning) I want to talk about the positive and negative results of both and I will resume in the conclusion that a combination of both might be the most effective way to go. Both types of music (Jazz & Karnatik) are based on Improvisation. improvisation is composition in the moment. This is only possible, if you get in the „flow“. „In positive psychology, a flow state, also known colloquially as being in the zone, is the mental state in which a person performing some activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by the complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting transformation in one's sense of time.“ Wikipedia -A kind of meditative state of mind while acting. I think, practicing this state of mind is the best way to a fulfilled life in freedom with oneself. Music is a wonderful tool to realise and train the mind actively or just listening to it, if the attitude is based on a real wish to get into it without hidden selfish purposes or greed.

"Modulating the spirit by modulating sound; emotion modulation MODAL-ity". Rhythm is an inherent trait of all Creation, especially of life itself. Starting from atomic level, all the way to galactic movement. Sound is vibration, which is a steady rhythm; so we can say that all sound is expression of rhythm; of pulsation. As the Cosmos finds a harmony of being, the “sounds” of its parts come into resonance, causing a sort of “music” - the so called “music of the spheres”. Everything that is, is a rhythm in itself; all coming together in the symphony of Creation. Throughout human history, this relationship has been part of the scope and curiosity of astronomy, mathematics and music, preoccupying Greek, Persian, Indian, Chinese, Babylonian, Egyptian, Ottoman civilisation scholars -to name some. Harmony is inherent to and necessary for life. Part of human nature is to seek and maintain harmony-with self and with surroundings-if not for the greater good, at least for own survival. Music appeared as an intuitive pursuit to grasp these harmonies: to understand, search, modulate, elaborate and experiment. Music seems to be a common element when people come together-either socially, or for rituals. Music has been used as a mood regulator-starting from shaman ‘spirit’ practices, celebration/warfare mood enhancer, mass ceremonies, to recreational audition. Different melodies have different feel. Civilisations and eras have a specific and recognisable “something” to their music. Like food. Like art. Like the way of living. What is this “something”? Where does it come from, what produces it? Why is music such a personal and mood-dependent thing? Is it something conscious? Do we know ways to influence this ‘flavour’ (like the rasa in Ayurveda) of sound? Can we ‘cook’ sound to a ‘food’ we want, we need, or even to a medicine?

Positive impact of yoga on mental health

I am a yoga trainer and practitioner for number of years. I conducted Yoga workshops for healthcare professionals in my hospital and West Yorkshire and recently in the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin Mid-Year conference 2020. Globally, mental health disorders account for a third of healthy life years lost, placing mental health disorders at a distant first in global burden of disease in terms of years lived with disability. Depression is often associated with anxiety, psychotic disorders and other health problems such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. In this presentation, I explore how Yoga can positively impact mental health with scientific evidence from research studies from World renowned universities. I also provide resources to further explore Yoga and start with simple daily practices. I highly recommend that Yoga should form part of main stream curriculum with more importance than other subjects such as math and sciences. This should be taught in all educational institutes, right from primary schools. For what use there is with all this knowledge and technological development that we currently have, if we are unable to manage our own body and mind. I emphasize that when we become balanced and more inclusive individuals this World will become a better place for all of us to live in.

Yoga and Indian music andthe connection between philosophy and practice

Music has always held an exalted place in the Indian way of life. This status of music as gandharva veda permeates all the way down to current day music pedagogy and practice. The term naada yoga refers to music as a means of spiritual liberation. Yoga, currently a billion dollar global industry traces its roots to ancient Indian works. Dr Kannikeswaran will explore the roots of yoga and Indian music andthe connection between philosophy and practice. An understanding of this philosophy would open up musical and other possibilities for cross cultural understanding and meaningful peace initiatives in a global world ravaged by a 21st century pandemic.

Here are several strategies business leaders can use to create a mentally healthy workplace:

1. Promote a work/life balance.
Praising employees who work late and arrive early, or expecting them to work from home in the evenings hurts your company in the long run. Encourage everyone to develop a rich, full life outside of the office. People who engage in hobbies, spend time with loved ones, and take time to care for themselves make better employees.

2. Discuss mental health in the workplace.
Don't be afraid to bring up issues related to stress, depression, anxiety, or other mental illness. Make it clear everyone struggles to stay mentally healthy sometimes. Educate managers about the signs of mental health problems and train them to respond appropriately.

3. Offer free screening tools.
Most mental health issues are left untreated because employees don't recognize the signs and symptoms. They may pass off their issues as "stress" or they may try to convince themselves their problems will go away on their own. .

4. Talk about EAP benefits often.
Offering an EAP benefit that allows employees to access a handful of therapy sessions for free is important. Whether an employee is experiencing marital issues or insomnia, EAPs can help employees deal with the issues that detract from their performance

5. Make wellness a priority.
Exercise, healthy eating, and participation in leisure activities are a few simple ways to build mental strength and improve mental health. So make it a priority to help people develop good habits. Whether you offer incentives to employees who participate in wellness programs, or you offer free gym memberships, make wellness a top priority for your organization.

6. Provide in-service events.
Provide employees with in-service trainings on self-care, stress management, and resilience. Hiring a therapist to provide half-day workshops a few times a year could go a long way toward preventing problems and emphasizing the importance of building healthy strategies into your daily life.

7. Support employees' efforts to get help.
Make it clear you support employees' efforts to take care of their minds in the same way you want them to take care of their bodies. Whether that means allowing an employee to take a mental health day or offering a flexible work schedule so an individual can attend therapy appointments, make it clear you won't penalize anyone for taking care of their mental health.

8. Reduce the stigma.
Talking about stress management, self-care, and mental health in meetings and in email communications can reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.

Talk about the target group working with - Young Adult SEN

What are the common challenges faced?

  • Musical abilities but not a lot of technical skills resulting in self-esteem crash
  • Vague instructions and lack of empathy from Educators
  • Executive functioning issues
  • Lack of self advocacy skills

How can these be addressed?

  • Adjusting Teaching Styles and making accommodations
  • Teaching them self awareness and self empathy
  • Teaching them communication skills for advocacy
  • Academic Coaching & Executive Functioning

Manage Mental Health As An Entrepreneur

I’m Helen Brice, Musician, Dialectician, Behaviour Therapy Practitioner, Existential Psychotherapist in private practice, and owner of Stimmung Therapy Services, which is based in Piccadilly in London’s west end. My research is based on experiential examples of twelve years of employment and honorary placements in five different settings: NHS, Higher Education (Trinity Laban Music & Dance Conservatoire, London), Her Majesty’s Prison Service, private hospital and private practice. My specialist interest is performers, musicians, dancers and those in the creative field; but inevitably, my area of expertise lends itself to referrals of burnt-out business men and women, who wish to regain their optimal performing ability so that they can continue to lead.

My film gives you a taste of what I’m like in session with my clients, and you’ll get a flavour of my personality. My narrative introduces you to my client “Jason”, a wealthy, young man originally from a desperately poor, broken, violent family, who describes himself as an entrepreneur, and who says he “cannot function without music”. I’ll share with you how Jason uses music to hone his emotional awareness, on the one hand cheerleading himself and his workforce, on the other immersing himself into sadness to remind him of his beginnings. I will tell you about how music has become a key tool for Jason’s emotional wellbeing and stability, and has the important function of keeping him on the pathway toward ever-increasing emotional and material wealth.

My film takes place in, on and around my wide beam narrowboat, which has also been my workplace for the last nine months, and I take you to the surrounding, watery countryside on the Grand Union Canal and the River Colne in London.

WORLD MUSIC CONFERENCE 2020 – BRIEF ABSTRACT

As our prevalent circumstances have brought about unprecedented experiences of confinement, limited funds, relationship issues and most of all uncertainties. It has resulted in catapulting the global concern to mental-health and well-being.

We have bandied about copious amounts of dietary recommendation over the past years and created an awareness that did not exist before about eating right. But now the spotlight has had to shift to the mental diet and emotional well-being.

As a dance-artiste I am privy to the several mental and physical benefits of dance, on the one-hand supported by research and on the other by personal experiences and that of my students. We all know how movement whether spontaneous party dancing or exercise classes can lift our moods. This mood-boosting in the most natural way is what will benefit us across a variety of ages and demographics. Cognitive skills, not to mention increased strength, agility, coordination, balance and critical thinking are some of what we reap.

As the classical forms I have had the privilege to train and perform are holistic experiences, I hope to share some details within these systems that have made a difference to many. The journey from the outer world to the inner world that holds the true power to our well-being! The New Frontier! How do we achieve this much needed psycho-physiological balance and emotional resilience through this mind, body, spirit nexus?

Coordinated movement to music stimulates our brain’s reward centres and releases “happy hormones” like dopamine. This stimulation is evident in MRI scans that show how active areas of the brain light up with music and dance. This could also help our worldview, which according to Vedic thinking, determines the feelings which drive our behavior (likes, dislikes, fear and existential issues).

How Yoga and Ayurveda too helps to enhance our lives. I might even venture to add that Yoga could be considered the Original form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

We delve a little deeper to see how we can equip ourselves with resilience, optimism and balance!