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Tuning our instrument to vibrate in harmony with the deep current of life

Next Generation of Trainers

Tuning our instrument to vibrate in harmony with the deep current of life

By Debbie Priest on April 30, 2011

“Music has a more powerful potential to educate
than any other educational medium,
because harmony and rhythm of naturally structured music
find their way into the deepest depths of the soul
and unfold its natural beauty and dignity.” Socrates

I was born into a family of musicians. My grandfather, dad, brothers, uncles and aunt all played the trumpet. Wanting to be different I chose the saxophone. I also remember singing, my dad had me up in front of church singing a solo at age 7. My musical talent landed me one of my first jobs as an activity coordinator in a long-term care facility. I loved leading sing-alongs, especially in the Alzheimer’s unit. It seemed magical the way music could bring people with dementia out of their confusion and emotional pain. I began leading groups under the supervision of a music therapist. This experience taught me the power of participation. When the residents went from being passive observers to actually participating in creating the music we noticed significant positive shifts in their emotional and mental well-being. This is why I consider participation to be one of the most important skills in receiving the healing and powerful benefits of music.

Participation is also what makes Nia so beneficial. I generally do not let people watch my class. You can’t know Nia until you engage with Nia. Same for music….you cannot know music until you engage with music. Music appreciation through Nia teaches me to engage with music deeper than I ever imagined. The art of listening, being seduced by the music allows me to become intimate and connected with sound and silence. The practice of RAW, relaxed body, alert mind and waiting spirit has the potential to bring me into a meditative, receptive state where my body/mind/emotions/spirit are able to receive and process much more than usual.

During a drumming circle last week I noticed moments of clarity when I experienced the flow of the music creating itself. This happened when the internal dialogue/monologue stopped and I became aware of every sound. It was an incredible unifying, harmonious and connected experience. The sensation of RAW was present. The practice of RAW brings one into attunement. Attunement is defined as “to bring into a harmonious or responsive relationship.” One cannot experience attunement without entering into silence. Paying attention to details, both sound and silence create an environment for truly receiving the healing benefits of music.


My body perceives music by becoming still and also by moving. Being in stillness I am pure receiving, allowing the sounds to come and go in sound and silence. Being in movement my body transmits the sounds it receives through movement. Connecting body movement to sounds my body becomes a visual representation of the music. As I allow the sounds in by becoming intimate with the music through the art of listening my body responds with natural movement.


The beauty of music connects me to the eternal. It is through music that I am connected to Spirit. As Beethoven said, “Music is the climate of my soul, there it flowers.”