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Make Sure Your Wedding Jazz Music Really Swings!

Your wedding is one of the most important days in your life, which means that it's important to get every detail just right! In order to make sure things run smoothly it's helpful to appoint someone to follow through on each and every aspect of your day so you can focus on the fun with family and friends. So after the ring, the shoes, the dress, the ceremony, the cake, the limo, and all those other details - the music is the key component that determines whether your reception is a dance party or a nice dinner party. Nothing beats a live band with a fabulous singer playing your favorite songs!

It's the swing and sophistication of current popular jazz that has such a strong appeal now-a-days. So with that in mind, take a look at these ideas:

Music Playing As Your Guests Arrive - The Style of music will absolutely set the tone for the evening's parties. Jazz from the 1920s and 40s are often cross-generational, popular hits. Music made famous by great musicians such as Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, or Louis Armstrong and re-made popular today by Michael Buble, Diana Krall, and Harry Connick Jr. can make your party popular for the kids and grandma, and everyone in between. This genre, known as the "Great American Song Book," will set the mood as your reception begins.

Plan for the Flow of the Party, plan (or How To Avoid The Low Points) - The best advice for avoiding low points is to plan ahead. Events such as toasts, bouquet and garter toss and of course the cake cutting should be listed on the timeline and the musicians' breaks can be scheduled to coincide with all of this. Of course it's should be a given that the band will be able to play background music during their intermission.

Don't hire the band for too long (or short) of time - most weddings average between 3 and 4 hours. The fact is most musicians are hired for 4 hours or think of it as a "half-day" rate. So whether it's a trio or an ten pice band with horns, it's basically a labor cost on a per musician basis. Most bands are five to eight musicians and that's can depend on the number of guests, the size of the venue and how much dancing you anticipate for the evening.

Picking the Playlist in Advance - Seasoned professional musicians can play hundreds of songs from memory, but a four hour event will usually mean about 50 songs. It's a good idea to give the band a list of songs you like in advance (roughly 25 or so will usually do it) so they can get an idea of your taste and style. A list of songs you DON'T want played can also be helpful and help the band from making an unintentional faux-pas at your special occasion. Give this list to the band 4 to 6 weeks in advance in case they need to work up a special arrangement of a tune. That's also the time to pick the song you want for your first dance or any other special dances in the evening.

Encourage Dancing - It usually only takes one or two couples (don't count on children) to get others to the dance floor. You may want to suggest to close family or friends to consider helping out here by getting on the floor first. You know better than anyone which of those people are not shy and even a little bold to show off their moves on the dace floor. Another way to encourage dancing is to consider the placement of the band in the room. It's a good idea that food, beverage and the music is in the same room. (You'd be amazed how many times people think about putting the music in "the other room" for dancing. That almost never works!)

Finish Big - Think about the last dance of the evening when working with the band on your playlist. For example, a slow song such as "What a Wonderful World" or a salsa swing version of "Save the Last Dance For Me" are two very different versions of a last dance based on your preference. Of course, the south traditionally does second line parades and a separate brass band to lead everyone out the door has become very popular in the past few years.


The Essentials of Music Healing Therapy

There are four basic, essential principles to using music in healing and sound therapy. These four principles are: brainwave entrainment, intention, sympathetic resonance and pure tone. While these terms may sound complicated, they are very simplistic in nature. Each is necessary in the music healing process, although they function independently of each other.

Not much is known yet about brainwave entrainment, which is alternatively known as brainwave synchronization. Because very few studies have been performed regarding the phenomenon, it is usually associated with parapsychology and pseudoscience, and is not given much credit within the scientific community. However, it has been proved that this phenomenon does exist and is a plausible alternative to modern medicine.

The easy explanation of brainwave synchronization is that the brain constantly sends out many different brainwave "pulses" of varied states simultaneously, instead of one at a time. One singular brainwave state with become dominant, contributing to your current state of mind. With brainwave synchronization utilizing binaural beats, one can actually influence the brain as well as your current mental state.

H.W. Dove, a German Scientist, discovered binaural beats in 1839 when he presented two different frequencies of sound to each ear. The brain then detects the difference between the two frequencies of sound and produces a third, new signal, a binaural beat which is equal to the difference between the two frequencies. For example, if you played a sound frequency of 85Hz in your left ear, and 90Hz in your right ear, the brain would create it's very own frequency signal of 5Hz to make up the difference of the two presented frequencies. Using this method, one can actually induce the brainwave state that they desire.

As both the left and right hemispheres of the brain start to resonate to a binaural beat in synchronization, you now have brainwave entrainment, which research has indicated contributes to extreme creativity, pronounced clarity and inspiration. EEG patterns recorded from different test groups comprised of highly successful individuals also displayed an extraordinarily high level of brainwave entrainment.

Intention is the next essential part of music healing therapy, which is most easily explained as the motivation behind the sound being played. If you think of this in terms of a lullaby sung to a child, which is intended to soothe and relax, versus a heavy metal song intended to vent anger and frustration, you can see how very influential intention is. Having the intention to heal, soothe, and repair can carry from a singer's voice or musician's instrument to the person or persons receiving the sound.

Sympathetic Resonance can be best described as a harmonic phenomenon where one sound will cause a "sympathetic" response or reaction. This can be achieved in many ways, for example when a loud sound will cause windowpanes to rattle, or when a C tuning fork is is struck, a different C tuning fork nearby will also begin to vibrate. When applied to music healing therapy, there must be a resonance between the musician and the listener.

Pure tone is also very important in this process and is a single-frequency tone with no harmonic content (no overtone). You may be most familiar with pure tone if you have ever had a hearing test, and they played pure tones into headphones. Obviously when applied to music healing, harmonic content will most likely be added, but pure tone allows our bodies to heal. When our bodies receive a pure tone our muscles will relax and tension will be released.

These are the four basic building blocks of healing with music. Many other aspects are very important as well but these essential parts of not only sound, but sound and music in healing therapy, must be present in order for healing and relaxation to take place.


Music & Emotions: Can Music Really Make You a Happier Person?

How many times have you turned to music to uplift you even further in happy times, or sought the comfort of music when melancholy strikes?

Music affects us all. But only in recent times have scientists sought to explain and quantify the way music impacts us at an emotional level. Researching the links between melody and the mind indicates that listening to and playing music actually can alter how our brains, and therefore our bodies, function.

It seems that the healing power of music, over body and spirit, is only just starting to be understood, even though music therapy is not new. For many years therapists have been advocating the use of music in both listening and study for the reduction of anxiety and stress, the relief of pain. And music has also been recommended as an aid for positive change in mood and emotional states.

Michael DeBakey, who in 1966 became the first surgeon to successfully implant an artificial heart, is on record saying: "Creating and performing music promotes self-expression and provides self-gratification while giving pleasure to others. In medicine, increasing published reports demonstrate that music has a healing effect on patients."

Doctors now believe using music therapy in hospitals and nursing homes not only makes people feel better, but also makes them heal faster. And across the nation, medical experts are beginning to apply the new revelations about music's impact on the brain to treating patients.

In one study, researcher Michael Thaut and his team detailed how victims of stroke, cerebral palsy and Parkinson's disease who worked to music took bigger, more balanced strides than those whose therapy had no accompaniment.

Other researchers have found the sound of drums may influence how bodies work. Quoted in a 2001 article in USA Today, Suzanne Hasner, chairwoman of the music therapy department at Berklee College of Music in Boston, says even those with dementia or head injuries retain musical ability.

The article reported results of an experiment in which researchers from the Mind-Body Wellness Center in Meadville, Pa., tracked 111 cancer patients who played drums for 30 minutes a day. They found strengthened immune systems and increased levels of cancer-fighting cells in many of the patients.

"Deep in our long-term memory is this rehearsed music," Hasner says. "It is processed in the emotional part of the brain, the amygdala. Here is where you remember the music played at your wedding, the music of your first love, that first dance. Such things can still be remembered even in people with progressive diseases. It can be a window, a way to reach them."

The American Music Therapy Organization claims music therapy may allow for "emotional intimacy with families and caregivers, relaxation for the entire family, and meaningful time spent together in a positive, creative way".

Scientists have been making progress in its exploration into why music should have this effect. In 2001 Dr. Anne Blood and Robert Zatorre of McGill University in Montreal, used positron emission tomography, or PET scans, to find out if particular brain structures were stimulated by music.

In their study, Blood and Zatorre asked 10 musicians, five men and five women, to choose stirring music. The subjects were then given PET scans as they listened to four types of audio stimuli - the selected music, other music, general noise or silence. Each sequence was repeated three times in random order.

Blood said when the subjects heard the music that gave them "chills," the PET scans detected activity in the portions of the brain that are also stimulated by food and sex.

Just why humans developed such a biologically based appreciation of music is still not clear. The appreciation of food and the drive for sex evolved to help the survival of the species, but "music did not develop strictly for survival purposes," Blood told Associated Press at the time.

She also believes that because music activates the parts of the brain that make us happy, this suggests it can benefit our physical and mental well being.

This is good news for patients undergoing surgical operations who experience anxiety in anticipation of those procedures.

Polish researcher, Zbigniew Kucharski, at the Medical Academy of Warsaw, studied the effect of acoustic therapy for fear management in dental patients. During the period from October 2001 to May 2002, 38 dental patients aged between 16 and 60 years were observed. The patients received variations of acoustic therapy, a practice where music is received via headphones and also vibrators.

Dr Kucharski discovered the negative feelings decreased five-fold for patients who received 30 minutes of acoustic therapy both before and after their dental procedure. For the group that heard and felt music only prior to the operation, the fearful feelings reduced by a factor of 1.6 only.

For the last group (the control), which received acoustic therapy only during the operation, there was no change in the degree of fear felt.

A 1992 study identified music listening and relaxation instruction as an effective way to reduce pain and anxiety in women undergoing painful gynecological procedures. And other studies have proved music can reduce other 'negative' human emotions like fear, distress and depression.

Sheri Robb and a team of researchers published a report in the Journal of Music Therapy in 1992, outlining their findings that music assisted relaxation procedures (music listening, deep breathing and other exercises) effectively reduced anxiety in pediatric surgical patients on a burn unit.

"Music," says Esther Mok in the AORN Journal in February 2003, "is an easily administered, non-threatening, non-invasive, and inexpensive tool to calm preoperative anxiety."

So far, according to the same report, researchers cannot be certain why music has a calming affect on many medical patients. One school of thought believes music may reduce stress because it can help patients to relax and also lower blood pressure. Another researcher claims music allows the body's vibrations to synchronize with the rhythms of those around it. For instance, if an anxious patient with a racing heartbeat listens to slow music, his heart rate will slow down and synchronize with the music's rhythm.

Such results are still something of a mystery. The incredible ability that music has to affect and manipulate emotions and the brain is undeniable, and yet still largely inexplicable.

Aside from brain activity, the affect of music on hormone levels in the human body can also be quantified, and there is definite evidence that music can lower levels of cortisol in the body (associated with arousal and stress), and raise levels of melatonin (which can induce sleep). It can also precipitate the release of endorphins, the body's natural painkiller.

But how does music succeed in prompting emotions within us? And why are these emotions often so powerful? The simple answer is that no one knows yet. So far we can quantify some of the emotional responses caused by music, but we cannot yet explain them. But that's OK. I don't have to understand electricity to benefit from light when I switch on a lamp when I come into a room, and I don't have to understand why music can make me feel better emotionally. It just does - our Creator made us that way.


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