Creating Rhythm in the Smart Age

goodman01Guest Post by Jordan Goodman, MS

There’s an early scene in the movie “Her,” depicting a probable reality of the not-so-distant future. Theodore (played by Joaquin Phoenix) is riding the subway, communicating only with his empathic “smart” device. And so is everyone else. We have never had the ability to be so connected. We have never been so isolated.

This profound irony will continue to crystallize as new generations are born into an increasingly advanced Smart Age. With this, a growing hunger for more authentic connections will continue to manifest. Something deeper and more meaningful. We experience this in two distinct ways—and drumming can offer a solution!

1. Connection with yourself
Like many of you, I would constantly hear about the benefits of mindfulness meditation. This practice has endured in some form throughout every major religion. Modern science was beginning to catch up too.

Regrettably, it just felt so intangible and foreign to me. But when I was 20, I read something similar to “Mindfulness for Dummies” in my college library. As I sat there, focusing on the breath entering and exiting my nostrils, the intrusive thoughts immediately appeared. “What the hell am I doing?” “This is stupid.” “When will it start working?”

I kept at it though, practicing 2 minutes here and 5 minutes there—for years. And like the muscle memory you develop with an instrument, mindfulness mediation became more natural. It was no longer something I only “practiced,” but an entirely new way of experiencing myself and my world. Then it hit me — I had actually been practicing mindfulness for 2 hours everyday after high school when I rushed home to play my drum set.

When drumming, I became present.

It was fully physical, emotional and spiritual. I wasn’t thinking about my past or future. I was completely—and musically—mindful.

In “Her,” Theodore commutes and works each day while interacting with only his social smart device. He then returns home to lose himself in his completely immersive video game. In one scene, Theodore is actually engaged in a 3-way conversation with his video game avatar and his smart device. With these technologies, Theodore is never alone.

At the same time, Theodore is always alone.

You may know a Theodore in your personal life. There certainly are many out there, and the Smart Age is sure to produce more. I don’t expect every Theodore to take up mindfulness meditation. But what if each Theodore found their own entry way into themselves, much like I did with drumming. For you it may be piano—or writing, running, cooking, yoga, etc. As we become more comfortable within ourselves, our ability to more fully connect with others increases.

2. Connection with others
Leaders of a mental health agency with over 100 employees were recently planning for an all-staff meeting. It was their goal to foster new connections among employees within different areas of the company. They made two choices: they strategically assigned each employee to one of 16 large, circular tables for lunch, and they invited me to share the power of recreational music-making.

During lunch, the employees sat with co-workers from different areas of the company. This worked fine, but like any verbal conversation—only one person can speak at a time (ideally the others are truly listening).

goodman02I explained that drumming is a far more efficient and effective way of bringing people together in a meaningful way. Within seconds, the community members—from secretary to Executive Director—were connecting to something far larger than their individual selves.

As you probably know, music never lets us down.

Imagine if Theodore’s boss scheduled 20 minutes each day for the employees to drum together. Even more, what if someone stepped up to facilitate group music-making with handclaps and vocals on Theodore’s subway commute. Far-fetched or unconventional? Perhaps. But more authentic and meaningful as compared to messing with your iPhone? Absolutely.

We are on that subway—and the destination is Theodore’s world in “Her.” As social creatures, we inherently seek connection. Technology is just making it easier for us to “feel” connected to something. It’s not quite ourselves and it’s not quite someone else. But it’s always there, making it seductively convenient.

As someone with an interest in utilizing one’s natural creativity for health and wellness, I’m calling on you.

We must have the foresight to integrate technology in a way that enhances our mission, while continuing to develop our more natural relationships with ourselves and others. Drumming is just one way to achieve this. As you may know, the possibilities are as vast as your imagination.

It is our responsibility. With courage and creativity, you and I can lead the way!


goodman03Jordan Goodman, M.S. is a professional musician and mental health therapist. He consults and trains health and educational professionals, integrates drumming into individual and group therapies, and shares Beatwell Playshops for wellness and team building throughout his community. Jordan’s website is BeatWell.org.

 

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3 Fear-Confronting Truths I’ve Learned

Dr. Wendy MageeTo the left is Dr. Wendy Magee sharing her expertise on technology and clinical practice in music therapy! Check out her new book at Amazon here.

Today I was honored to speak at the Online Conference for Music Therapy. It was a ton of fun – I love presenting, and I love allowing the audience’s energy to rejuvenate my own. The participants were AMAZING, so insightful and full of wisdom.

Here are 3 things I’ve learned from my own exponential, crazy growth in the past year – personally and professionally:

  1. You gotta PISS OFF the 80% of people who do not subscribe to your WACKY, SCARY vision and mission. That way, the 20% minority of people who “get it” will LOVE you and your contributions all the more.
  2. People will drop out of your life, and let you know that you’re a freak. With every new evolution of yourself, you will hear new opinions and perspectives from others that you’ve never heard before, and never imagined would be coming your way! And that’s a good thing, because then and only then do you know that you are honing in on that 20% of brilliant people.
  3. I will continue to have emotional reactions to others, even when my own evolution is absolutely, no doubt, the best move for my career. And my emotional reactions are such valuable insights into my own fears. And then the information I gather from experiencing my FEARS becomes an opportunity to learn about myself on a deeper level: how I handle, work through, harness the power of, and overcome these fears in life and business. It’s a beautiful cycle.

Here’s my commitment: I will to tune in, listen closely, and study the 20% who share my idea here :: Therapists who step INTO the executive position of CEO are able to serve more people, provide more jobs, and make the impact they’ve always dreamed of.

And hey! If you happen to be in the 20% of awesomeness in the world, then join me and Tim in this virtual conference….
You will TOTALLY dig it: http://empower-u-academy.com/live (There’s a deadline, so jump on it fast.)

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8 Great Marketing Books + True Kat Confessions

In 2003 – 2004, I went through a really difficult time. I was in south France teaching at an English immersion camp called American Village. Best. Job. Ever. During one of our off-weekends, a friend and I visited Nice. That’s when I put my bag (mon sac) on the ground at the train station, and it all started rolling out…

(Life hasn’t always been full of fun corporate drumming like it was last Friday! Thanks Jessie Johnson for this pic!)
Corporate Team Building, San Diego

Money and Security Problems

Someone stole my bag in France. They did it so well, that I didn’t even notice right away. It was bizarre. They were true professionals. Many sentimental items were stolen, including a spontaneous poem that a romantic Italian wrote about us while we were visiting the Vatican. But other items included: our train tickets to the next stop, all of my cash, my drivers license, my passport, my credit cards, all of my toiletries, my journal, and there were some more but I can’t remember.

Imagine being in France with ZERO passport, credit cards, identification, cash. Fortunately my friend Sauce (camp name) was with me, lent me some cash, and sent me off to Marseilles to get an emergency passport.

Health Problems

That was only the beginning. That day became the first day of my 28-day long stress-induced period which caused me to black out and stay bed ridden, in France, at camp, for 3 days.

Romantic Problems

Then my boyfriend came to tour Switzerland with me. We broke up on the trip. This wasn’t just *any* boyfriend. This was love-of-my-life, write-me-love-poems, look-into-my-soul-with-your-eyes boyfriend. We traveled solo after hugging in the cobble-stone streets of some small Swiss town at 11PM for 2 hours straight, not letting go for the entire 2-hour duration.

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If The US Surgeon General Sat In On My Drum Circle, Then I Would ________

US Surgeon General Drum CircleI found myself asking that question a week ago Friday evening, after the fact.

Maybe it was better that I didn’t know that he was sitting there, drumming up a storm, cutting off our rhythm to exclaim “Wellness!” and smiling and having fun.

Let’s do a quick refresher on who the Surgeon General is: Boris Lushniak is the current leading spokesperson on matters of public health in the federal government of the United States, appointed by the president. And after participating in those meetings at the resort (of which the drum circle was a small but memorable part), he now knows the power of music in healthcare.

But I didn’t know that it was HE sitting there, until my buddy Mike told me an hour after it happened. Ha – And boy am I glad I didn’t realize it was he.

Because if the Surgeon General isn’t enough to knock off your boots, imagine facilitating a drum circle with Ben Folds sitting there, too.

I’ve realized that there are two sides of me in situations like these: Professional Kat and Fan Girl Kat.

My friend Draza helped me figure that out when I asked her two weeks ago at a friend’s birthday party, “How do you hold it together when you do healing work on famous people?”

She grinned, kicked her legs up behind her, and said “There is a time and place for the Fan Girl, and sometimes she wants to come out and say ‘I saw you looking at me at your last concert!’ or ‘Can you autograph my drum?’ And the Fan Girl plays over and over in my mind. I see her making cartwheels and hear her squealing, and then, at the same time, I put all my energy into the work in the moment.” Draza went on for a while describing the experience of her work in Malibu with the stars.

I had no idea that she was coaching me for what was to come the next weekend.

I’ve taken an entire week just to process my experience before sharing it here, because. it. blew. my. mind.

When I asked my client what the objectives were, and who would be attending, she said “There will be stakeholders and policy makers participating.” Truth be told, my initial reaction was “I can handle a bunch of boring old suits, loosen them up, help them crack their first smile in a week! Yeah!”

You can imagine my surprise when I walked into the resort and saw Ben Folds chatting it up with Robert Gupta. So, THOSE are “stakeholders and policy makers.” I thought they would be a big group of boring old guys ;)

And what are the chances that less than a WEEK after Ben Folds shared my guitar pick on twitter, he would be standing there at the resort…. The spirits moved me to give him another guitar pick, *just* in case he had lost that other one. #GuitarPickMarketingWorks, no joke.

I had the pleasure of sitting through part of the roundtable discussion, and hearing Meagan Morrow’s story of working with Gabby Giffords. What perfect timing that she happened to be sharing her story with these 45 brilliant minds, when Robert Redford walked in.

He goes by “Bob.” When he picked up the mic to say hello, he insisted that Meagan had much more interesting things to say than himself. He was very impressed with our group, and he had things to take care of. He couldn’t stay for the drum circle.

BUT that’s ok. We had a blast, even without Bob.

My buddy Mike drove up in his Drum Bus, and helped out with all the equipment. He has them in multiple locations. Call him up to see if there’s one in your neighborhood! Check his Drum Bus here:
Drum Bus

Our first circle played in the Drum Bus itself. It was a blast. Then the second circle happened outside. Big thank to Meagan Morrow for sharing these pix with me!

Sundance Drum Circle

SundanceDrum2013b_opt

SundanceDrum2013c_opt
Below is a shot of Maegan, Ben, and Alicia.
SundanceDrum2013d_opt
And of course, they all jammed into the evening over at Bob’s house (Robert Redford’s house, that is)—-
SundanceDrum2013e_opt

Coming back home from an experience like that, feeling the abundance of support thrown at the arts, I’ve been flying around Cloud 9 for a few days. I’m usually flying around there anyway, but this was just a little more jet fuel to propel my spirits into the atmosphere.

I know that I’m positive in an extreme and rare kind of way. I base my future and vision on past successes, because otherwise I’d never take risks. And sometimes I base my future and expectations on absolutely nothing from the past but a leap of faith, knowing that I may fall down very hard. And I have fallen down very hard before.

There have been some really interesting discussions about music, arts, healthcare, and job opportunities lately. A lot of people feel hopeless, and a lot of people have given up on the idea of living your dream job.

I’m not claiming to have answers. But there are some things I know, for sure.

In every economic crisis, in every long-term hardship, in every doom & gloom era of history, there have been people who have thrived. Not just survived and barely made it through… THRIVED, prospered, flourished, succeeded. Not just rich, healthy people either. Even people who start with nothing.

What sets those people apart from the rest?

Lord knows, I have opinions on this. But maybe what’s more important than the opinions, ideas, and answer is just remembering to ask the question.

Thanks for reading, and I hope that you can feel the excitement, hope, exhilaration, and pure bliss that have been running through my veins this past week.

Be well, feel good, and make music! Kat

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5 Celebrations!

I have updates! =) First of all, today was *amazing* and yesterday was just as sweet. So was the day before. Who am I kidding. I’m feeling very blessed.

Life is good.

(1) Here’s what happened in my little Twitterverse today:

Ben Folds Music Therapy

That’s Ben Folds’ dirty thumb holding my guitar pick TODAY that he kept from two years ago when he had dinner with a few of us in Atlanta at #AMTA11. At that time, I wrote about 5 Bolds Statements About AMTA (our national conference that 1,200 music therapists attend every year). I’m still quite proud of #3. Can’t believe I had the guts to write that.

Apparently, my guitar pick got lost in Ben Folds junkitty junk around his house, and then he decided to tweet about it – if only I could be a little germ on that pick.

If I had known way back in high school that some day Ben Folds would be holding MY guitar pick in his hands and tweeting about it, I would’ve taken more risks.

I remember when his first album came out with the first hit: Underground. My little brother and I would turn the volume ALL the way up and jump around the house when my mom and dad weren’t home (sorry mom and dad). I could SO relate to the lyrics, making fun of the trends and the cool people, not fitting in, etc, etc. I absolutely despised my time spent in high school, so any little break away into an imaginary world through a song would help me through.

But Ben’s songs especially touched me. I went to *every* single concert he played in Atlanta. I remember standing in the audience watching his grand finale as he climbed up three stories at Variety Playhouse and threw his piano bench on top of the piano for the last notes. It was pretty cool.

If only I had known that Ben was just a regular guy =) I would’ve been bolder. I would’ve spoken even more of my values and beliefs out loud from a mountaintop. From the get-go.

So, I’m glad this little Twitter event has helped me become even more of myself today =) and realize that this is IT. This is my alive-time, and my chance to go out there and speak my mind, be myself, regardless of the consequences, regardless of what people say or how they react… What’s important is to be ME, and make myself a life-long study, and not hold back. I spent several years of my life being polite, quiet, and too embarrassed to speak… sooooo quiet that I developed a lump in my throat and recurring laryngitis. No more, my friend.

If Ben Folds can go out, be his loving, generous, talented BOLD self, and express himself as he sees fit, then so can I =) Thanks for the inspiration, Ben.

Crazy! (2) The next piece of news is that I’m getting married. It’s all very exciting and cool. Matt is the most amazingly supportive, generous, kindest guy I have ever met, and I’m so lucky!

(3) Then the third piece of news is about something new we’re going to publish here on the blog. Pay attention in the upcoming weeks. And if you’re not on the email list, then jump on it NOW (scroll UP and enter you name and email to the right!) especially if you’d like to check out a new, free video training we are releasing in the upcoming weeks. If you have socks on now, then beware. They will be totally knocked off when you see our first video! But you’ll only get it if you’re on the email list.

(4) I’ve been invited to do two retreats this fall. I’m a thrilled to fly up to Utah to facilitate drum circles for the NAMM Foundation in two weeks. Also, I’ll be trekking up to UCLA to serve nurses in a restorative, rejuvenating retreat in October. I’m bouncing off the walls, so excited to facilitate these events!

(5) Lastly, click “Play” to see dozens of videos that feature drumming ideas and chants! I’ve never actually embedded an entire youtube playlist until now, and boy, is this handy! Just scroll around and click on “Playlist” when you’d like to switch vids.

After sharing all this, I’d love to know… Tell me something that I can CELEBRATE about YOU!! Be open, flaunt it, brag a little — Don’t be shy! It’s such a great exercise to write out something about yourself that you are proud of, something through which we can all feel JOY about YOU — Spill the beans! =) At least one little thing….

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