Natural Music-Making

What's this?

Natural Music Making sessions

help people to create

their own health-promoting music

Who are they for?

Almost anyone!

These sessions are for those who would like to:

  • Relax and have fun
  • Experiment with making musical sounds together
  • Explore health-promoting properties of sound
  • Create their own 'Sound Tonic'
  • Experience the benefits of Natural Music Making

These informal Natural Music Making sessions enable people to meet in small, friendly, groups, where they can de-stress, take their minds off everyday problems for a while and take part in a mutual exploration of sound and music: for their own pleasure, to experience effortless learning or to improve general health.

We usually cater for informal groups of between 3 and 30 people. You can form your own special group of like-minded people to try something new, or you can arrange for a group of people to meet, who don't necessarily know each other beforehand, but would like to get to know one another better.

What makes Natural Music Making sessions different?

These sessions have been specially developed to take a fresh, holistic approach to music making, viewing it from a surprisingly non-musical perspective - sound vibrations!

  • We introduce a simple, well-developed workshop model that combines natural sound therapy with conventional music education and community music-making.
  • Participants are able to experiment with different sounds to see which ones make them feel good, then these sounds are drawn together into group-created music.
  • Each person works from within their own comfort zone and extends their experience only when they feel ready to do so.

What is the aim?

The aim is for people to experience making musical sounds rather than producing a particular level of performance:

  • To raise awareness of health promotion through sound and music
  • To enable experienced and non-experienced musicians alike to be included in informal music-making sessions
  • To bring attention to a fresh, holistic perspective of music through an exciting mix of tried and tested methods, techniques and practices already in common use in the fields of art, education, science and spirituality.

How do Natural Music Making sessions work?

People usually have a healthy curiosity about themselves, so this is where we start!

  • We ask questions about how people respond to various sounds and this generally leads to easy engagement and provokes interest in the nature of sound, space and each other
  • Discussion, experimentation and negotiation decide which sounds will be included in the group's semi-improvised music
  • Carefully selected sounds are woven together into a rich tapestry of diverse textures and patterns, to provide broader patterns overall, for each individual and the group as a whole to enjoy.

This informal approach invites learning through the back door and helps to put people at ease about their musical ability, by making it fun to take part in the group exploration and creation of spontaneous music.

How are Natural Music Making sessions different from other music workshops?

Participants are guided through an informal practical investigation of sound, to explore easy ways of creating music that is health-enhancing and collectively improvised:

  • We begin by considering questions like, "How does this sound seem to you?" and "How does it make you feel inside?" “Do you think that certain sounds can affect the way we think, feel or behave? And if so, do you think that we can make sounds together that are likely to improve our sense of well-being?” All answers are equally valid, which helps to put people at ease and builds confidence.
  • The group is helped to check out certain ideas for themselves to determine what they think, feel and believe about health-promoting properties of sound.
  • The process results in group-led music making that includes and engages all concerned.
  • People gain opportunities to learn experientially about sound and music at the same time as improvising new music.
  • This style of music making inevitably helps to develop personal and social harmony.

How do we know that this approach works?

Throughout the ages and all around the world, humans have displayed their ability to make musical sounds together to share enjoyment, educate and improve well-being. Penny has applied her particular skills, knowledge and experience to develop a specific model called 'Natural Music Making' to enable people to exercise and enjoy their innate musicality in today's modern world.

In self-reported surveys, participants of Natural Music Making sessions provided evidence that shows that these sessions helped them to enjoy themselves, learn something new and create sounds that improved the way they were feeling. These results can be taken as a clear indication that the N.M.M. sessions helped the participants towards improved personal and social harmony at least to some degree:

100% of participants reported that they "enjoyed the session"; 85% "learnt something helpful" (with 15% "not sure"); and 75% reported that the sounds they made "improved" the way they were feeling (with 20% not sure and 5% considering themselves to be 'tone deaf' and making comments such as "Can't sing - never could - so perhaps not for me (I rarely listen to music)". However, this same participant also reported that they enjoyed the experience but were 'not sure' if they learnt something helpful.

What is particularly interesting about this survey is that 20% of participants independently volunteered the information that by the end of the session they felt calm and relaxed; and that this was extremely unusual for them and a welcome change.

Some examples of their comments:

"I loved singing, although I am not a natural singer"

"It was a joy to be part of the harmonies produced by the group - many of whom would have declared themselves 'non-singers' if asked"

"Most helpful and something I will definitely try in the future"

"You have inspired me to use more sound healing in my yoga classes"

"Very helpful and enlightening. Thanks"

"Inspirational. Want to find out more" and

"I feel very relaxed which does not happen often! Thank you"

Some of the many benefits of collective music-making are:

Mental - diversion, engagement and relaxation - through having:

  • A space to enjoy the sounds of natural music and allow new thinking patterns to emerge
  • Gentle exercise and practice of observation, recall and communication
  • Opportunities to challenge, strengthen and re-evaluate ideas and beliefs

Physical - relaxation or invigoration for specific or general parts of us - in response to:

  • Sound vibrations created by our music
  • Dancing and swaying, singing or playing
  • Sound frequencies and rhythms that stir our cells and our bodies into similar movement through entrainment and group-minded synergy - drawing those concerned into synch with each other to move together as one.

Spiritual - a space to experience individuality within unity - through:

  • Sharing a similar experience with those around us
  • Gaining trust and understanding
  • Recognising authenticity in ourselves and each other

When a group of people create music together, they have a wonderful opportunity to become very present and sense the way things simply are within the group at that moment. Focusing on the various sounds that are being produced is a great way to bring attention to what is happening around us right now.

Being able to hear ourselves out loud informs us of many things, especially how harmonious we are as a group and what our collective potential might be. Most of us recognise harmony when we hear (or sense) it, and when we are in synch. with others, we gain a comfortable sense of achievement and also gather useful information about ourselves and the company we are in.

Gaining a better understanding of each other and our circumstances in this way makes it easier to see how we might be able to support each other, or be supported by each other, in our daily lives. Also, knowing what is realistically possible allows us to make well-informed decisions. The decisions we make today affect our future, so by making music together we are taking important steps towards improving the quality of life for everyone involved tomorrow.

Natural Music Making sessions facilitate these benefits by beginning with discussion about sound and how it can affect us, then warm-ups where breath-watching, single-pointed focus, mindful sound-making and careful listening are practised.

The main exploratory section, helps people to pay attention to their own senses by finding musical sounds that provoke pleasing responses. Group members decide on a helpful message they would like to express and work together to find suitable sounds to convey and amplify that message.

Each participant works from within his/her comfort zone and creates simple, easily repeated patterns. These patterns are then woven together into a rich tapestry of raw, vibrant music which reflects the nature of the group itself and celebrates the wonderfully varied mixture of individuals within it.

Small patterns emerge as broader, stronger patterns overall and this has the effect of drawing the group together into synch. with each other. When a group is drawn into moving and reacting as one unit - as a flock of birds or a shoal of fish might - they are likely to experience the thrill of being blissfully carried along by their collective music. The enjoyable feeling of shared relief and support helps people to gain a sense of well-being - or being in 'sound health'.

In the Preface to his book ‘The Healing Voice’[1], James D’Angelo refers to ‘Sound Health’ as being:

“- a state in which the physical body feels totally relaxed, fine energy flows without

inhibition, quietude of mind prevails and body, mind and spirit are in unity.”

Natural Music Making sessions help people take musical steps towards sound health.

[1] Thorsons London 2001 (Page xii)

Please get in touch with Penny for more details:

Email: penny@open2sound.co.uk Phone: 01588 620867