A Music Healing Manifesto

by Steven Bergdall

In recent years, I have become more aware of the healing power of sound and music in my life.  Whether listening to a symphony or a chorus of frogs, whether toning my voice in a quiet room or improvising with friends in a basement full of keyboards and drums, there is no denying the therapeutic value of my experience of sound.  This experience has taught me that when we make sound with healing intention, or listen to sound with open-hearted (non-judgmental) attention, a world of limitless possibilities opens before us.

Some of these possibilities include:

  • expression and release of emotions
  • restoration of balance to the body and regulation of the body’s rhythms
  • stimulation of the nitric oxide cycle, promoting healthy functioning of body tissues
  • the opportunity to embody the Creator and explore the power of the imagination to transform states of consciousness
  • experience of spiritual connectedness and devotion

In other words, sound and music can be medicine for the whole person: Body, Soul, Mind, and Spirit.

Though music in the West has become largely commercialized, entertainment-minded, and therefore competitive, many cultures of the world still honor and depend on music’s power to:

  • heal
  • restore
  • release
  • balance
  • unify
  • express
  • calm
  • focus
  • evoke
  • invoke
  • journey
  • engage
  • stimulate

This kind of music-making and its benefits are the birthright of every human being, and it is my vision and intention to bring restoration to individuals and communities through intentional music.

This vision led me to enroll in the Sound, Voice, and Music Healing Certificate program at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco.  The program provided me with a wealth of information and exposed me to many perspectives on the ancient art and emerging science of sound healing.  Therapeutic group improvisation, complexity science, bioacoustics, elemental and transpersonal psychology, intuitive healing, rhythmic patterns, shamanic techniques, auditory stimulation, guided imagery, devotional chanting–all these may enter the sound healing equation, and there are many more possibilities beyond.

All this has led me to reassess my values as a musician and to increase in awareness of the conditioning I have received.  I have not and will not be satisfied by making music as an act of self-glorification, especially since self-criticism is often lurking in the wings.   Instead I dedicate my musical talents to the greater good of all beings, in gratitude for all that I have received.

I am equipped to provide the following services as a Sound and Music Healing practitioner:

  • facilitate expression and healing through improvised sound/music sessions with individuals or groups
  • administer to those in need of healing by playing horn, piano, or other instruments (in hospitals, nursing homes, behavioral health facilities, schools, churches, concert halls, or in public)
  • enhance others’ creative expression and awareness through teaching musical skills such as instrumental technique and practice, notation, composition, and theory
  • collaborate as a composer and instrumentalist with other trained musicians, with the intention of shedding the conditioning of conservatory training
  • create customized musical compositions and arrangements, designed to support an individual’s well-being and healthy functioning

I hope to expand this list as I gain experience in the field of healing.

If you are interested in working with me in any of these healing modalities, or wish to make any recommendations (e.g. places to play, people to collaborate with, melodies to include in a healing music repertoire, etc.) please click here to contact me.

Steven Headshot with Horn 2017