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The Magic of Music Movement, is a Facebook platform that was introduced by Ultimate Music Theory, Founder, CEO, and Host, Glory St. Germain. In it, she presented the Global Healing Power of Music Summit a few months ago over a four-day period. The summit featured music educators in countries from different Continents. Although I was not a part of this particular summit, I took the opportunity to invest in the Passport in order to view and listen to those selected music educators who engaged in conversations on several key elements related to the summit’s topic.

When each individual profiled their own personal experiences, and their “whys” for creating and developing their own “unique” brand of a program to service themselves and students,

it gave them a voice to highlight their expansive knowledge in how music as a disciplined activity - educationally and recreationally - provided an ideal supportive outlet for healing. As the emphasis was on the healing powers of music, each educator explored and declared the great influence that music - in whatever shape or form on some level - has had on the physical/mental/emotional/spiritual well being of a person living through or coping with a crisis/trauma. Therefore, it informed the viewers of how music opened up the world of the human psyche in response to that need to become realigned with an energy that is rehabilitative, positive, and steadfast.

In these unprecedented times where the world is still “battling” the Covid-19 pandemic and the upsurge of the variants, it has become more apparent how this has created concerns on the critical issue of its effects on the mental and emotional health in students (from as young as nursery school to university level), parents working from home, caregivers, and frontline workers. It is intriguing how an invisible creature, unleashed a year ago, has had such a forceful impact on global society. In the valiant attempt to curtail the rise of infections and reduce the fatality statistics, the pendulum swings of imposed lockdowns and curfews further the chaos. On the other side to taking on such drastic measures, the world has seen an escalation in the wave of riots that subsequently led to unlawful and criminal activities. A study in anthropology often raises discussions on why the human species has that innate need for exercising equality and freedom of rights to live life on one’s own terms/preference; not to be held hostage/bondage to a system of restrictions and discrimination; hence, there is always that opportunity to rebel with a cause in order to serve one and other’s interest when those states are prolonged, and intolerance rises to the surface. Therefore, the perception of exercising democracy by intent and design becomes the liberating factor.

Through all of the above, music as an expressive outlet continued to be the one constant in a person’s life that strives to maintain unity and harmony inwardly and outwardly. The Entertainment Industry is one that unrolls a colorful carpet that is unrestricted in its length and width. On the positive side of the pandemic, musicians from all walks of life - for economic survival and to maintain social engagement - were motivated to become more inventive and creative in how they were to deliver their products and services to the masses. One saw that within the Global HPM summit, it opened up a double door entrance invitation into a world order represented by educators, performers/entertainers, researchers, advocates who continued to socially and economically thrive through all of the chaos.

On March 13, 2020, when the world appeared to “spin out of control on its axis” in the sense of becoming more destabilized in its communication amongst nations attending to their citizen's needs, this thrust many more music educators and entertainers to learn to adapt and accept living in another kind of new world reality. As such, it allowed them to stay connected (locally, nationally, and internationally) to their students and parents, their colleagues, an audience. Over the months, individuals became more comfortable virtually “Zooming” in and out of meetings/performing / rehearsing/teaching online. Any selected virtual platform served that ‘modus operand in a nonthreatening distance in the comfort and safety of one’s own bubble on the home front. The online world had also given more access to vast musical resources to keep students engaged and feeling less isolated during lockdowns and safe distancing. Testimonials from students and parents declared how weekly interactive music lessons have “saved their lives” from the mental, emotional stresses that they were experiencing on a daily basis that were also eroding at their ‘spiritual’ sense of self-awareness and well-being!

As I listened to educators sharing their stories in The Global Healing Powers Of Music Summit they reminded me of my own experience decades ago with an adult student. I had the pleasure of teaching Irene for six years. In her retirement, Irene decided to pursue piano lessons because she never had the opportunity as a young child. Because of her love for music, Irene could never quite understand how some children (and their parents) who had the opportunity, gave up on making the effort to keep up with piano lessons and practice in the long term. In our sixth year - mid-term - Irene was diagnosed with cancer. Needless to say, she pursued chemo. treatment that interrupted her commitment to weekly lessons for a while. However, once Irene was in remission she resumed lessons with me. Unfortunately, a relapse occurred and cancer came back where it metastasize to her liver and bones. But, that did not deter Irene from her determination to keep up with weekly lessons. Although I gave Irene permission to discontinue, she insisted otherwise. Each week I could see a weakening of her muscles and cognitive abilities to keep up with reading and playing. At one point in her declining health, Irene literally crawled up the five steps, hanging on to the railing spindles to get to my LR studio. With my help, when she allowed (Irene was a fiercely independent woman), I assisted her to the piano and proceeded to facilitate her in her very very slow pace of learning. Fortunately, I am one who is blessed with patience and empathy and was grateful for the opportunity to have facilitated Irene during that period in her life that turned her into an adult student with special needs. Irene finally had to discontinue lessons with me when she was admitted into palliative care. At Irene’s funeral service, I had a wonderful conversation with the music therapist who worked at Carpenter Hospice where Irene stayed for about a month. She said that Irene, upon arrival and settling in, requested to have a small digital piano keyboard on a table by her bed. Irene managed to pick out and play short tunes on the keys up until the day she died. What I am certain of is that even though the act of playing or listening to music on a CD did not bring back the desired physical healing for Irene, those outlets served her well during the time of palliative care. Her soul’s spirit was lifted, and when the time came it made death and the transition to an ‘after life’ a very peaceful one for her. By my estimation that was another level of healing for Irene.

On Day 4, Session 4, Glory St. Germain interviewed her former piano student Connor who started with her at age 4. As a prodigious pianist at 15, he suffered a near-fatal brain injury that initially paralyzed his right side. Connor’s long rehabilitating journey through the healing process to bring him back to playing the piano again (with both hands) is an inspiring one. Connor has since graduated from university in Jazz studies and is a gigging musician and recording artist. Since his recovery, Conor has been going to schools in Manitoba where he shares his story, “Music Healed Me”. What impacted me though was his other narrative on how he felt when his best friend from high school recently died in March 2021. Music for Connor became the salve that helped him to grieve this loss in a positive and healthy manner. This personal experience led him to compose the song “Gone Too Soon”. In turn, Connor’s story inspired me to write the following poem as a testament to the healing powers of music on the mental and emotional angst that one experiences when someone special dies. When I shared my poem with my fellow poets/classmates in my Poetry Circle, they too were touched by it.

A CURE: Music
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  • Writer's pictureKamara Hennessey

“A true Master is not the one with the most students, but one who creates the most Masters. A true leader is not the one with the most followers, but one who creates the most leaders.”

- Neal Donald Walsch, Conversation With God: An Uncommon Dialogue

A book in my library that I often pull out for reference on a particular subject is Jim Clemmer’s Growing the distance; Timeless principles for personal, career, and family success. Clemmer includes the above quote in his chapter Lead to Succeed. This quote resonates and reflects my own intent as a Music Educator to be a positive influence on others as I help them learn and grown within and outside of themselves.

Unlike many individuals, I have not created a defining identifiable branded type of Leadership Program that can be evaluated as the one direction path to follow to become successful. I think of my abilities to pass on to others a music education is like choosing to be ecumenical in one’s beliefs despite having been brought up to practice and stick with a particular organized religious point of view. Therefore, I prefer to explore all avenues where I can extract a teaching and life’s philosophy that express ethics, values and styles that highlight several strands of coloured threads within an embroidered tapestry that show unity within diversity.

The shelves in my music library display a range of practical and theoretical pedagogical texts by various authors / composers; past and present. But, over the years in my private music studio I have become more discerning to which teaching materials and programs have earned their rightful places to harness contents that will eventually result in successes that prove to be meaningful and fulfilling to me and my students. This apparent awareness was excavated from having taken as many opportunities to attend seminars / conventions / conferences / workshops / webinars / global summits where one encountered the experts in their respective designed out field / disciplined program. I have often mused to myself on why do I need to reinvent the wheel in developing something “new”? Even though an existing wheel has taken a different / innovative musical-theoretical path to traverse, when pursued it ultimately allows one - whether it was for me or my student (regardless of age, abilities / disabilities) - to reach the same destination; that is, one of a growth mindset that allows for expansion …

I have registered to become a member in many music and non-music organizations as this profile gifted me with many privileges. Over the years, I was approached to be on these organization’s executive committee where, with dedication and commitment, fulfilled the required responsibilities in different roles. Even though I am, to a greater extent, a follower / team player in these platforms, in many a serendipitous moment, whether it was through necessity or by design, I found myself trusted into an unexpected leadership role such as being voted in as President in a two to four year period to lead a team.

A project that I initiated was to form an exclusive small group with my saxophone colleagues within the larger Burlington Concert Band ensemble. I pursued this in order to tap into an inner drive to be more creative and somewhat inventive in the process. Not one for settling for an obvious / unimaginative name like “The Flute Ensemble” (the only wind ensemble in this band that have become so well-known / recognizable over the years for concert engagements outside of BCB), I doodled around to come up with some catchy names. I finally settled for Sax ’n Sync; one that I though would sound quite appealing. This moniker I trusted would express a collective agreement that when I and my colleague worked together as “one” in every aspect, we will deliver a concert performance program and a memorable stage presence in its synchronicity; over time develop a uniqueness that separates us from all others. I would often remark to my colleagues we need to look and sound exceptional so we don’t leave the audience criticizing us as the “sinking saxes”.

When I look back on how this ensemble got started back in 2010, it was formed out of a need in support of other organizations that I am a member of. Through Sax ’n Sync’s engagement to participate in fundraising efforts for these organizations, we have helped to draw a greater interest from the public. My assertive stance in advocating for and promoting the need to align with these respective organizations’ mission statements that revolve around their particular program offerings was done with the intention to ignite the philanthropic spirit of “paying it forward”.

In the Ontario Registered Music Teachers Association, Hamilton/Halton branch Teachers Concert to raise funds for the Scholarship Account, my sax ensemble added variety to the program when we jazzed up the evening with swings and blues. As the piano accompanist and assistant Choir Director of the Hamilton-Halton Chinese Choir (2004-2010), as well as being on that organization’s Executive Committee, I had the opportunity to help plan concert programs in their annual fundraisers for the choir. In its Autumn Showcase 11 event held in November 2010, the newly formed Sax ‘n Sync group was part of the entertainment. Each member in the ensemble was encouraged to invite their families and friends for the opportunity to integrate with and experience the authentic music and culture of my Chinese colleagues and friends.

One of my biggest achievements was nudging the Burlington Concert Band Board of Directors to agree on a partnership with Bereaved Families of Ontario, South Central Region. In 2019 the band presented a free community concert in BFOSC’s annual signature fundraising event Walk in Remembrance and Butterfly Release. My goal: to draw a large public gathering. As we provided the entertainment relevant to the occasion, I knew that for attending families and individuals who were there to reflect on and celebrate the life of loved ones who have died, the music performed during the butterfly release, in particular, would be therapeutically uplifting; therefore, help in each one’s healing journey. The band was to appear again in September 2020. Unfortunately, Covid-19 pandemic halted everything thus preventing BCB to make another collaborative appearance.

I look forward to the day when my small Sax ’n Sync wind ensemble regroups again in person to continue to be engaged in community activities. Each time my saxophone colleagues and I make a public appearance this leaves us very happy and fulfilled knowing that we have lifted someone’s spirit through the music we share.

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  • Writer's pictureKamara Hennessey

One of the advantages of being an 'Elite' Educator in the private Ultimate Music Theory Facebook page/s (exclusive to music educators) is the opportunity to connect and share information on topics that are relevant, and subsequently get valuable feedback from posted comments.

As a member with the designated UMT certification (U.M.T.C), and also in the UMTEE program, these have allowed me life long access to teaching and coaching call videos that I can review as a refresher. In the replay of one such coaching call video (the final live one recorded in 2020) facilitated by our mentor/guide, Glory St. Germain, she shared some lessons and quotes from author, John C. Maxwell. In my home library, I have Maxwell's books that I often re-read pertinent chapters written in his Failing Forward; Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones For Success: Developing the Leader Within You: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership (Revised & Updated; 10th Anniversary Edition): The Winning Attitude.

In that CC video, St. Germain explored the Topic: "Help Others Reach Their Potential" where she outlined 7 Keys to help cultivate attitude of contribution. Numbers 6 and 7 resonated with me the most. #6:- Focus on Self Development, Not Self Fulfillment. What separates these two? It's the motive! I also learned what defines these two as one pursues ... Self Fulfillment is doing what I enjoy the most. But this "activity" can only serve me well as it depends on the mood I am in any given day. On the other hand, Self Development states what I am talented and uniquely fit to do, and what becomes my responsibility; i.e. educating others, serving my family (by using words that uplift and encourage, not giving advice, not judging...). To that I will also add being attuned to one's community by giving generously of one's time and resources - whether it is little or a lot ... - to where there is an appeal to serve in areas of greatest need, instead of being on the receiving end of it. Regardless my mood, circumstance, what others say or do, developing oneself is done through the directive of investing and becoming engaged in the ideology of continually and abundantly sowing the seeds. Most of all in that process it requires one to be patience, and the rich reward of a harvest blossoms. To keep giving while waiting for the bounty apparently is the "law of the Universe". One of the wisdom that came from my mom in her nurturing ... was the belief that we must not always keep the cup full and overflowing in the hoarding; it must be emptied from time to time in order for it to have room to fill in more / be replenished with something bigger / better.

#6: Keep Growing to Keep Giving. Complacency, or the belief that one has grown enough in terms of acquired skills and knowledge, therefore no need to keep on learning, results in losing that innovative spirit. Whenever, I am asked "who are you / what do you do" my reply has always been "I am a work in progress". I keep realizing the more I learn, the less I know. Therefore, as appropriate to my interests, I will not hesitate to invest the time and money to attend Conferences, Conventions, Workshops, etc. I see it as an opportunity to network and "pick" the "expert's" brain in order to 'sponge' on their innovative and creative spirit. Many years ago, I was quite surprise by a colleague who remarked that she did not need to attend another workshop that was being offered at an ORMTA Convention. She had heard the clinician present on that topic, and in her opinion that individual did not have anything new to say to her. For me, however, even though I had attended that same workshop in previous years, I still felt that I would learn something new again, as I may have missed picking up on some vital information, or the clinician may present the topic from a different perspective, bringing more clarity for the "ah ha" I get it ...

From another standpoint I see self-development as being self-fulfillment as well when one can see the benefits in the long term growth. It is analogous to the planning out of a Financial Portfolio where there is a diverse mix of assets and liabilities that helps preserve some sense of balance in the "bull" and "bear" market, and the staying powers that can occur through the fluctuations.

The concluding statement "instead of playing to win, the individual starts playing not to lose" that was made by St. Germain's in reference to not growing ... aptly defined an overtly expressed boxed in mentality that exposes the "scarcity mindset" that prevails. With that in mind, I quote some pertinent lines from the poem THE DASH by Linda Ellis (copyright 1996). It certainly reflects what one aspires to achieve that bring purpose and meaning in an active life that would have declared as being one of expansion or contraction in the beliefs that one held and acted upon.

"I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend

He referred to the dates on her tombstone from the beginning ... to the end

But he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years

For that dash represents all the time that she spent alive on earth.


For it matters not, how much we own, the cars .... the house...the cash

What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.


Remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.

So when your eulogy is being read, with your life's actions to rehash ...

Would you be proud of the things they say about how you spent YOUR dash?"

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