Recreational Piano Classes: The Healing and Rehabilitative Power of Making Music (Part 3)

The best rehab techniques and/or tools can be limited by one’s desire to improve or belief that one can improve.  RMM positively enhances your body, mind and spirit by, not only, activating healing and preventive care processes in your body, but also by setting up the stage to make rehabilitative care even more effective and successful.  RMM programs are being set up around the nation for this purpose.  Participants of an RMM study at Wesbury United Methodist Retirement Community in Meadville, PA reported that RMM produced far more favorable effects when compared with antidepressants or mood-stabilizing drugs.  Another study found that RMM led to improved quality of life for inner-city youth in a court-referred treatment program.

Recreational Music Making programs are being developed around the nation and The Rio Grande Valley is no exception.  Musical Living Academy offers Recreational Piano Classes for Adults that have the desire to learn to play the piano while enjoying all these non-musical benefits in their lives. Come experience this fun and relaxing way to learn to play!

FREE ADULT PIANO DEMO CLASS

TUESDAY, JULY 22nd 2014

7 – 8pm

Confirm your attendance by submitting form below! Or call (956) 221-3145

 *3 adults have confirmed and have only 5 seats left

Recreational Piano Classes: The Healing and Rehabilitative Power of Making Music (Part 2)

“Recreational Music Making refers to any form of music making that is not based on mastery of performance. Recreational Music Making encompasses enjoyable, accessible and fulfilling group music-based activities that unite people of all ages regardless of their challenges, backgrounds, ethnicity, ability or prior experience. RMM ultimately affords unparalleled creative expression that unites our bodies, minds and spirits.” Karl Bruhn, Father of the Music Making and Wellness movement.

The word “Recreational” gets it’s meaning from the latin word recreatio which means to refresh or restore, recovery from illness, to refresh by physical influence. Recreational Music Making (RMM) programs are group music programs that emphasize quality of life and non-musical outcomes rather than competition or heightened performance. The class setting of an RMM program creates a social support dynamic that also contributes to the enhancement of one’s quality of life. RMM programs are a powerful catalyst for quality of life improvements that lead to better health and rehabilitation.

How can RMM lead to better health and rehabilitation?

Recreational Piano Classes: The Healing and Rehabilitative Power of Making Music

Did you know that we now have medical research giving us conclusive evidence that adults who participate in Recreational Music Making programs experience extraordinary lifestyle benefits? Studies show that recreational music making strengthens the immune system, improves mood states, reduces burnout, and reduces stress on the genomic level (to name a few). Music has always possessed healing and therapeutic qualities. There are ancient accounts that serve as testimony of how music had a healing effect, for example, the biblical account found in 1 Samuel 16:14-23. The story tells us that Saul, King of Israel, was tormented by an evil spirit and would be relieved of this torment when David played the lyre before him. The idea that music is related to healing was even present in Greek mythology; Apollo was both the god of music and medicine.

So what exactly is Recreational Music Making?

Following Directions Isn’t Enough!

We are trained from a very early age, “Just follow directions!” “Just do as you’re told and everything will be fine.” Seems simple enough, black and white even; I don’t know about you, but sometimes I have a deep craving for a black and white, two-plus-two-is-four solution to my complicated life. And so, with this simple “truth,” I embarked on a very important quest: putting together a bookshelf…

No DISTRACTIONS! Full Speed Ahead!!


I had been needing a new bookshelf for my office for quite some time now because I’d outgrown it, but with the middle shelf breaking, I could not put it off any longer. My wife and I headed to Target and found the perfect one. I decided I would work on it non-stop until it was done because I wanted to have it ready by Monday. I also decided that I would NOT take a RISK; I was going to FOLLOW DIRECTIONS given to me in the assembly manual that came with. (Mind you, it wasn’t my first choice, but Target does not have an in-store crew to assemble furniture…) With a fiercely determined attitude, I plowed my way from Step 1 through Step 15 in only…3 and a half hours 😦 I checked and double checked each step, and after much work, I victoriously stood my masterpiece upright to admire the fruits of my labor…

Tah-Dah!!! Not quite


It smelled like a bookshelf! It stood like a bookshelf! It looked like a bookshelf…except I had placed the shelves in backwards (with the veneer facing back). And, to top it off, I had already SCREWED IN the back (meaning I had drilled holes in to the veneer part of the shelf). I didn’t say a word…I laid down on the floor and literally wanted to cry because I was so frustrated! It was 11:30pm, and the only way to fix my mistake was to take the ENTIRE shelf apart again; it was simply too late, and I was too tired. I thought things over and over and over. I had double, no, TRIPLE checked the directions, and I was certain of that!

WHY didn’t I just…


Here was a very unique situation for me because I had single-handedly messed up. I felt like blaming somebody, not me, but I didn’t have anyone else to blame! So, like every self-righteous individual tends to do, I found the culprit and I decided to blame the directions. Yes, dumb I know, but it was only for a couple of seconds. I think God, being so loving, interrupted my self-righteousness so I could learn something, and brought the realization that I could have easily:

  • taken a break, with the probability that I would have noticed something was wrong (slow down!)
  • Asked my wife to come and take a look at my progress (take another’s opinion)
  • Gotten my head out of the manual and looked up (big picture, not tunnel vision)

What are we building?

In my early years of teaching piano, I remember putting so much emphasis on following directions (score): notes, counting, dynamic signs, ritardandos, plus anything else I could think of adding myself!  But, just like in life, if we bury ourselves in the fortes and ritardandos of music, we run the risk of missing the big picture, the true message, the opportunity to share the true beauty of music.  This experience also made me remember conversations that I’ve had with more experienced persons.  It’s sad to hear someone else share that they spent most of their lives intently following directions, not looking up, or listening to anybody’s opinions, and much less slowing down, only to realize they built something LIKE a bookshelf, but no the bookshelf they wanted.

Piano Lessons: Beyond Learning Music

Why do we sign up for piano lessons?  Why do you want your son/daughter to take piano lessons?  There are many benefits and/or values that are acquired through music study, and we can certainly hear about the obvious ones often enough.  I believe that one of the most important life values that piano lessons help us learn is the discipline of COMMITMENT.

Life value comes at a price

I’m sure that most of us can look back at our life and agree that the experiences that have enriched our life have not come about in the easiest of ways.  I dare say that if those same experiences did not come accompanied by some degree of temporary discomfort, then we probably wouldn’t value them as much.  It’s only because there was a battle that we know what victory is, and so you must be aware that to learn/teach commitment you will run into some sort of discomfort and sometimes even a battle.

The battle of long-term commitments

As adults, we are aware that life will present us with very important commitment-testers; a job, a friendship, and marriage are a few examples of commitments that cannot be easily disregarded due to how we feel at a particular moment in time.  However, we do understand that it is completely normal, and actually expect, to want to “quit” these commitments from time to time.  No one gets an award or trophy for a great START.  The marathon winner is praised because he FINISHED the race.

“I want to quit” is a golden opportunity

If you haven’t heard, “I don’t want to do piano anymore,” or if you yourself haven’t gone through a period of the same feeling, then let me inform you that it is only a matter of time; IT’S NORMAL and part of the “long-term commitment” package.  When that moment shows up quickly SEIZE the golden opportunity to teach the value of commitment.  Get creative and find ways to help the student battle through the inevitable moment of discouragement.  Remember, it’s only if we do not grow weary and faint that we can experience the VICTORY AFTER THE BATTLE.

I’d love to hear any experience you might have gone through in regards to this subject.  Would you take a moment and write a comment about it?


Flops, Failures, and Fortitude

by Natalie Wickham

The young teacher finished arranging the game pieces for the first planned activity of the evening just as the doorbell rang. A few minutes later, the first student was seated on the floor, eagerly anticipating the fun he would have during the group class. He was soon joined by another cheerful face, and the teacher chatted with them about their day while they waited for the rest of the students to show up. But as the minutes ticked by, it became apparent that no other students would be arriving. After hours of researching, compiling, and preparing the materials for this group class that she had planned for her studio of 23 students, the discouragement of having only two students in attendance was acute.

Have you felt such discouragement? Have you poured your time and energy into a creative project or event only to have it royally flop in the end? I raise both of my hands with you. In fact, the brief story above was inspired by my first failed attempt at holding a summer piano camp. And I know I’m not alone. Such experiences are replete in the business world. Whether a professional musician, an independent music teacher, or in any number of other music-related professions, you are a business owner. Business guru, Robert Kiyosaki, has this to say, “If you don’t fail faster, you’ll fail anyway. Look, you’re in the middle of a learning process. The process requires that you make many mistakes and learn from those mistakes.”*

Most of us are familiar with the story behind the light bulb and the thousands of experiments Edison attempted before he finally reached his goal. Here’s his optimistic take on the experience: “Results? Why, man, I have gotten lots of results! If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is often a step forward….”** It sounds inspiring enough in the world of inventions and discoveries, but considerably less so in the presence of an unenthusiastic audience, or when looking into the faces of the two out of 23 students who bothered to show up for our event. But it is this same spirit and determination that drives culture-impacting advancements and movements today. If we want to achieve long-term success, we must embrace failure as an opportunity to grow in wisdom, strengthen our character, and develop expertise in our field. I’ve experienced many such opportunities over the years and have learned five keys to success in any creative endeavor:

>>Click here to read the rest of the article Natalie Wickham recently wrote for The Savvy Musician website<<

Christmas Fun:Piano Duet-Veronica Palacios

This is why I’m going on my 12th year of teaching private piano, and I love it more every year.  This coming year, I am planning on sharing a lot more of my passion by showcasing how we have fun.  This video was an unplanned recording that we did because we were just having a lot of fun playing the duet.

We hope you enjoy and share this short Christmas duet with others…Merry Christmas!