prospectus image blog

BAST Courses 2023 Now Enrolling

We know many of you have been keen to get hold of the 2023 prospectus and we are delighted to announce that it has now launched!

In the new prospectus, you will find each of our courses available and timelines for when they will be taking place. You will also be able to explore what each course can offer you professionally and how you will be able to work after you complete your chosen course. 

What’s new for 2023? This year we have added more teaching hours and classrooms to both Distance Learning and Blended Learning pathways, making your journey of discovery with us even richer than before.

We have also merged our Sound Arts Therapy and Voice Arts Therapy Professional Diplomas together to create a brand new course called ‘Sound & Voice Arts Therapy Training’, combining both sound and voice techniques. 

The Arts for Health and Wellbeing field is a rapidly growing area of healthcare. The BAST Method of sound and voice-arts therapy course features a range of different group activities such as soundscapes, vocal games, drum circles, sonic and vocal improvisation, performance and so much more. If you see yourself working in a dynamic and creative way with sound and voice as a therapeutic art-form, we recommend this course.

If you have any questions then please email us and we will be happy to help. We hope you will choose to join us and look forward to welcoming you to BAST.

prospectus image blog

Student Review on Group Voice Arts Therapy Course

Written by Helene Butter –

Find Helene on social media at: Eleneh Flowering Light

I completed the Group Voice Arts Therapy Course in the summer of 2022 after about a year and a half of deep learning and discovering. I had wanted to do a course with the British Academy of Sound Therapy for several years but had found it difficult to choose which one, their courses all looked so good! As I believe is the case for many people who choose the sound as medicine path, I became drawn to this world after a strong experience of how powerful using my voice can be when giving birth and vocalising helped with the pain. The experience made me reconsider my relationship to singing, I started to see it as a healing tool and a way to connect to something bigger than I. I then realised I had always done this, especially as a child, inventing songs, playing with sounds, and this is why I ended up choosing the Voice Arts Course rather than the holistic one as in my experience, the creative process has been something that literally saved me at times, having suffered from bad depression in the past. 

Yes this course is great for people who really believe creativity is therapy, because it goes into the therapeutic benefits of vocal improvisation. Improvisation is not just for jazz musicians, it is for everyone and doing this course made me realise that improvisation is life, it is a natural way of connecting to self and others. As one of my group participants said, ‘I never knew I could be so creative’, this was the feedback time and time again. Doing the groups felt like I was giving people permission to explore, to free themselves, to play, to open up to new ways of listening. We looked at the effect that different voicescapes have on mood, how they can bring you into the present moment, how you can have fun with sound and let your imagination run wild. Creating something new as a group is a very powerful tool for communication beyond the limitations of language, race and so on. Actively making sonic art together is a deep process on many levels and it brings up what needs to be seen and worked with, so as to move beyond self imposed limitations. 

I did the course online and can safely say it prepared me well for doing the case studies. I really enjoyed the online classrooms and found myself just drinking in everything Lyz Cooper was teaching and sharing, she is very inspiring as is the rest of the BAST team. I really enjoyed the prep work you do at home, there were so many interesting self reflective exercises and experiential activities, after a few months I started to feel like I was living what the course was teaching, I started to notice the unitive field of sound as well as the ebb and flow within it, very cool! The course also really helped me get over my tendency to overthink things, which can really block you and overcoming this also helped me help others when doing the groups. 

Now that I have qualified I feel proud to have studied at BAST and feel a bit like a pioneer like the team.  I want to bring Group Voice Arts therapy into places where there is a need for new tools to help people connect and open to a more expansive idea of who they are, using their voices creatively makes everything lighter and more joyful!

Helene using a loop pedal for assisting with voicescapes

Student Review on Practitioner Level Diploma in Sound Therapy Course

Written by Joanna Bates

My PLD journey began at the worst time imaginable – maybe…

Within days of committing to the Practitioner Level Diploma Course in Sound Therapy for 2020 (monetarily and psychologically) along with a good many other students in several countries around the globe – the world seemed to stop in its tracks.

February 2020 was exactly the time when COVID-19 was deemed by most governments to be a global pandemic and a ‘potential’ threat to human life on a worrying scale – but by now, your view on this will depend upon your own experience of it so far; your perspective may well be different from how it started out in early 2020.

These are some of the difficulties we faced:

  • A global pandemic causing great uncertainty and fear among millions – a sense of panic for everyone was clearly felt in the early days
  • No work or income for most of us
  • The possibility of illness/death – I am over 60 years old and a cancer survivor – which put me in a ‘vulnerable’ category
  • Restricted travel – BAST was forced to reschedule Intensive Modules several times
  • Only 2/5 of the ‘hands on’ work that is usually done in Chichester was available to us; many felt very unprepared when it came time to do our case studies – including me!
  • Some students’ struggled with loss and illness
  • Motivation, due to the protracted length of the course was difficult 

I lost my Mum in December 2019 and was using what she bequeathed to me for something purposeful – to become a sound therapist practitioner.

I think that it is precisely because of the COVID adversity that PLD20 course year developed a particularly potent group spirit; we set up several supportive WhatsApp groups – not always sweetness and light but for the vast majority of time, a real help and useful network for questions, guidance, shared revision notes and at times, emotional support.

I can say, with hand on heart, that this BAST journey has been of immense value – not only to my clients, but to myself and those around me.

There will be adventure and there will be surprises!

Apart from the incredible fact that two of my case studies believe that their lives have actually been “transformed” in some positive way, I also found that I could treat and dissipate my own pain – with my voice alone. This was a complete shock to me; the voice was the instrument that I (mistakenly) perceived to be the weakest and I didn’t believe that it would be as powerful as either my monochord or Himalayan Singing Bowls. How wrong I was: Intermittently, I have a very painful nodule on my foot which the doctor cannot help with – so, I decided to toning using a low pitched ‘ER’ sound.  Although I felt a bit silly at first, after 3 minutes, I felt a tingling in that area and after 6 minutes, the pain was completely gone! I was amazed – and I have self-treated this way many times since and it works every time.

The reflective practice we use (called the 7Rs) has also helped me: during our only ‘Intensive’ down in Chichester which was only for 2 days in June 2021, I found that this process brought up a ‘truth’ for me which elicited an emotional release of tears; it was quite shocking and I needed to spend time reflecting on this so that I could hold a safe space for my case studies. I had to postpone my case studies until November and used that time to really delve into my Resistance about the truth that had been uncovered. The fact that I had taken time to know myself better, I believe, has made me a better practitioner.

My challenging but incredibly rewarding journey is just about over as I have now submitted my work for assessment. 

In summary, it has not been easy for me to complete this course in some ways and that is probably true for most students; there have been struggles – but I would do it all again. A good, meaningful business is possible and the much – needed, caring service that we provide is more necessary now than ever before.

I wish you all luck with your BAST course – it’s a roller-coaster adventure with dips and curves, screams and laughter but if you STICK AT IT it will enrich your life in more ways than you can possibly imagine.

Joanna Bates – May 2022

Alzheimer’s Awareness Month – BAST Alumni Gary’s journey with a client

September is Alzheimer’s Awareness month and aims to raise awareness and challenge the stigma surrounding the disease. Lots of research has been undertaken about how sound and music can help to relieve behavioural and emotional symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease.

British neurologist Oliver Sacks states that music is processed more widely in the brain than any other activity that we do. This could be one of the many reasons why people who suffer from Alzheimer’s often remember music from their youth or have the ability to retrain the ability to play an instrument they had previously learned.

We reached out to our BAST Alumni and asked if they would share any experiences they have had with Alzheimer’s patients. One of our BAST Alumni, Gary Posner, has kindly shared his story with one of his sound therapy clients who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.

“I began working with Ted on May 26th 2021, just over 3 months ago. We have weekly 60 – 90 minute sessions.  

Six years ago, Ted was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and just over one year ago he stopped talking. He had become almost completely non-verbal. He also stopped making eye contact when you were speaking with him.  

I decided that a BAST Method Sound Bath (Sound Bath with relaxation protocol – Himalayan bowls to gongs to crystal bowls to therapeutic percussion to silence) should be the first treatment – non-invasive, soothing. I did think/hope that the gongs would stir things up. 

To my surprise, Ted stayed awake for the full 50 minute Sound Bath. I could see his eyes following me playing the instruments. To me this meant he was actively listening. By the way he reacted to each new donging of the bowls, rolling waves of the gongs, singing tones of the Crystal bowls, and sounds of the percussion, it felt like Ted was interested and engaged. And that his hearing was intact. An important fact, as hearing loss/impairment seems to be associated with Alzheimer’s. Researchers don’t seem to be sure which comes first; struggles with the disease or hearing loss. 

While our bodies are always listening, we are not always actively listening.  I thought maybe this is the first step in Ted healing. I wondered, “could he become an active listener.” Can people challenged with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease become active listeners? And if so, would that mean they have relearned an older behavior? And if so, maybe other behaviors could be restored? According to the Website “Skillsyouneed,” active listening can be defined as:

“…fully concentrating on what is being said rather than just passively ‘hearing’ the message of the speaker. Active listening involves listening with all senses…” Getting Ted to actively listen was going to be my first goal for him, in our work together. 

Ted watched me pack up my stuff; another good sign. His wife said that he seemed happier and calmer. He was smiling. I asked him if he enjoyed the Sound Bath and he answered with a “gibberish kind of vocalization.” Another good sign, he seemed to be trying to communicate. Of course, we couldn’t know for sure, but I felt the Sound Bath was a new beginning for him. Things were going to open up.

I decided to do some research into what Sound Therapists and Music Therapists had recently tried with Alzheimer’s sufferers. When I came upon the “Personal Playlist,” I thought that was perfect. It is a technique I tried with my mother who struggled with Alzheimer’s Disease 17 years ago. Trying to find musical ways to help her was what started me on my journey into Sound Therapy.

A Person Playlist is a collection of songs that evoke some kind of emotional or physical reaction. You can create it on Spotify, Apple Music or simply download MP3’s. You could use YouTube, but I think all the adverts would be distracting.  

I researched all the top 100 hits, in all genres, for the formative years of Ted’s life – between 10 – 25 years old. I then opened Spotify on my iPad and put a set of headphones on him, his wife and I had a set of headphones as well, and then we listened.  And listened.  

Each time Ted showed any reaction we put the songs into “Ted’s Favs.” By the end of our session we had about 30 songs that Ted “seemed” to really enjoy. I told his wife that each day she could play about 1 hour of the playlist to Ted and take notes on which songs he seemed to really react to. I told her that in each of my sessions with him, we would refine the playlist and, hopefully, find 30 mins worth of music that he always had some reaction to.  

His first reactions to the music were many – he laughed, he made a face of “puzzlement” that has continued, he vocalized, and sometimes he tried to sing. If he didn’t have one of these reactions, the songs were moved off the list.  If he had a “super big” reaction the songs were given a heart. We were on our way. This was working. Things were moving and changing in Ted.  

After a few weeks of trying different Sound Therapy Methods/Instruments, I settled on what was going to be our weekly treatment. I decided to incorporate the new research being done at MIT with Alzheimer’s and Gamma Waves. Specifically using a 40 HZ tone. In experiments with mice, the researchers found that playing a 40 Hz tone for the mice significantly reduced the brain plaques associated with Alzheimer’s. I thought lets try it.

Sessions – 

We start our sessions with 20 minutes of listening to the 40 Hz tone ( as a binaural tone) through headphones.  

We then move to 25 Minutes of tuning fork therapy – 5 minutes of the Otto 128 weighted tuning fork placed on different acupressure points. 

Then 20 minutes of a Nervous System Balancing protocol using Solar Harmonic Spectrum Tuning Forks. This is a protocol I learned in my studies Dr. John Beaulieu, a pioneer in the world of Sound Therapy. This protocol uses the intervals of the 5th. I use a C – 256 HZ tuning fork and a G – 384 Hz tuning fork. I tap them and place one near each of Ted’s ears. When the vibration stops, I retap them and alternate their positions. So each ear is hearing the C, then the G, then the C and so on. Ted really enjoys the sound of this. In fact, so much so that when I asked him if he liked the sound of the tuning forks ( I try to ask several different “yes or no” questions during the sessions, to see if I might get a quick response), he gave me an emphatic, “YES!”

Then Ted and I do some drum work together. I utilize a 16’ Remo Bahia Bass buffalo drum and a regular 16’ Remo frame drum. When I initially started using the drums, Ted would just sit there and watch. Now he grabs a stick and tries to copy what I do. I base the sessions on the “Rhythm of Life” protocols from the British Academy of Sound Therapy. Ted always laughs and is “verbal” during the drum section of the treatment. This past week I showed him how I hold the drum from behind with the ropes and he made an effort to copy me. This was very encouraging. The drum work usually lasts 10-15 minutes depending on Ted’s interest. He especially likes when I play the bass drum over his head. These drums have really strong vibrations. Playing the drum over his head is like giving him a head massage. 

The final part of each session is going through Ted’s “Playlist,” with him. I have created several different playlists on Spotify of songs Ted has “reacted’ to. We try to keep only songs he strongly reacts to in his “Ted’s Fav” playlist.

Some observations from the sessions so far:

Ted answers 2-3 questions during the sessions “correctly.”

For example:

“Ted how are you feeling?” (a pause) 

“Pretty Good.”

“Ted, do you like that song?”

“Sometimes.”

“Ted, do you like the way that feels?”

“Yes.”

“Does that sound make you feel calm?”

“Yes.”

After the drum session –

“Did you like that?”

“Sure!”

While I know this may not seem like much progress, this person was completely non responsive, 3 months prior.  

In the last session he asked me a question.

Ted to Me

“How are you doin?”

Me to Ted

“Fantastic.”

And it was. 

Ted now vocalizes through the whole session. He laughs. 

He tries to talk and sing. It really feels like each week we are moving forward; sometimes big jumps and sometimes baby steps. So far there have been no (knock on wood) backward steps. I will keep you posted.”

It is so great to hear how our past students have gone on to help Alzheimer’s patients through sound therapy. If you have previously trained with BAST and have an experience to share, please email us – [email protected] .

Word scape for music and sound therapy

A Sense of Place, Sound and the Self – The Eternal Sonorous Feedback Loop

A sense of place means so many different things to each of us, but most commonly it is a term used to describe the relationship we have to where we live and to those that live with us and around us. In this article I’d like to take this a step further by using our sense of place to extend our self-awareness as well as discuss how to use sound to connect more deeply with the world around us – to use sound to re-connect in a disconnected world.

The relationship that we have with our environment creates an eternal feedback loop that informs us about who we are. One person may love the buzz of an cityscape whereas another may prefer the buzz of bees in a meadow of wild-flowers. Whatever your preference you can enjoy the relationship that you have with your environment and yourself through sound.

How do you do this?

Our ancestors have been sounding and voicing in the landscape for thousands of years. Whether they were calling to each other across a distance to inform other hunters that the buffalo were on the plain, drumming warning messages or worshipping with a Himalayan singing bowl in a forest temple, we have been united through sound. Sound and the voice were not just used to communicate with each other but also with nature, the earth, the cosmos and the spirit realms.

When I travel I always take an instrument with me. I’ve taken crystal bowls into Stonehenge and up to the artic circle and my voice to the desert. I’ve drummed under the Northern Lights and gonged in forests and chapels. Every time I connected in this way I learned more about nature, the landscape and others. It opened my heart and mind and through the eternal feedback loop, I discovered more about myself. Did I feel safe here? If not, why not? How did I relate to my surroundings and myself in my surroundings? The practice of sounding in the places I visit (as well as regularly at home) create a deeper ongoing relationship, a greater sense of place and belonging and connection. This ancient practice helps us to stay healthy and remember what is important.

Lyz in Lapland

In a time of displacement, isolation and disconnection we can lose our sense of place but there is always time for connection. During the summer break here are a few things you can do to enhance your sense of place.

Spend some time sitting in different places. Listen to the soundscape around you. Notice how much biophony there is (biophony is the sound of birds, insects, any living animal). Take your attention to the geophony (this is the sound of trees, wind, ocean, rain etc). If you are in a more urban setting perhaps there is anthrophony (sounds created by people such as traffic, machinery, human voices). Close your eyes and stretch your awareness as far as you can first and then open your eyes.

Take an instrument out into the landscape. Spend a couple of minutes breathing into your belly first with your eyes closed and listen to what’s around you. Now open your eyes and look at the landscape and take everything in, paying particular interest to anything that you would most like to connect with. Begin to play your instrument and do your best get out of your own way (if your mind comes in and tells you that you could play this instrument better for example) just allow yourself the luxury of putting these thoughts aside and just enjoy the sound. Notice if the sound changes as you allow the landscape in. Notice if you change in any way as you allow the sound and the landscape in. It could be that you begin to breathe differently, you become more relaxed, or you have a deep sense of belonging. Notice if any resistance comes up, so if you begin to feel frightened for no apparent reason or you feel grief, for example. Just keep breathing and notice what you’re feeling, where you’re feeling it in the body and if it has any kind of deeper meaning for you. Take a breath and visualise the sound going to the place where the resistance is being experienced and allow it to be released on the exhale.

Take a photo of yourself in the landscape and share it with us – let us know how you felt. We’d love to hear all about your sonic adventures!

Lyz in Stonehenge

The Crossing Places – an Exploration of Transitions

The borders between land and water, mountain and sky and forest and plain have long been considered to hold special meaning and have been honoured with offerings, shrines and temples for millennia.  As we emerge from lock-down we find ourselves at another significant crossing place and many of us are feeling anxious as we move into this new phase. 

In this post we will understand more about why transitions make some of us feel anxious.  We will also discover how to use sound, music and mindfulness to transition through the crossing places of our lives in flow and with grace and ease. 

Imagine you are walking barefoot on a sandy beach.  As you approach the place where the water meets the sand your toes begin to sink into the sand.  With each ebb and flow of the water your toes sink deeper – you, the water and the sand are merged.  Now imagine that you are walking across a field on a bright sunny day and see a dense forest ahead.  As you approach the forest how do you feel?  How do you feel as you walk under the canopy of the first branches?  How about as the sunlight starts to create shadow and the temperature drops?  As you walk deeper and deeper, what are you feeling physically and emotionally?  What are you thinking?

These crossing places change our state of being – the darkness may be exciting or scary, the sea could be cleansing or suffocating. Our ancient ancestors feared and revered these crossing places because they could literally mean life or death as well as survival.  The sea may provide food or drown us, and the forest may be home to predator or prey. As well as the potential threat to our lives, we feel a physical, mental and emotional change as we go from light to darkness, warm to cool, earth to water.  The changes in our outer landscape create changes within as our heartrate, blood pressure and neurochemistry respond.  

For millennia, humans have been drawn to change their state of consciousness as a way to communicate with the spirits of the water and the forest as well as the guardians of the underworld and paradise.  Sound and music have played a big part in helping to induce these changes in state – think of sound as being a vehicle to help you travel to different states of being.  

Research conducted at The British Academy of Sound Therapy (BAST) has shown that there are many positive benefits to health and wellbeing when we go into an Altered State of Consciousness (ASC).  These benefits include reduced stress and pain, improved mood state, (you can read more about this here).

BAST also conducted a large-scale piece of research for the music streaming platform Deezer to explore the benefits to listening to different types of music outside of our usual musical range.  It was found that listening to different music helps us to become more resilient and adaptable to change, reduces anxiety and helps us to be open to new experiences.  When we are open to new experiences, we also become more social and want to engage with others.  

Top Tips for Finding Flow in Difficult Times

  1. Spend at least 10 minutes listening to music outside of your usual genre.  Find as many parts of the music that you like as you can. It may be that you can’t stand jazz but love the way the saxophone sounds for example. Follow the sax as it weaves throughout the piece.  If your ears are then taken to the drums, immerse yourself in this instrument.  Then try to listen to just the sax and drums and see how they interact.  Every now and again zoom out and listen to the whole piece – has your opinion changed?  This exercise is not about trying to like music that you previously didn’t like, it is about opening yourself to new sonic potential.
  2. Listen to a sound-bath that contains more than one instrument. A BAST method sound bath is specifically designed to induce an ASC. Listen closely to the crossing places between instruments (when the Himalayan singing bowls give way to the gong and the gong to crystal bowls for example). Notice how you feel at these crossing places. Stretch your ears immerse yourself in the sound. It may be that you begin to see colours washing gently behind your closed eyes. This is one of the first signs that you may be your brain is relaxing into an ASC.
  3. Find somewhere lovely to sit in nature. Stretch your ears and listen to the sounds around you. Listen to the birds, the wind in the trees, the water rippling by. Take in every part of wherever you are with your eyes closed and ears open. Now bring your attention to your inner landscape, to your heart beating, your blood rushing through your veins and your breath moving in and out. Take a breath and imagine the crossing place between your skin and the air in your outer and inner landscape merging. You and the landscape are becoming one, flowing together, giving and receiving. Notice how you feel when you experience this.

Any time you feel anxious remember that it is perfectly normal part of being human to feel these changes deeply within – it’s in our ancestral DNA.  When you need support to navigate a crossing place I invite you to re-connect and remember using music, sound therapy and the sounds of nature to smooth your path ahead.

boost immune system

Boost Your Immune System By Singing – Insight Timer Course

After our very successful sleep and anxiety courses in 2020, we are truly delighted to bring to you our brand new course on Insight Timer, How singing can boost your immune system. 

With the Covid-19 pandemic taking its toll on many of us over the past year, it’s more important than ever right now to keep our immune system at its best. Not only should we keep up with our 5 a day, we should ensure our immune system is given the very best chance at looking after us when it needs to. So, if you’re wondering how singing can boost your immune system, this is the course for you. 

This is a five-day course which explores the use of the voice to boost your immune system in different ways. Together, we will explore the latest research to show how your voice can reduce adrenaline and cortisol, therefore reducing stress which has such a negative effect on the immune system. We will also look at how to use the voice to boost dopamine and immunoglobulin A to help us fight off disease. 

Within the course you will be taken back to the dawn of humankind to discover how neural pathways in the human brain evolved that enabled both the voice and music to become such a powerful healing tool. We will discover how to choose everyday songs for healing and will build an immune system boosting song list. 

We will explore vowels, consonants and mantra, along with soothing drones that will accompany our voices as we work together. Fun and dynamic warm-up exercises help you to develop your voice further and different techniques aim to inspire you to sing on your own or with a group for the heaven of it!

If that wasn’t enough, we will nurture our spiritual health and our creativity and explore the use of Tone Poems – nonsensical songs that transcend boundaries and connect us on deeper levels.

Interested in learning how to use your voice to boost your immune system? Start your 5 day course on Insight Timer today. 

sound and movement therapy

Of Sound, Mind and Body: Exploring the mind, body connection for deep healing with sound.

As a holistic therapist I always consider the mind, body and emotions when I’m working with a client. A lot of healing (or ‘wholing as I prefer to call it) can be done through reflective practice and releasing resistant thoughts but over the last 35 years or so of clinical practice, I have seen many people get to a point where a passive approach is not enough.  

We know that stress, trauma, anxiety and depression can result in a range of different health conditions including insomnia, heart problems, anxiety, panic attacks, the inability to control our emotions, depression, muscle tension and chronic pain. Trauma and stress can also lead to mind/body disconnect – A loss of connection to the physical level. We know that we live ‘in’ our bodies, but how many of us practice full body awareness on a regular basis, especially at the moment when there is so much demand on our time and we are so distracted by just getting by. 

How many times have you noticed physical tension and felt that it was “stuck”, but you were not sure how to release it? 

Following a year of navigating the Coronavirus pandemic and supporting our students through this, we felt that this was the perfect time to launch this course. The rise in interest in yoga, mindfulness, Qigong and sound therapy also informed us that there was a need for a course of this kind. At The British Academy of Sound Therapy we are really excited to be offering the brand new Professional Diploma in Group Sound and Movement Therapy!

What is the BAST Method of Sound and Movement Therapy? 

This approach allows people to dialogue deeply with themselves through breath and body awareness, mindfulness and reflective practice. Sound therapy instruments and techniques allow people to go deeper and support physical, emotional and mental release. During a typical session the facilitator begins with a short visualisation to begin the session. Whilst laying on a yoga mat, participants are invited to reflect on any connections between symptoms they are experiencing and/or something that’s holding them back in their life. The facilitator will then begin to play a drum, gently supporting group members with rhythm. No-one is expected to move in any particular way, movement is spontaneous and intuitive so there are no special movements that one needs to do. 

Following the drum and movement journey which is similar to trance dance (an approach that has been used for thousands of years to help people to enter an altered state or meditative state), the facilitator will gently begin to play the gong, leading the group into a different ‘sonic room’. Although physically everyone stays in the same room, the gong has a different effect on mind, body and emotions so it feels like entering into a different space. Certain playing techniques are then used to enable people to go deeper, and it is then that tensions may release, cortisol and adrenaline may reduce, then dopamine and oxytocin may increase. This process has a potentially beneficial effect on the immune system as well as overall health and wellbeing.

Following the gong therapy part of the session, the group then moves into the ‘crystal room’ where gentle enveloping tones of the crystal bowls allow a deep softening to take place, gently melting away tension and anxiety and allowing insights and inspirations to arise. This part of the session can be profoundly and deeply relaxing whilst also having the potential to be personally revealing. The session ends with everyone laying back down on their yoga mat and relaxing whilst being taken through a final visualisation exercise. 

The therapeutic benefits of Sound and Movement Therapy are far reaching and are much needed at this time as we gently and cautiously emerge from the coronavirus pandemic. 

If you are moved to join us on this course we are still enrolling for this course, so if you’re interested do get in touch. 

solar system (1)

Happy Solstice

Today is the winter solstice – the shortest day. Roughly translated solstice means ‘sun standing still’. It is a time when the sun appears to pause before reversing the direction of its seasonal path across the sky. 

The winter solstice is the perfect time for reflection, it is the darkest time before the days start to lengthen – a time to pause, go within and find stillness. Finding stillness has been a challenge for many of us this year with so much chaos, loss and change pulling our intended path through life off course. 

This winter solstice is very special as it marks the beginning of a historical event that hasn’t been witnessed since the 17th century. This celestial event is thought to be the ‘star of Bethlehem’ that appeared to the wise men in the Story of the Nativity. Following sunset on the shortest day, look for Jupiter, it will be bright in the sky. Then look for Saturn. It won’t be far away – it is a bit dimmer but will become more visible as the sky darkens.  

Later on today they will look like one brightly shining star that will be approximately one fifth of the size of the Moon. 

Here are a couple of pieces of music to reflect this time. The first piece is called ‘Breathe’, which is the track behind the balanced breathing course on Insight Timer. Breathe helps people to find stillness and reflects the standing still time of the solstice. Another track that came to mind when thinking about the celestial event is ‘IO’. Being named after one of Jupiter’s moons I thought it was appropriate, but also because the track features pairs of tuning forks being moved rapidly. This creates a beating effect which I felt reflected the two planets moving together and the relationship of the gravitational fields as they become closer than they have in hundreds of years. IO helps with mental clarity and refreshment.

 

solar-system

Sleep Soundly in 5 Days for Insight Timer

We are delighted to present a new course developed for Insight Timer - Sleep Soundly In 5 Days.

Insomnia is a growing problem that many associate with. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), ‘insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic linked to motor vehicle crashes, industrial disasters, and medical or other occupational errors’. There are also links between insufficient or poor sleep and an increase in depression, obesity, and cardiovascular disease as well as a whole host of other health issues, not to mention the impact on quality of life, relationships and work.

After the success of our first course for Insight Timer, Overcoming Anxiety Using Sound, we were delighted to be asked to create this course to tackle the pressing issue of insomnia for their users.

This course aims to help you improve the quality and duration of your sleep in five days. Sound therapy and Consciously Designed Music (CDM) pieces composed by our Lyz Cooper support you as you go through the course. Tips backed by the latest sleep research and over 25 years experience in sound therapy and music medicine help you put together your very own sleep ritual. Questions at the end of each day help you reflect more deeply on any barriers you may have to sleeping soundly.

We'd love for you to give it a try and hear your feedback. Stop counting those sheep and get some better rest!


Find Out More
Image

What’s New At BAST for 2021

Introducing the 2021 prospectus, a new course and our big announcement…online courses!

Those of you on our mailing list will already have received our 2021 prospectus and we’re excited to be sharing it to the public!

New Distance Learning Courses

The COVID-19 pandemic presented us with a massive learning curve this year – how could we continue to deliver high quality training with integrity at a distance? We rose to the challenge and delivered our classes online and face to face. We were so impressed with what we were able to deliver and the depth of learning our students achieved that we’ve changed the format of our courses next year.
For 2021, we have introduced a distance learning option for all our courses. This is great for students overseas, unable to travel or who feel safer at home.

Our virtual classroom sessions enable us to deliver more research, giving students more information about how and why therapeutic sound can be so effective. Videos and online tutorials enable you to practice in your own time with support from the tutor team which has now grown in size.

All of our courses whether online, or those that have a face-to-face module include more contact hours and a greater level of training than ever before.

Find out more about distance learning

Sound & Movement Therapy Course

We are delighted to be adding this dynamic course to our portfolio in 2021!

A Sound and Movement Therapist uses Gong, Drum and Crystal bowls to hold a space where people can explore themselves through gentle spontaneous and intuitive movement. Specific playing sequences allow participants to deepen their relationship with themselves and in doing so, gain greater understanding, facilitate release and flow on mental, emotional and physical levels.

Sound and Movement Therapy is perfect for grounding, centering and attaining a deeper understanding of ‘self’ and your relationship to the ‘other’ in your life.

Find out more about our new course

Strength in difficult times

Whilst 2020 has been challenging, we are so grateful to our students, staff and all our supporters for being so patient whilst we have navigated the tricky landscape. Many of our articles and research this year has been on immune system, wellbeing and general mental health, we hope that you’ve found these beneficial.

We hope you will choose to join us in 2021 and look forward to welcoming you to BAST.

Request A Prospectus

Share this Post

Overcoming Anxiety Using Sound Programme on Insight Timer

Our research over the last 25 years has showed that our music and sound therapy techniques really help people with wide range of stress related conditions including chronic pain, insomnia and anxiety. With this in mind, we were thrilled when the world’s number one meditation app, Insight Timer approached Lyz recently to create a programme for their users which aimed to help people overcome anxiety using our techniques.

Lyz set to work, creating a bespoke online course that combines sound, reflection, visualisation and Consciously Designed Music (CDM) not only to help with anxiety but also related conditions such as improving mood state, getting a better night’s sleep, staying in the moment and encouraging deep relaxation. The course takes the listener on a 10 day journey of discovery with Lyz looking at how and why sound and music can be so effective at helping to improve health and wellbeing. There are some answers to ‘how and why’ sound is so effective by exploring how the brain has evolved since our early ancestors walked the earth. In addition to specifically designed sound and music pieces there are other exercises including visualisation, breathwork and self-reflection to deepen and enhance the experience. There is information on the nervous system such as how to recognise when the ‘fight, flight or freeze mode has been triggered’ and easy and quick ways to return to balance and calm are shared. The whole course is held together with the powerful self-reflective method known as the 5Rs – a technique used by all BAST Method facilitators and therapists. The 5Rs is a useful tool for helping us to navigate challenging situations and transform negative thoughts and experiences into positive ones.

As a taster to the course Lyz has provided a free 5-minute balanced breathing exercise to restore calm which is available on their website. The course only launched three days ago and this exercise has already become a staff favourite! Balanced breathing guides you through the value of both the inhale and the exhale, bringing you back to yourself and away from anxiety. This is a great exercise for centering yourself and restoring calm which can be used before any deeper meditation, sound therapy, sound bath, yoga class or to help you drop into a deep and restorative sleep. More advanced techniques are taught in the full “Overcoming Anxiety Using Sound” Course.

It has been a pleasure to work with Insight Timer to bring our sound relaxation exercises to the public.

british academy of sound therapy logo

Reflection on 20 years of teaching Sound Therapists

The British Academy of Sound Therapy is celebrating it’s 20th birthday this year, we aren’t sure where the time has gone! We were hoping to celebrate with a sonic boom, however Covid-19 has put a rain-check on any celebrations for now. Over the past 20 years, our teaching methods, research and position in the holistic industry has grown enormously, and as a result we are now teaching more Sound and Voice therapists than we could ever have hoped for back in 2000.

On our latest course, we were blessed to have Lianne, one of our very first students and previous tutors join us to reignite her passion for sound and continue her professional development. We asked Lianne after her training to compare what we were like in 2000 to today.

Lianne’s Story

Twenty years ago, I saw an advert on the local village notice board advertising a “Practitioner Level Sound Therapy Diploma” with The British Academy of Sound Therapy (BAST).  This was the very first professional Sound Therapy Course in the UK.  At that time the format was a weekend module every month for 10 months followed by a case study period.  This programme marked the beginning of my sound journey. The training was very experiential although note taking was encouraged and handouts and supporting information was given. At that time the framework was Vedic – taking the chakras, nadis and energy flow of the body into consideration.  

Following the course, I became a tutor for BAST and immersed myself in their programme. However in 2010, I had to step back from BAST due to ill health. 

In 2019 I decided to return and contacted Lyz to discuss continual professional development training. Lyz explained that there were now 7 courses to choose from (when I left in 2010 there were two!) and outlined how the courses had evolved over the last decade.  She explained that there is now significant research supporting the profound effects a sound induced Altered State of Consciousness can have on health and wellbeing. 

The latest BAST method centres around the ways mind, body and emotions respond to sound and music. Modern science now explains this is due to the way sound is processed in the brain. The BAST method combines this with a reflective process known as the 5Rs, a framework which enables us to examine how we react to sound. The 5RS allows us to take ownership of our experiences to improve our health and wellbeing. Students are guided to not only encourage reflection and responsibility in their clients, but also within themselves to become compassionate witnesses to their own journey. 

While I was excited to get back practising, I felt like I needed a factory reset as so many upgrades had been done! 

Along with the model, the style of teaching has evolved too, with bespoke learning pathways created from student choices, including the recently added Sound/Voice Arts courses (I’d honestly love to do them all!). 

Rather than monthly teaching, the curriculum has been condensed to short intensives, once or twice a year. This makes it much easier to commit to a course and the immersion in the process made learning much easier.  Along with classroom-based teaching, the online Learning Zone (LZ) offers additional resources such as videos, reflective process exercises, assignments, and access to relevant scientific research papers. This made learning so much easier than it had been in 2000 and allowed overseas students to effectively participate.

Playing techniques however, are mostly the same with some amendments based on the research. A constant throughout the years is the acknowledgment of the beauty of the instruments and their differing effects on the body on all levels.  As in 2000, there is great focus on immersing oneself with your instruments and really understanding their therapeutic benefits.

The past 20 years have seen BAST evolve significantly, allowing many doors to open to the benefits of Sound Therapy. BAST’s work has gone to a new level, providing a toolkit of Sound based therapies accessible to mainstream education, the NHS, work in the community and for individual treatments. BAST’s updated portfolio of cutting-edge research on Sound Induced ASC and reflective processes, using instruments with exquisite qualities, combine together to create a pioneering model of Sound Therapy.

Happy 20th Birthday BAST!

Foreo sweden

Face The Music – Singing For Younger Looking Skin With FOREO

We were asked by technology experts at FOREO to understand whether singing can be good for your skin and if so, how?

We’ve known about the benefits of singing for health and wellbeing for decades – this is something we teach our students during our Voice Therapy courses. FOREO asked us to conduct a research project to investigate whether the chemicals released during singing could also benefit our skin.

Our research showed that singing along to your favourite tracks is not only the perfect mood booster, but it could also help improve your skin, in fact just five minutes of singing a day could slow the aging process and give your skin a health glow – here’s why:

Singing boosts Dopamine – the “feel good” factor

Singing increases our Dopamine levels which in turn elevates our mood. Every time we experience chills or goose-bumps when listening to our favourite track we are giving ourselves a shot of this ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitter.

Singing for a natural face lift

Research showed that 30 days of singing each day resulted in an improvement in facial muscle tone and helped to counterbalance aging effects. Singing also helps increase blood flow to the skin. 

Singing to make your skin look younger

Increased levels of stress hormones such as Cortisol affect the quality of collagen in your skin, reducing elasticity and increasing the appearance of fine lines and the skin’s ability to ‘bounce back’. There have been numerous studies that show that singing reduces Cortisol.

Singing to reduce acne

As well as affecting collagen, high levels of the stress hormones Cortisol and Adrenaline have been linked to acne. Singing significantly reduces both of these hormones.

It is important that you sing for a certain length of time for optimum effect. To help improve mood-state choose songs that give you goose-bumps and aim to sing for at least 5 minutes. If you are feeling particularly down, then choose a few of your favourite tracks that add up to around 14 minutes to get the maximum sonic vitamin boost! If you are stressed aim to sing for 20 minutes and better still, form a Zoom Karaoke group with your friends. Group singing for fun reduces Cortisol even more effectively.

The singalong playlist by Foreo & The British Academy of Sound Therapy

Three of the most important ingredients in music that may help improve the skin are lyrics (to boost mood, increase Dopamine, reduce stress), driving rhythm (to boost mood and increase oxygen flow) and sustained breathing (to reduce stress). The following playlist of top 10 songs were chosen with these criteria in mind and can be found below.

Feedback from FOREO

FOREO UK recently teamed up with the British Academy of Sound Therapy to investigate the ways in which singing for just 5 minutes each day could improve your skin. The British Academy were a true delight to work with. The research and insights they compiled not only exceeded our expectations but also guided our approach to be as seamless as possible – it was also delivered ahead of deadline! They truly are experts in their field. We would highly recommend and refer anyone looking for unparalleled expertise around sound therapy to the British Academy, without hesitation. – FOREO Team

Soundscape Art by Jessi Lee Ross

Our Sonic Sound Art Challenge

Due to the COVID-19 situation the theoretical parts of our professional diploma courses were held in virtual classrooms.  The Professional Diploma in Group Sound Art Therapy students were asked to create a soundscape piece and were given a piece of art as inspiration (see below). The aim of the soundscape was ‘to paint what you see using sound’. 

Soundscape Art by Jessi Lee Ross
Art Credit: Jessi Lee Ross

We divided the picture into 11 areas and each student was invited to think about how they would represent their part of the picture in sound.  They had a few hours to come up with something, record it and send it to us. 

Approximately 22 minutes of sound was then mixed into a 9 minute piece by us at our studio.  Have a listen and let us know what you think – we hope you enjoy it!  This piece is going to be submitted as part of Creativity and Wellbeing week 18th-24th May and will be available on Youtube and on Facebook for you to listen, comment and send us your thoughts.

Thank you to all our students who contributed to this piece.

Himalayan bowls with some sonic art

Sonic Art and Therapeutic Soundscapes

At The British Academy of Sound Therapy (BAST), we use different kinds of soundscape for a range of different therapeutic outcomes. But what is a Soundscape and what is the therapeutic benefits of performing or interacting with one?

What is a soundscape?

There are different types of soundscape. Bernie Krauss, the grandfather of soundscape recorders, began archiving natural soundscapes from around the world in the 70’s.  Bernie has since documented thousands of soundscapes which give us an amazing sonic picture (and valuable record) of our planet. Check out his masterpiece – The Great Animal Orchestra for a great example of his work.

Bernie coined the terms ‘Biophony’, ‘Geophony’ and ‘Anthrophony’ to describe different types of soundscape in the natural world.  Biophony describes the sound of the birds, animals, insects and marine life.  Geophony is the sound of the wind, waves and trees and Anthrophony is the sound that humans make (which includes anything from theatre and music to traffic and machinery). 

The type of soundscapes we mostly work with at BAST is generated by humans but we also take our soundscapes into the landscape to dialogue with nature. Take a look a piece we did in 2010 at Stonehenge

A range of different instruments can be used – from gongs and crystal bowls to the smallest chime.  As long as it is safe, appropriate for the group we’re working with and accessible to anyone regardless of their musical ability, it can be included in our ‘sonic colour palette’.  Each type of instrument falls into a different group, or ‘sonic colour’.  How the instrument is played (struck, rung, beaten or strummed), how it sounds (the timbre, or sound signature) all have a bearing on how it affects mind, body and emotions. We use the properties of the different instruments to apply them in specific ways for specific conditions as well as to paint pictures. 

Synaesthesia

For example, if you hear the sound of a gong rumbling most people use words like ‘dark, deep, earth-like, foreboding, mysterious and exciting’ to describe how they feel when they hear the sound.  If you hear a chime you may use sounds like ‘light, bright’ sparkly, fairy-like’.  We are used to using colour, texture, shape and feeling to describe sound, making these instruments perfect to express the human condition.

The soundscapes we usually facilitate fall into two categories.  Those with an intended therapeutic outcome or framework and those without.

Therapeutic Soundscapes

An example of how a soundscape may be applied in the BAST Method is if a group were working with grief for example, we may use this shared experience to help people to process this.  A sound-arts therapist may ask the group to select an instrument that reflects how each person feels about their loss.  The group may then be asked to think about the good memories they have about the person they’ve lost and will invite the group to put a piece together which moves from the grief to the good memories.  The group will then be encouraged to think about ways that they can take these positive feelings and thoughts through into their daily lives.  This process can help people to communicate how they feel through the instrument rather than needing to talk about it and therefore can be really useful instead of or in conjunction with talking therapies.

Cognitive Flexibility

Improvisation is a higher-level processing skill, it helps our minds stay young and flexible, to build resilience so that we are not disappointed or even floored when we are faced with the unexpected.  Improvisation also helps us to find how we ‘fit in’ and to build confidence to find our place in the soundscape.  In doing so people can also be invited to reflect on how they fit in society.  If we can create a lovely soundscape together, is there any reason why we can’t create a lovely society?  As the instruments are so accessible, anyone and everyone can play a part in creating something wonderful together. 

As well as processing grief, helping with cognitive and emotional flexibility and enhancing community, soundscapes create connections, add meaning, lower anxiety, improve mood state, can help with pain and tension, enhance relaxation and can boost the immune system. Therapeutic soundscapes are the perfect ‘sonic prescription’ to treat the symptoms of lockdown.

For the heaven of it!

As well as for therapeutic purposes, soundscapes and sonic art can be for the heaven of creating a wonderful piece together. 

A group may select a piece of art, a poem, life experience or story and be invited to put this together in a soundscape.

Soundscapes are transformative, expressive, great for communicating when words cannot express how we feel, they are therapeutic and fun. As well as this they enhance our connection with each other and the planet we share.

What’s not to love about soundscaping?! Our advice is to get out there and express yourself in sound and music.

Get soundscaping – we’d love to hear the results! For details of how you can become a sound-arts or voice-arts therapist, or for more information on soundscapes, please contact us.

5 top tips for using sound and music to thrive during lockdown

Feeling anxious, on edge or low is common right now. Coronavirus lockdown isn’t easy and everyone is coping differently. It’s an unprecedented time and keeping safe and well has never been so important. Uplifting your mood state can boost your immune system so we have got some tips to keep you cheerful and relaxed during this outbreak

1) Listen to the tracks of your life – create a playlist that reminds you of the best times in your life. Play it back whenever you feel down. You could even swap playlists with a loved one or family member as a challenge or gift, then talk through your joyful times together.

2) Listen to sounds and do sound exercises which are in a low pitch. Low pitches help us to relax. If you are feeling anxious, try a voice exercise in a low pitch such as singing “ahh” in a low pitch for a few minutes.

3) How to improve your mood – Sounds simple, but music with happy lyrics really helps to lift your mood. Even if you don’t feel like it, smile when you’re listening and make a ‘ha ha ha’ sound. Pretend smiling and laughing stimulates your emotional centre and helps lift mood.

4) Open your mind – During lockdown we can feel small, powerless and claustrophobic because our freedom is limited. Singing sirens can help improve mental flexibility. Start on a low pitch ‘eee’ sound and in one breath gently slide up to a high pitch, going higher as your voice warms up. Repeat as much as you want, sliding up and as you do, stretch your awareness as far as you can.

5) Use the rhythm of life – Many people are finding their sleep patterns are all over the place without a proper routine in place. If you can’t sleep, tap a ‘lub dub’ heart beat rhythm on your thigh or chest. Count to four before tapping again and continue for a few minutes. You could also try listening to one of our sleep tracks, Somnus X is available for free on Spotify or a small fee elsewhere.

The most important thing you can do right now, is remember that you are not alone. We might not all be in the exact same boat but we can still all be here for one another. Share your own tips amongst one another or write them in for us to share. Keep in touch, stay safe and keep well.

Coronavirus

Coronavirus Advice for Sound Therapists

This advice is for social distancing measures and is not appropriate during lockdown.

Everyone is talking about Coronavirus and it’s important to take caution if you are running group sound bath events. Here is our advice to our students, alumni and other sound therapists who might be running these sessions.

  • It is recommended that people do not lay down or sit closer than 2 metres apart
  • Handshakes, hugging and close conversation is not recommended
  • Always check contraindications beforehand – anyone with a respiratory infection, travelling from a high risk country or in a vulnerable group (underlying condition heart/lungs or elderly) are not to attend
  • Use antibacterial wipes to wipe down any shared mats, surfaces (including door handles), instruments before and after the session
  • Wear a mask – although this offers minimal protection
  • Wash hands in hot soapy water for 20 seconds minimum immediately after the session and/or handling the consent forms
  • Avoid touching face, mouth and eyes
  • Avoid close conversation with clients
  • We recommend that people do not stay for refreshments or gather in close proximity before or after the session.
  • Air the room before and after (you may need to get there earlier to make sure the room is not too cold for when people arrive)
  • Do not hold the soundbath in a place where there are vulnerable groups present such as the elderly or sick
  • Bring plenty of tissues with you to give to people that are coughing or sneezing in the session. If they leave them behind pick the tissue up in another tissue and bin in. Then wash your hands or use hand sanitiser
  • Ideally ask people to bring their own mats and blankets with them

For further advice on keeping yourself and your clients protected, see the latest government advice.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/guidance-for-employers-and-businesses-on-covid-19

Share this Post

Music as Medicine – The Musical Recommended Daily Allowance

When was the last time you listened to music? Today, yesterday, right now? Most people hear or actively listen to music every day and as humans we tend to change our playlists based on our mood. Music psychologists have proven time and time again, that music can have an effect on our health. So with that in mind, wouldn’t it be great if we could prescribe music to help with certain mood states?

During our latest research project, commissioned by Deezer, we set out to find out whether there was a common dosage for music and how long one needed to listen for a therapeutic effect to be experienced. We discovered a recommended daily allowance of music for various mood states, how this affected people and what types of music were commonly used to achieve this.

Overall, we found that 89% of people thought that music was essential for their health and/or wellbeing.

It came as a surprise to us that such a high % of people used music in this way and that this may account for the rapid growth of relaxation music in general and apps like Calm and Headspace. We’ve known for a long time that sounds affect our health but it was fantastic to confirm that the general public recognise and use this knowledge in their daily lives.

We tested 7581 people and found that of our test group:

  • 90.15% used music to relax
  • 81.80% to make them happy
  • 46.5% to process and/or release sadness
  • 32.53% to aid concentration

We had some amazing results within this.

Music For Relaxation

The best music for relaxation had a slow tempo, simple melody and no lyrics. The optimum time for listening was 13 minutes.

Our test subjects reported positive benefits including decreased muscle tension, negative thoughts disappearing, feeling peaceful and contented and being able to sleep better. So next time you’re feeling stressed, give yourself a time out, all you need is 13 minutes!

  • 79% had reduced muscle tension
  • 84% has less negative thoughts
  • 82% had a better nights sleep
  • 82% felt restful & contented

Music For Happiness

We discovered that you only need 9 minutes of music to feed the soul and make you feel uplifted. The type of music which worked best had a driving rhythm, fast tempo and happy lyrical content.

Our test subjects reported that they became happier, had more energy and felt satisfied with life, it gave them control & most laughed more. This had a knock on effect of them being more positive towards others.

  • 89% had improved energy levels
  • 65% laughed more and/or felt happier
  • 82% felt able to take on anything
  • 82% felt more in control of their lives

Music for Concentration

Though less people used music for concentration overall, those who did, experienced high percentages of positive effects. After 13 minutes of music, our test subjects reported their mind became clearer, they were better able to do their job and they could more easily make decisions.

  • 81% felt their mind became clear
  • 91% felt they could do their job better
  • 89% were able to make decisions more clearly

Music to process or release sadness

For sadness, we found most people chose music with lyrics that they connect with. 13 minutes was the optimum time to process their feelings.

Listening to music for sadness caused our listeners to feel a sense of relief, be less overwhelmed, feel more stable and less likely to be triggered by things that reminded them of the issue. Releasing sadness is an important part of our wellbeing, so give yourself time to process it, put on some sad songs for 13 minutes and then get back onto the happy stuff!

  • 87% felt more emotionally stable
  • 84% felt less overwhelmed
  • 91% felt relief & release
  • 84% came out the other side of their sadness

The Take Home

It seems that 13 isn’t unlucky after all! 3 of our recommended daily allowances for music was 13 minutes showing that just small amounts of time can make a big difference to your wellbeing. So put a playlist together for your mood states and give yourself the boost you might need using music. You can also try some of Lyz’s Consciously Designed Music which is available for free on Spotify. 

You can read the full study on our research pages.

You can get a snapshot of our research in the infographic below. Please feel free to share it with your friends and family.

Using Music as Medicine – Your Musical RDA by The British Academy of Sound Therapy

Share this Post

January blues

6 ways to beat January blues with therapeutic sound & music

It’s half-way through January, the tinsel has been packed away and the bubble and sparkle of the New Year is ebbing away. As the long grey days of winter set in, what do we do to help banish those winter blues? It’s actually a lot easier than you think.

Due to the way we have evolved to respond to sound, music and sound therapy are really quick and effective at boosting your mood state. Research undertaken by us at The British Academy of Sound Therapy for Deezer asked 7591 people if they felt music played an important part in their health and wellbeing. 89% said ‘yes’ and a massive 82% of those said they used music to improve their mood. On average it took 9 minutes for people to feel the benefit of the happy music.

1) Create a happy playlist

It’s not surprising that many people choose music with great ‘happy lyrics’ – ‘Happy’ by Pharell came no.1 as the most well used happy track in our latest research.

2) Choose tracks with great ‘Happy’ lyrics

Choose tracks that have an upbeat tempo, high pitches, soaring and rising sounds. Some great feel-good tracks include:

Locked out of Heaven by Bruno Mars

Can you Feel It – The Jacksons

Can’t Stop the Feeling – Justin Timberlake

Sky Full of Stars – Coldplay

3) Consciously Designed Music

If you want a piece of Consciously Designed Music (that is, music specifically created to boost moodstate) then try ‘Solis’ by Lyz Cooper. This track is both relaxing and uplifting so if you don’t want a toe tapping tune then this is perfect.

4) The Tracks of your Life

Choose tracks and create a playlist of songs that remind you of happy times in your life.

5) The Tracks of Your Tears

When feeling down sometimes a happy tune just won’t cut it. It may be better for you to process and release the sadness. Referring again to the Deezer research, 47% of people used music to help process and release sadness by playing songs with meaningful lyrics or a sad and melancholic feeling. Allow yourself a few tracks worth of release and then get back into the happy stuff!

6) Sounds Good

Music is basically sound organised into pretty patterns which we love but sound therapy, being the roots of music, can be just as effective as boosting moodstate. Our research has shown that a soundbath or gongbath can improve moodstate significantly.

So beat those blues, plug in and put a spring in your step today!


deezer logo

New research project with music streaming service Deezer

Is music important to your health and wellbeing?

 

We are conducting research with Deezer, global music streaming service into the uses of music and what it means to you and your health & wellbeing. We’re looking for as many people are possible to fill in the survey linked below to let us know the power of music in your life.

We are setting out to discover the secret ingredients in music that help a healthy lifestyle and provide the public with recommended sonic vitamins.

We welcome you to forward our survey to your friends, family and colleagues to help us gain the biggest range of answers we can! 

Many thanks for your help with this study – we couldn’t do this without you so by way of thanks we’re inviting you to enter into a draw for one person to win £50 of Amazon Vouchers.  You will have the choice to enter your email details at the end of this questionnaire – your details will only be used to notify you if you’ve won.
 
Your answers must be received before the 30th September 2019

Take The Survey

The world

Uniting People Through Music For Peace Day

Today we are celebrating International Peace Day.

Peace One Day’s objective is to make 21st September an annual day of global unity and intercultural cooperation. Humans have been influenced by sound and music before boundaries even existed on Earth so what better way to express Peace One Day than to bring clips from all over the world together.

To support this objective, we reached out to the therapeutic sound and music community and invited people to submit a clip of sound or music that they felt expressed peace. We then mixed the submitted pieces together into one ‘Peace Mix called Project Global Sound’ to reflect the peaceful blending of societies on Earth.

Please share this as much as you can – we hope that those listening to the track will find peace within and if we all did that, think of what we could create together. We hope you enjoy the piece.

Share this Post

Project Global Sound team up with Peace One Day

And we need you.

Project Global Sound is back! Having been established in 2011 in order to promote health, wellbeing and unity across the globe through sound, the resounding success has meant we are doing it all over again. This year has seen us couple with Peace One Day to not only promote peace but also to unite people in both therapeutic sound and music. We are inviting people far and wide to send us a one-minute sound clip (as an MP3 file) along with your name, country and a photo of yourself, all of which will be mixed with other submissions into a sonic cuddle for the world! Although the music clip submitted must be an original piece it can be of anything: a vocal piece, a singing bowl, from a gong or a drum or simply a sound of nature from wherever you live – it’s time to get creative!

All submissions must be uploaded by the 30th August 2019 – it’s super simple, just use this link and follow the instructions.

We can’t wait to hear from you all and share your music globally!

Tone Poems – What are they & how can we use them for therapeutic effect?


What is a tone poem?

A tone poem is a simple song made from non-sensical language.  They need to be easy to sing and join in with and simple to share.

What is the purpose of a tone poem?

The aim is to unite people in song, dissolve barriers and open hearts and minds. Tone poems are non-sensical words because this echoes the sharing of language that would have happened as people met for the first time. One group makes their song up and shares it with the other.  It could be sung as a round, in parts or in unison – it doesn’t matter but the main thing it that it is simple and easy to share and inclusive.

How did tone poems become part of the BAST method?

The inspiration for Tone Poems came when I spent time in central Australia and found myself being part of an ancient practice of sharing culture.  A group of aboriginal women had walked from a neighbouring community to share their dances and songs with another community.  Myself and my husband were asked if we’d like to watch and so we were led into a compound behind a corrugated iron fence and sat on the floor, clapping along as the group danced.  What struck me was the way the other women watched intently and respectfully as their guests sang and danced.  The event was so moving and made me think of how our ancestors would have done exactly the same thing as they migrated across the globe sharing songs, dances, food, culture as well as trading goods, perfumes, gems and cloth.  In the past it was thought that there was a lot of fighting, bloodshed rape and pillage as groups came together but recent archeological evidence shows that these meetings were more peaceful than originally thought. I’d like to think that most of them were just like the one I experienced in Australia.

 
 

Share this Post

A journey through Sound Therapy – 1994 to now

As we approach our 20th anniversary at BAST I’ve been reflecting on how far we’ve come since I started working with sound therapy.

Lyz in 1995

I first started looking into sound therapy in 1994 when I was diagnosed with ME and found that therapeutic sound made me feel so much better. Here is a picture of me back then! After it made such a big difference in my life, I wanted to become a sound therapist however, there was nowhere to train at that time. Although people were working with sound, there were no formally recognised training schools and I wanted to be properly qualified so I could practice professionally.

I spent a few years travelling to different parts of the world to find out how people traditionally used sound for healing. I visited many countries including Lapland, Australia, North America, India, Vietnam, North Africa, Sri Lanka, China…the list goes on, it was a real adventure. Whilst travelling I began to develop research techniques based on my findings. In the early days, I spent many years asking people “how does it feel when I play this?” and taking copious notes!

Lyz in Lapland

In 1997 I approached the Institute for Complementary and Natural Medicine (ICNM) with my techniques, presented them for assessment and demonstrated a treatment (which was somewhat different from the method we teach today). Following a successful assessment, I became the first sound therapist to be registered. By 1999 I had enough research and case studies under my belt to approach the ICNM to get consent to open a recognised training school and in 2000, The British Academy was born.

Fast forward to 2019 – there are now many methods and approaches taught by all different people in the sound therapy field. There are hundreds of soundbaths and gongbaths going on all over the world every week and sound therapy is fast becoming a trendy thing to help maintain health and wellbeing. The therapeutic sound field also has its own association to support and represent the field.

It has been a huge journey for me and my proud life’s work. 20 years on, I have trained hundreds of practitioners and group facilitators worldwide, have two ‘hubs’– one in the UK and one in Australia, a thriving research department and an amazing tutor team. BAST graduates are doing so much transformative and restorative work out there. From working with people with Alzheimer’s to ‘Zen-ing’ people out in therapeutic gong-baths, BAST Method practitioners and facilitators are to be found the world over.

I am so grateful that I found sound therapy and never cease to be amazed by the power that it has to transform people’s lives, health and wellbeing. I am humbled by the power of sound every day and sincerely hope that I will be around in another 20 years to report how things have changed!

Fast-forward to 2019! Here is Lyz at one of our recent training courses.

Share this Post

What is Mental Health?


Mental health is important at every stage of your life, it includes your emotional, psychological, and social well-being and affects how you think, feel, the choices you make and your behaviour. It also has an influence on how you bounce back from difficult situations that we all face from time to time.

If you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed, you can’t sleep, it is really difficult to make decisions, you’re experiencing mood swings or are very low in energy your body and mind is telling you to slow down and take stock.

How do we improve mental health

Balance is one of the most important things and you cannot balance life without having some kind of self-awareness.  When I look back on my life in the 80’s I was under extreme pressure on all sides.  My relationship was in turmoil, I had a huge mortgage due to the property crash and was holding up 2 part-time jobs as well as my main career.  If I’d known more about mental and emotional health then I may have been able to nip everything in the bud.  But then perhaps I wouldn’t have found my life-calling.

Millions of people worldwide benefit from managing their health and wellbeing with alternative approaches, many of which are thousands of years old, Sound Therapy included. As soon as you feel ‘off balance’ then do something. Don’t waste time, do something as soon as possible without delay. When you are depressed or anxious the temptation is to go into your shell, but before this happens just make small changes each day.

More About Using Sound To Help Mental Health

Share this Post

Lyz cooper british academy of sound therapy next to a gong

How can sound and music help mental health?


These days it is widely accepted that ‘wellbeing’ is just as important as ‘health’, but what does it mean to be mentally ‘well’, how do we know when something isn’t right and what can we do about it? Lyz Cooper, founder of The British Academy of Sound Therapy (BAST) talks about her experience and shares her research on how to use sound and music to not only improve health and wellbeing, but to help prevent illness in the first place.

‘I speak from experience’, said Lyz over a latte and a room full of Himalayan singing bowls and gongs when I caught up with her at a recent course. ‘In the early 90’s I was diagnosed with chronic anxiety disorder and clinical depression.  I literally couldn’t go out of the house and really struggled to hold life together – in fact there were times when I felt completely overwhelmed and terrified without really knowing why.’

‘One day I was in the bath and started toning (a technique where you sing a prolonged tone – a bit like an ‘OM’, but it can be any vowel sound). After a few minutes I felt so much better.  I tried this again any time I felt anxious and it definitely made a big difference.  It was such a profound affect that I had to find out more’.  Fast-forward to today and Lyz is one of the thought-leaders in the therapeutic sound field and is at the forefront of research and development into finding out how and why sound and music can be so effective.

Tips on how to use sound to improve mental health

First of all breathe

Make sure your exhale is longer than your inhale, this will help to switch off your sympathetic ‘fight or flight’ nervous system and switch on the parasympathetic ‘rest/digest’ nervous system. Bring your breath to your belly. Often we breathe from the upper chest when we are stressed. Be aware of when your breathing changes as this can be a sign before you’ve even realised you are stressed.

Use A Relaxation Playlist

Having a playlist ready for those stressful times, or even just to maintain your calm can be a huge help. Lyz writes Consciously Designed Music which is available for free on Spotify or to buy on iTunes for a small fee. She has even put together a playlist for deep relaxation.

Sleep Well

Getting plenty of sleep is good not just for physical health, but mental health too. The recommended amount is at least 8 hours. Some of Lyz’s tracks are written to help you get off to the land of nod quicker and she has put together a sleep playlist.

Attend a Soundbath

Sound therapy sessions induce Altered States of Consciousness which improve health and wellbeing. Research undertaken by Lyz Cooper shows the health benefits of altering consciousness with therapeutic sound and you can read more about this on our research pages. If you don’t have time to attend a physical session, try listening into a Soundbath track at home.

If you’d like more information on how to stay well with sound therapy and music join our mailing list.

Share this Post

Voice therapy exercise group

What is voice arts therapy?


There is an increasing amount of research that shows the benefits of arts-based activities on health and wellbeing. With social prescribing being a hot topic within the NHS there has never been a better time to work within the arts in health field.

At BAST we have been working with sound and voice as a therapeutic art-form within our Group Sound and Group Voice courses for 10 years but in 2019 we launched two dedicated Arts for Health and Wellbeing courses – The Professional Diploma in Group Sound Arts Therapy and The Professional Diploma in Group Voice Arts Therapy. Both courses are at the cutting edge of the arts for health and wellbeing field.

Although the techniques are simple, the thousands of case studies we have done over the years have shown that voice exercises can have a profound positive effect on health and wellbeing.

Our voice is the essence of us – it is the instrument through which we convey emotion, express ourselves and connect with others. A Voice Arts Therapist helps facilitate the exploration of the self through arts-based voice activities. Some of the activities could be used for general enjoyment and others to enable communication, creativity, and expression. The Voice Arts can be used to prevent isolation, enhance community, improve mental health, elevate mood state, share something beautiful, build relationships, increase relaxation, exercise the mind – the list is endless!

During this course we will be building a tool-kit of interventions that can be used more or less deeply, depending on your intention for the group you are working with. As well as using the voice we will also use a reflective framework to be able to contain and explore our experience in a safe, effective and positive way.

Find Out More About Voice Arts

Share this Post

sleeping woman

Music to improve your sleep by up to 45%


Back in November, Lyz wrote SOMNUS X is a 10 minute piece of Consciously Designed Music specifically designed to help induce sleep. We asked our friends, followers and members of the public to take part in a sleep study to test the track and monitor their quality of sleep.

Sleep affects almost every aspect of our lives including our general health, wellbeing, work and relationships. With this in mind, the group were asked to complete 2 studies, One before listening and one after. The group were asked to listen to SOMNUS X for as many nights as possible over a 7 day period.

Our results were great, with 45% of people feeling they were now getting a better nights sleep. The full results are below in our infographic.

There are two versions of the track Somnus – SOMNUS X (10 minutes) and SOMNUS V (5 minutes).  You can listen in for yourself for free on Spotify or you can buy Somnus V on iTunes for 0.79p. Please share it with your friends, family, colleagues…anybody wanting some extra shut eye!

Share this Post

a man playing the gong in a sound therapy treatment

What Is The BAST Method of Sound Therapy?

The therapeutic sound field is vast – there are so many different approaches from different backgrounds. At BAST, we use the BAST Method of Sound Therapy, but what is it and how is it used?

What is the BAST method of Sound Therapy?

We have two main ways of working at BAST, passively and actively. In all of our approaches the therapist needs to have a good understanding of the ‘Cooper Sax 5Rs method of experiential processing’ (5Rs for short). This model enables you to improve your health and wellbeing by helping you to make sense of your experience at a deeper level. When we are interacting with situations, our environment and relationships we are often deeply and adversely affected by what happens – these outside influences have a very real impact on our health and wellbeing not to mention our lives and those around us.

The 5Rs is a very simple way of understanding how our outside world affects us and enables us to turn negative thoughts, feelings and emotions into positive ones. It also helps us to understand ourselves at a deeper level, enabling experiences from our past to be gently released so we can move on in a more positive way.

For example, if someone doesn’t like the sound of the gong the therapist would ask why that may be. The client may say ‘it is too powerful, I can’t escape’. The therapist may then ask, ‘is there something in your life either now or in the past where you felt something was too powerful and you couldn’t escape?’ The therapist will then help the client to move through this memory or experience using sound and self-reflective techniques similar to mindfulness.

The BAST Method of Sound therapy works in a targeted as well as a general way.

In a 1-2-1 session the therapist listens to the client’s needs and then selects specific instruments and techniques to help with certain conditions, such as drum massage to help with muscle tension or uplifting sounds played on crystal bowls for mild depression for example. The instruments we choose is based on over 25 years of research and development.

In a group we usually work in a general way with relaxation, energising or motor co-ordination. Again, the therapist selects the instruments and techniques to work towards the therapeutic outcome. For example drumming can help with motor co-ordination or learning and behaviour depending on how you drum.

There is usually some kind of ‘homework’!

Following a BAST Method session the therapist or group leader will usually give some kid of technique you can take home with you to help your health and wellbeing improve even more. This is because taking personal responsibility for our health and wellbeing is something that goes by the wayside for so many of us. A simple breathing or humming exercise may be all that’s needed to help turn your health around.

We have arts-based approaches as well as passive sound therapy approaches

The field is growing all the time. Since 2009 we have been working within The Arts for Health and Wellbeing field and have looked at sound and voice-arts programmes. These programmes can include drumming and movement for learning and behaviour, sound or voicescape performances and community music making projects.

We love research

We have been conducting research and developing our method since 1994. In 2019 we will have 10 research programmes running – 8 being conducted by our students in their communities. From performance and arts- based approaches to looking at the therapeutic benefits of Altered States of Consciousness and the effect of drum and gong on Parkinson’s disease, there so much going on!

The world needs more sound therapists

At The British Academy of Sound Therapy we train around 70 new therapists each year helping grow the field of properly qualified sound therapists in local communities across the world. The recent rise in interest for sound therapy treatments has led to an increased demand for our course places and it is thrilling to share our knowledge with new groups of students every year.

You can learn more about sound therapy during any of our courses or by reading our research on the website. If you have any questions about any of our work please do get in touch!

Request A Prospectus

A woman sleeping in bed

New Music To Help You Sleep


I’m very pleased to say that I have now created a sleep track called ‘SOMNUS’ and I’d love you to be among the first to hear it! Somnus is the Roman god of sleep so when thinking of a name for the track  it seemed appropriate.  There are two versions – SOMNUS X (10 minutes) and SOMNUS V (5 minutes).  SOMNUS V has already been released so check it out on Spotify or you can buy it on iTunes for 0.79p. Please share it with your friends, family, colleagues…anybody wanting some extra shut eye!

I’ve been wanting to create a sleep track for a while now. Since I collaborated with ‘Silence and Air’ on my previous sleep track  ‘Zero Point’, it has had over 6million streams on Spotify alone.  Thanks to everyone that took part in the research for Zero Point too – it was a really positive outcome.

I’ve been a busy bee in the studio this year and have loved almost every minute!  I say almost every minute because it can be challenging at times, especially when your creativity decides to have a duvet day on the same day you’ve booked valuable studio time!  Over the years I’ve learned to work with this ebb and flow of creative inspiration by collecting lots of interesting samples, clips and instruments that I can draw on when things aren’t flowing smoothy. I tend to store samples, clips and instruments for inspiration as and when needed.

When working on SOMNUS I needed something to insert into a part of the track where there is a breakdown – the music minimises and there is a change of atmosphere. I had a clip of rainforest sounds on the shelf, so to speak, and it just spoke to me – it seemed perfect for SOMNUS.

I am also looking for people to help with research for SOMNUS X. All you need to to is email me and I will send you a link to the track to play over a 7 night period.  You can play it every night, only once a week or as many times as you want before going to sleep.  Please email me to sign up for the project [email protected]

I hope you enjoy SOMNUS V and X and the other tracks that will be loaded on a regular basis from now on.  Please feel free to follow me on Spotify for notification when new tracks are released.

Share this Post

A history of using the voice for health and tone poems.


A blog by Lyz Cooper

It is thought that the Hominins of the Middle Pleistocence era (781,000 – 126,000 years ago) were capable of vocalisation, making the voice one of the oldest instruments in existence. Over the hundreds of thousands of years that have followed we have evolved many neural pathways, giving rise to a vastly expressive voicescape that has so much healing potential. The voice can convey emotion – we can distinguish between a cry in pain, fear or excitement for example.

When people first started migrating to other lands they would have come into contact with different people food, dance, music and language.  At first contact there would have probably been some checking out and once we’d deduced that we were not going to end up in a casserole we would have started to share culture and find ways to communicate. I have experienced a version of this ‘communication beyond words’ first-hand. 

Around 25 years ago I was in the centre of Australia not far from Uluru when a group of women arrived after walking through the dessert for days. They greeted the local group and went into a makeshift ‘room’ in the desert created by corrugated metal sheets – one of the sheets being left free to open and close. The local women sat down on the floor quietly, looking intently at the visitors in the centre of the space.  The makeshift door then closed – and opened again a few seconds later when a woman beckoned quietly for a few of us ‘white fellas’ to enter. We quickly sat down and the visiting group began a series of dances which told stories of the gathering of food and finding water.

The whole experience was very moving – I was so grateful to be invited to witness this ancient practice and years later, this experience inspired me to create the ‘Tone Poem’ process that we teach during the Group Voice Arts Therapy course.

Tone Poems are songs without words that are a way of enabling communication, sharing and cohesion between groups.  They are a wonderfully creative, therapeutic and fun process.  All you need to do is to is get a group of friends together and divide the group in 2.  Take some time to each make up a simple melody using non-sensical language – keep it simple so you can easily teach it to the other group. When ready take it in turns to share each other’s songs – it’s great fun!

Here’s one we made during one of our courses.

Application Of Tone Poems

Tone Poems can be used to enable people to have an experience in song without needing to learn anything other than a simple melody and a few words. Within a few minutes you are sharing something you have created and as you could hear, it nearly always brings gratitude and laughter (signing is great for good mental health).  When a group comes together through the same song there is a common ground – reminding us that we all have the same roots. 

Enjoy using your voice for mental, emotional and physical health and the ‘genial flow of spirits!’

If you want to know more about using the voice therapeutically and to transform the lives of others we need more voice therapists than ever before.  Please check out the following courses

Professional Diploma in Group Voice Therapy

Professional Diploma in Group Voice Arts Therapy

Practitioner Level Diploma in Holistic Voice Therapy

Request A Full Prospectus
 
 
 

Share this Post

a couple performing a voice therapy exercise to a group

Using Your Voice to Transform Your Life


“Vocal music promotes health. It accomplishes this object, directly, by the exercise which it gives the lungs and other vital organs; and, indirectly, by the cheerfulness and genial flow of spirits which it is the especial prerogative of music to bestow.”
GF Root - The Musical herald, 1884

Written in 1884, Root refers to the healing power of the voice – in this case both physically and emotionally. Fast forward almost 135 years and we now know more than ever before about the healing potential of the human voice.

Sound and voice therapy are in the midst of a boom – there is now so much interest as to how people can transform their lives with sound. Many people want to start working with therapeutic sound and what better way to start than with the voice – it is something that we use every day and one of the most powerful sound therapy instruments we have. So why is the voice is so powerful and how can you use your voice for improving health and wellbeing?

The Voice For Emotional Health & Processing

We communicate a wide range of emotions through our voices so what better way to help us to release held or stuck emotions using the voice. Studies have shown that people that swear or curse when they hurt themselves actually feel less pain, finding that ‘swearing increased pain tolerance and heart rate compared with not swearing’.

This suggests that the channelling of pain through the voice could improve pain perception and if this applies to physical pain, why not emotional pain too? I have worked with many people over the years that have experienced trauma, grief and emotional distress. I wanted to find a way to help people really explore and express this pain and so I developed the ‘Vocal Processing Techniques’ used in the Group Voice Therapy and Holistic Voice Therapy courses.

Let’s try one now…

The Voice For Physical Health

The voice massages your internal organs, exercises the lungs and oxygenates the bloodstream, invigorating and refreshing you and improving concentration. Research has shown that 20 minutes of vocalising reduces cortisol (a stress hormone) and improves wellbeing and this is just the tip of the iceberg as to what it can do. Our research has shown that physical pain can also be reduced by deep relaxation using the following technique.

Relaxation

Long, slow and low tones are going to relax you due to the way our brains have evolved to respond to sound. Spend a few minutes using long open vowel sounds such as AHH in a low pitch – something that’s comfortable for you to sing for a long period that you can sustain without needing to take a breath too often. Spend at least 5 minutes and then stop and notice how you feel.

Energising

Quick, high pitched fast tones and percussive sounds are going to energise you. Try weaving different types of nonsensical vocalisations from high pitched vowels to percussive consonants together in a ‘gibberish’ exercise for 5 minutes, then stop and feel the buzz!

Concentration

A high pitched EEE vowel is great for mental stimulation. When you feel you need a quick pick me up or are about to go into an important meeting a few minutes of this is a ‘palpitation free’ pick-me-up I call sonic caffeine!

Learn More

If you want to know more about using the voice therapeutically and to transform the lives of others we need more voice therapists than ever before.  Please check out our voice therapy courses.

Professional Diploma in Group Voice Therapy

Professional Diploma in Group Voice Arts Therapy

Practitioner Level Diploma in Holistic Voice Therapy

 

Request A Full Prospectus
 
 

Share this Post

group voice therapy exercise

Where Art and Therapy Collide – Sound and Voice Arts for Health and Wellbeing


There is a growing understanding of the positive impact that arts-based therapeutic sessions can have on health and wellbeing. There are now many different organisations championing the arts for health and wellbeing in many different ways – from organising trips to museums with exhibits that partially sighted people can touch, to knitting for good mental health – there are so many ways the arts can be used for therapeutic purposes.

By supplementing conventional medicine and care, sound, music and voice can be used to improve health and wellbeing. But what are sound and voice-arts and how does this approach differ from conventional Sound Therapy or Sound Healing?

Sound and Voice Arts

There are so many different ways you can use sound and voice arts including creating performances, recordings, sound installations, improvisational voice pieces and soundscapes. All ages can benefit and the application is so wide. The therapeutic outcomes include pain relief, communication skills building, musicality, social skills, confidence, working through difficult life experiences, higher level thinking, sequencing and processing skills and just for the heaven of it!

The approach is different from conventional sound and voice therapy in that it is not ‘passive’, it is participative with the group in the driving seat of the process, steering, guiding and shaping a session. The sound/voice arts facilitator scaffolds, mentors and supports, using their professional judgement to help move the session towards the intended outcome. This makes such sessions wonderfully dynamic, creative and fun. In a usual sound therapy session, the client lays down and receives the sound as a treatment, so it is a very different approach.

A sound/voice-arts session also can incorporate other areas of the arts such as poetry, story-telling or painting. Soundscape sessions are an example of this – a group may take a beautifully dark and moving Turner sea-scape and reflect the energy of the picture with gongs, drums and voice for example. The wonderfully moving ‘Tone Poems’ are songs with non-sensical words and are used to bridge gaps and allow barriers and constructs to fall (they are also so much fun to create!). The inspiration from the Tone Poems goes back to a time when trade-routes would have brought tribes, cultures and world-views together to share stories, songs and dances.

Taking things Forward – Training Opportunities

The British Academy of Sound Therapy (BAST) has been developing courses to meet the growing need for ‘the arts on prescription’ since we ran the first ‘Therapeutic Sound in the Community Course’ in 2010. Going forward, we will be offering 2 different Sound and Voice Arts Courses;

Group Sound Arts Therapy

Group Voice Arts Therapy

These two courses can be combined to create a Higher Level Diploma if you wish. Both of these courses include the sound and voicescapes, games, improvisation and a whole range of activities you can do with many different community groups from children to the elderly. You can get a discount on your course fees if you apply early.

You can get involved with these courses by getting in touch. We hope to see you soon!

Request A Prospectus
 
 

Share this Post

bast sound therapy training courses 2019

What’s New At BAST for 2019

 
a therapy room with flowers and towels on the bed
 

Introducing the 2019 prospectus, new arts for health and wellbeing courses, community projects and more!

Our brand new prospectus is ready and it features more courses and choices than ever before! We’ve really enjoyed putting this programme together – it has been quite the mental agility test to get everything to work, but it has been so worth it.

Due to the increasing number of people wanting to use sound and music for health and wellbeing, and the demand for evidence-based training; we now have many new ways to engage with therapeutic sound and music without needing any specialist knowledge or experience.

The Sound and Voice Arts for Health and Wellbeing

We have two new courses focused on the many ways to improve health and wellbeing using sound or the voice. In the past, our arts and therapy pathways have been joined together but over the years we have gathered so much new material. To share all our knowledge, in 2019 we will be separating our courses into 2 pathways. This is very exciting because it gives anyone specifically wanting to work with either arts or therapy a richer experience. You can also combine these together and those who do will be awarded with a Higher or Advanced Diploma.

Modular courses, higher qualifications and discounts

Our courses have been modular for a few years now, but people wanting to continue training with us will now be recognised with higher qualifications and be able to gain access to extra support, extra content and discounted fees. Therefore if you can spare the time to do more than one course in a year, you will get more value from the experience.

Community Projects

Many people know us for our research. We love research but know how hard (and expensive) it can be so we have created 8 different research projects in the community that anyone joining our courses can engage in and be part of, making it quicker, cheaper, more accessible and more fun than going it alone. Some courses automatically include this pathway and for others it is optional. You can use this experience to gain work, present your findings, raise your pay grade and widen the services you offer.

Though we have some exciting changes, all of our most popular courses are still available with updated course content. We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in 2019! Don’t forget to follow us on social media to keep up to date with course places, fun news and sound therapy top tips.

Request A Prospectus
 
 

Share this Post

Solis therapeutic music track by Lyz Cooper

Relaxation Music Track Release – Solis by Lyz Cooper

a therapy room with flowers and towels on the bed

Introducing ‘Solis’ a brand new single by Lyz Cooper.

This year I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the studio working on a brand new relaxation programme incorporating therapeutic music and sound therapy. This programme is called ‘LifeSonics Relax’ and it will be launched in the New Year. I’ve written two albums, ‘Cosmic’ and ‘Glow’ and there are another two in the pipeline. Over the next few months I’ll be releasing a couple of tracks off each album to give you a taste of what is to come, I’d love to hear what you think!

Most of the pieces I compose tend to create themselves to a large degree. I always set out to take create pieces to take people on a journey and the creation of each album becomes a journey for me too! That may sound a bit strange but as I create a piece I always have half a mind (and ear!) on where a piece is leading me. For example, the first track on ‘Glow’ started out as a grounding piece to be played at the end but then as I worked it became clear that it was going to be the very first track, starting with a fast tempo and gradually slowing down, mirroring someone coming into a ‘LifeSonics Relax’ session after a busy day at work.

I’m not a trained musician but I have a lot of experience with the effects sound can have on mind, body and emotions. Rather than sit down and write notes on a stave I usually start by creating a sonic ‘mood board’ by pulling lots of different sounds together to create an overall feeling and shape of the piece. This is the journey, so to speak. I will use certain musical intervals, instruments and tempo to affect the system in different ways.

I use a lot of naturally recorded sounds including chimes, gong and voice and nature sounds. I also use sounds that I find interesting, though they may not normally be thought as therapeutic, such as the sound of machinery, for example. I also use keyboards and electronic sounds because sometimes they are needed to shape the piece, add musicality and interest. I personally love ‘mangling’ sound in the studio and have a fabulous producer to help me stretch, mash and filter. All of these effects give you more sonic colours – it is just like an artist blending primary colours into myriad hues.

‘Solis’ (Latin for Sun) was created with the intention of giving the listener a warm sonic cuddle and invoke the feeling you get when you step outside and turn your face to the sun on a warm, golden Autumn day.

You can listen for free on Google Music or Spotify or buy the track on Itunes. I hope you enjoy it!

Share this Post

a spa therapy room with a flower and towel on the bed

Bringing Therapeutic Sound Into Your Therapy Room

a therapy room with flowers and towels on the bed

Adding A New Dimension

Do you use music in your therapy room?  If so, what is your preference – classical, new age, traditional, contemporary?  Something else?  Have you ever how and why certain tracks or sounds are better at relaxation than others?  Have you ever struggled to find the ‘right’ music for your style of treatment?

I have been working with therapeutic sound and music since 1994 and have developed different techniques based on how our brains have evolved to respond to sound and music due to the way our brains have evolved over millions of years.  Different sounds (whether they be music or nature sounds) can elicit different responses, so high pitched sudden and short sounds will stimulate the mind and body and low pitches will relax”. 

These days more research is being done to find out how we react to different instruments. For example, people will use words such as ‘warm, rich and cuddly’ to describe the sound of the Himalayan singing bowls whereas the crystal singing bowls were found to be ‘cleansing, clear and cool’.  A BAST Sound Therapist will use this ‘sound psychology’ as well as other techniques based on research to help improve health and wellbeing.

Therapeutic sound and music can be applied in your therapy room and I’d love to share my latest project ‘LifeSonics Relax’ with you.  LifeSonics Relax is a ‘music medicine’ programme that will mainly be delivered in group relaxation sessions.  Participants will be taken on a musical journey designed to improve health and wellbeing.  As well as group sessions, you can download separate tracks to use in your therapy room or at home and/or work.  This ‘Consciously Designed Music’ (CDM) draws on research in the fields of sound and music psychology, sound therapy, sound cognition and neuroscience together with creativity to create music for a therapeutic effect. Great composers such as Mozart used sounds to elicit different emotions and many great artists use music to tell a story – especially in film.  Most composers use intuition and experience to create their music and there is nothing wrong with that – a lot of great music is created in exactly this way. 

I also feel that reducing music just to a specific formula could take away its soul, which is something that I definitely don’t want to do!  I see my compositions rather baking a cake.  The cake could end up being chocolate, carrot or lemon. The basic ingredients you need will always be roughly the same (eggs, flour, butter) but you can add extra ingredients until you get the exact flavour, size and shape you want. When I set out to create a piece for relaxation or creativity – just like baking two different cakes, once I have the basic ingredients in place I will then add different ingredients (instruments, musical intervals and ‘motives’, tempo, shape and time). I also try to use as many natural sounds as possible.  A study by Ratcliffe et.al, (2013) found that ‘bird songs and calls were….the type of natural sound most commonly associated with perceived stress recovery and attention restoration.’ 

I will sit with a piece for weeks and weeks sometimes.  Listening to it and feeling the effect, tweaking one or two sounds, re-listening, re-tweaking – it can be a real ‘fine tuning’ process.  In my last piece, ‘Glow’, I knew the last track needed something and yet I just couldn’t find the sound I needed.  It took months!  One day I thought popped into my head – I need Gibbons!  I found a lovely sample of some Gibbons in the rainforest and it has brought the piece to life.

Take a look at my compositions on Spotify – you can also go on to www.lifesonics.com and in exchange for signing up you can get a sample of ‘Cosmic’ one of the LifeSonics Relax sessions. When you are next considering what music to accompany your therapy session, think about how the tracks make you feel. Stop for a moment, take in what you are hearing and feeling – let your mind go and see what happens.  If the music supports you, relaxes you and helps you feel refreshed it is perfect.  If it distracts you, the tempo is too fast or there are too many high pitches, you may want to try something else.

Share this Post

Google Home Device

Bring Sound Relaxation Into Your Home Using A Smart Home Device

A man singing at a voice therapy course

Smart devices are not only there to tell you the weather, what the traffic is doing etc they can be used to create wonderful health-boosting ‘sonic atmospheres’ at home.

Using sound therapy as a method of relaxation has helped people with a wide range of conditions including anxiety, depression, stress and pain. Anyone that has tried massaging their own tense neck and shoulders or googled to find out more about a certain condition will agree that there is no substitute for professional 1-2-1 therapy but it can sometimes be difficult to get out to a regular sound therapy session especially with our increasingly busy lives. So how can you bring sound therapy into your home?

Many people choose an accessible and cheaper smart device, such as an Amazon Echo or Google Home – choose something that you love that suits your room and needs. It is not only what your sound system looks like, but what you play that matters. Our research shows that our method of therapeutic sound can help you sleep better, feel more calm, and reduce pain and anxiety amongst other things.

Our Founder, Lyz Cooper says: “Music can have a direct psychological effect on our minds, bodies and emotions. White ambient natural sounds such as lapping waves, wind rustling through leaves and rain can also be conducive to relaxation.”

We recommend listening to specifically designed sound bathing tracks for ultimate relaxation. The award winning track “Weightless” (written a collaboration with Marconi Union) is still being voted the most relaxing track ever after many years of success. Try listening to this on your home device and see how you feel.

You can also listen to other consciously designed tracks which Lyz has written. They are available completely free of charge on Spotify, or they can be purchased on iTunes. Each track written by Lyz targets a different ailment. Solis for example is written for pure relaxation whereas Somnus V and Somnus X are written to ease you into a better nights sleep. Music can also help with concentration, for this, try IO or Echo.

Music doesn’t have to be all about relaxation however. Research shows that music can affect other senses such as taste.

For example the music you play over a meal can help to enhance the flavour of food. Lyz says: “High twinkly, sparkly sounds can help to enhance sweet flavours. Rich, warm, exotic music enhances the taste of spicy food” – its all about the synaethesic ability we have to relate sound to taste, shape and colour. You can read more about how sound enhances taste over on our previous blog.

If you are interested in learning more about using sound to improve health and wellbeing you can join us on one of our sound therapy courses or try this free online course as an introduction to our method.

Further Reading & Sources:  https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/loud-and-proud-the-speakers-making-a-statement-5qdfjkzz0

Listen on Spotify

Share this Post

A Lady singing at Voice Therapy Training

Mind, Body & The Voice – Deepening the dialogue with the self

A man singing at a voice therapy course

I have just received an email asking me how and why I developed the voice and movement techniques called ‘Vocal Processing Techniques’ used in the Holistic Voice Therapy and Transformational Voice Therapy Diploma Courses.

Having worked with these techniques for many years they have become second nature to me and I rarely take time to step back and ask myself the ‘how and why’.  As I am about to start teaching these wonderful courses again this year I thought the question was perfect timing for a blog post!

How and why do ‘Vocal Processing Techniques’ work?

In 1857 Spencer wrote “the general law is that feeling is a stimulus to muscular action” (p. 400). He was basically saying that emotions influence physiological processes, which affect the acoustic characteristics of singing. This makes complete sense – if we are scared there is tension in the throat, neck and shoulders and this has an effect on the vocal mechanism, often resulting in the voice sounding higher in pitch.

Psychologically the human voice has the ability to move us profoundly.  When we sing our bodies become a musical instrument. When we move and sing we literally add a new dimension to our voice, enabling it to become four dimensional (the three dimensions of the physical form moving in space plus the length of our vocalisation in time). In my experience this changes the relationship with our voice.  When we are vocalising when sitting still with eyes closed our relationship is an internal one, when we are moving and singing the relationship changes to a connection between the voice, body, mind, emotions, landscape and environment. There is no better or worse technique, they are just different.

The voice moves the body and the body moves the voice – together they work together to express the inner landscape and bring it into reality in the outer landscape – to ‘actualise’ it.  We can work with destructive thoughts, painful emotions or pain in the body by moving and vocalising and if we are aware of the movements and what they are telling us, this in turn can move and change the voice. The result is a living, breathing and moving voicescape of human expression, totally original and never to be repeated in exactly the same way.

The effect of using ‘Vocal Processing Techniques’

Much of my ‘style’ of sound therapy is based on using sound to induce an Altered State of Consciousness, or deep relaxed state. In this state there are many benefits to health and wellbeing which you can read about in our research.  This technique is perfectly fine for deep relaxation, pain management, tension and a host of other conditions but sometimes you need to explore a situation, problem or pain – to move through it.  I discovered the benefits of sound first hand when I became sick and had to leave my job.  My voice was the first instrument I experimented with, it was the voice that led to a ‘eureka’ moment (when a severe headache vanished after a few minutes of vocal toning) and resulted in me exploring and developing sound therapy techniques.

When I was in emotional or mental pain I found that my body wanted to rock and the voice groan or wail – it was a movement very similar to the rocking and keening that is often seen at funerals in Asia and the Middle East. The result of this experience was a Vocal Processing Technique (VPT) called ‘Vocal Evolution’ where one starts off on the ground in a foetal position vocalising in a deep, dark and groaning way and ends up standing with arms reaching upwards and the voice expressing joy, freedom and celebration.  It can take several sessions to reach the end point as one moves through and explores the issue but the end point is totally freeing!

Some of the VPTS were adapted from vocal warm up exercises, or have echoes of Rudolf Steiner’s Eurythmy movements within them.  Some emerged from the aim or intention behind them – such as stepping into ones power or having something important to say for example.   There are 22 different VPTs that Holistic Voice Therapy practitioners use – 13 of those are used in Transformational Group Voice Therapy.

We teach our voice practitioners these techniques in more detail during our yearly training courses. For more information on these courses see the links below. Please do ask us any questions you may have and we’d love to see you on our next voice therapy training course.

Written by Lyz Cooper

Sources:
Spencer, H. (1857). The origin and function of music. Fraser’s Magazine, 56, 396–408.

Earlybird discounts available for 2019 voice therapy courses. Enrol before 30th November 2018 to qualify!

Share this Post

A lady suffering from migraine

A Natural Way To Ease Migraine

As it’s migraine awareness week and as someone who experiences migraine myself, I know how debilitating they can be. Mine tend to be silent, that is, a migraine without the pain, but over the years I have developed ways to use therapeutic sound and music as a way to reduce the frequency of attacks and these days I only get full-blown attacks when I ignore my own advice.

What is migraine?
According to the Migraine Research Foundation migraine is the 6th most disabling disease in the world and 1 person in every 10 experiences migraine. That’s HUGE! It used to be considered to be vascular, that is to do with a problem with blood flow in the brain. More recently it has been found that they may be as a result of the way that nerve cells that control blood circulation in the brain fire. This means that rather than migraine being completely vascular it is a neurovascular event.

How do I know I’m having one?
Many people will experience an ‘aura’ or ‘pre-dome’ event these can range from feeling hyper active and euphoric to seeing flashing lights, being sensitive to strong smells and loud sounds. This aura can be experienced a while before the pain actually begins (and in the case of the client type there is no pain at all). Many people feel pain on one side of the head sometimes accompanied by a throbbing or pulsing sensation, feel nauseous and can vomit.

What causes migraine?
It is not known exactly what causes migraines and for many people there are a combination of unique and individual factors that contribute to them getting a full-blown one. Some of the most common triggers are hormonal, dietary, physical tension (especially in the neck and shoulders) depression, anxiety and stress.

How can I ease my migraine?
When is comes to physical tension, emotional distress and mental stress and anxiety therapeutic sound and music can be really effective. As a sound therapist I also use mindfulness and breath work exercises as they work really well with sound and music when used in specific ways.

Remember to see your doctor immediately or go to the hospital if you have a sudden and severe headache or seizure.

The tips I’ll be giving are intended to be complementary to any medication you may be taking and are specifically designed to reduce stress and muscle tension and improve mood-state, some of the factors involved in triggering migraine.

Tips for easing migraine

  1. For Neck and Shoulder Tension
    Sit comfortably with your feet on the floor. Breathe deeply into your belly.  Scan through your body and notice if there are any tense parts, how do you visualise them? I tend to see mine as a coiled spring, but some people see dark clouds or iron bars for example. Take a breath and breathe into the area of tension, visualising you breathing out the tension when you exhale but instead of just breathing make the sound ‘AHHH’  like a loud sigh. Try to make it low in pitch so you can feel it vibrating in your body. Do this for a few minutes and visualise the spring uncoiling, or the clouds becoming lighter or melting away.
  2. Headache, stress and aura
    Sit comfortably with your feet on the floor. Breathe deeply into your belly.  Scrunch your toes in your shoes or better still get out into the garden, beach or park, take off your shoes and get your tootsies into the earth! Gently scrunch them around, reminding you of where you are at this moment in time. Keep breathing into your belly and focusing on your feet.  The long and steady breathing reduces stress and concentrating on your feet brings a busy mind into the present moment and is grounding.
  3. Try a Soundbath
    The BAST method of soundbathing has been specifically designed to give the mind and body a rest. A regular soundbath can be really beneficial for reducing stress, anxiety, muscle tension, pain and therefore alleviate many stress and tension related health conditions including migraine. You can try using our own soundbath track to help with this.

Have you found this article useful? Please let me know or comment on how the exercises have helped you. Written by Lyz Cooper

 

Check Out Our Free Infographic – A Sound Therapist’s Guide To Migraine Relief
  • Migraine Sufferer Sound Therapy Method
  • Headache Migraine Tension Spots Sound Therapy Cure
  • Stress Migraine Trigger Sound Therapy

Share this Post

Music to Make Sleep Problems a Thing of the Past

music to help Sleep problems sound therapy

LACK OF SLEEP – A SERIOUS WORLDWIDE EPIDEMIC
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), ‘insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic linked to motor vehicle crashes, industrial disasters, and medical or other occupational errors’. There are also links between insufficient or poor sleep and an increase in depression, obesity, and cardiovascular disease as well as a whole host of other health issues, not to mention the impact on quality of life, relationships and work.

In 2017 the Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH) called for the introduction of a national sleep strategy and what they referred to as a “slumber number” – the ideal amount of sleep people should be aiming for each night. However, as many of us who have had 8 hours sleep a night will confirm – a night’s sleep is not always a good night’s sleep.

THE SOLUTION – INTRODUCING ZERO POINT LITE
East-London based writing and production duo Silence & Air invited Lyz Cooper to create a piece of music aimed at helping people to drift off to sleep more easily. Lyz refers to her compositions as ‘Consciously Designed Music™’. CDM™ draws on the latest research in cognitive neuroscience and music psychology as well as Lyz’s research in the sound therapy field over the last 23 years. Lyz gave Silence & Air some guidelines for the track such as the length of the piece, the kinds of sounds to be used, the key and melodic structure. ‘All of the above are factors to consider when designing a piece with a specific outcome in mind’, says Lyz. Lyz has been composing for many years but hasn’t done as much as she would like due to being busy running The British Academy of Sound Therapy.

‘It is wonderful to get back into the studio and although working alone has creative freedom, I also enjoy collaborating with other artists. Collaboration is always a compromise but you always learn something new by working with other’s as they bring their own unique style to the piece. Several versions were made before making the decision to release Zero Point Lite in time for Sleep Awareness Week’.

RESEARCH
42 people worldwide took part in an action research study to test the effectiveness of Zero Point Lite. A 27 point questionnaire was used to assess quality and duration of sleep, as well as the impact that their sleep had on their overall health and well-being before listening to the track. Some of the re-track results were as follows:

42% of participants were reported to have a sleep problem all of the time
45% have a sleep problem some of the time
42% have difficulty switching off their thoughts every night
40% wake up feeling tired every day
28% wake up feeling tension in their muscles every day
13% wake up feeling anxious or stressed every day

Each participant was asked to listen to Zero Point Lite as many times as necessary over 10 day period and complete a post-test questionnaire. The results over the short space of time were very encouraging – see below and you can click here for the full results.

Sleep study British Academy of Sound Therapy

Testimonials
Below is some of the feedback we have received from the trial.

“In April 2016 I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and spent two months waiting to find out if it had spread or not (fortunately it hadn’t) during this time my sleep suffered terribly living with the anxiety and uncertainty of a cancer diagnosis. I would struggle to get to sleep and wake in the night and then lie awake for 1,2,3, or 4 hours unable to get back to sleep. So I was keen to try Zero Point.

I’ve been using it about 5 – 6 weeks now …and I can pretty much say I’ve been asleep before the music ends…and the times I’ve woken in the night and not gone straight back to sleep I can probably count on one hand which is absolutely amazing! So the result for me is so beneficial, I wanted to say thank you! I will continue to use it, as it’s part of my sleep routine now and it’s working so amazingly well for me.” Alice

The first night I used it, I didn’t even hear the end, I slept after a few minutes. The waves are so good in it. You feel warm and comforted. Feel free to contact me

“Zero point definitely helped me to switch off and get to sleep quicker.”

“Zero Point helped me to go to sleep straight away. For the first time in weeks I only woke up once or twice in the night, huge improvement. The sound track is comforting, soothing. A sonic hug. I am very grateful for the opportunity, many thanks.”

55% of the people that took part in the study said they would definitely recommend it to others.

Click here to listen to Zero Point Lite – we’d love to hear what you think and wish you sweet dreams!

REFERENCES
https://www.rsph.org.uk/our-work/policy/championing-the-publics-health/sleep.html http://www.sleepmanagement.md/sleepdisorders/Insomnia.aspx

Share this Post

Sound to Make Your Love Taste Sweeter

Sound Love Therapy

If music be the food of love play on

William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

Tonight all over the world millions of lovers are tucking into their Valentine’s day meal, or a box of choccies that their nearest and dearest has lavished on them. Think of how much more enjoyment you could get out of this experience with the added boost of some ‘sonic seasoning?’

There is mounting evidence which shows that certain sounds can enhance the way we taste. Food scientist Charles Spence has conducted research into how different pitches and even different instruments can influence our taste-buds. (Crisinel & Spence, 2009, 2010). It was found that high pitched, bell like sounds were associated more with sweet tastes, making chocolate taste oh so much more chocolatey! Whereas umami and bitter tastes were matched to low-pitched sounds and spicy food was associated with hissing, crackling and rushing sounds.

Below is an excerpt from track 1 on the album Awakenings that I co-created with Soundscapes, an ensemble that composes and performs music specifically to affect mind, body and emotions – and now taste-buds! On this track you will hear a mixture of bells and chimes in a high pitch as well as the gentle waterfall sound of a rainstick, making it the perfect soundscape to a sweet day with a bit of spice thrown in for good measure. Play this soundscape when tucking into those Valentine’s choccies or melt in the middle pud and never be the same again.

Happy Valentine’s day!

Further Reading

https://uk.pinterest.com/Hummingbird709/music-notes/
http://www.futureoffood.ox.ac.uk/people/charles-spence
https://flavourjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/2044-7248-3-9

Share this Post

girls listening to music and dancing

When You’re Feeling Down, Get Down! Sound & Music to Boost Your Mood

sound and mood therapy headphones

“…music occupies more areas of our brain than language does – humans are a musical species” Oliver Sacks 

Sound is such a powerful vehicle for eliciting and communicating human emotion. In this post I will talk about how, as a sound therapist and therapeutic music composer, I use sound and music to boost your mood, enhance mood state and help improve health and wellbeing.

Music and Emotion

There is enormous interest in how music stimulates and evokes emotional responses. Justlin and Sloboda, prominent researchers in the field of music and emotion believe that the main reason that we listen to music is to influence our emotions.[1]

Listening to music involves so many different neural processes – many more than we give ourselves (or Mother Nature) credit for, we really are extremely clever biological machines!  For starters, the sound stimuli (what we are hearing) has to be processed by the ear which means transforming pressure waves into neural signals. These signals then stimulate the release of different neurotransmitters and hormones which can give rise to many different emotions, affect the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems (raising and lowering heart, rate, blood pressure and stress responses) and even boost the immune system.[2]

One of the most interesting emotional responses to music or sound will be one that is familiar to most of us.  Known as ‘frisson’, ‘chills’ or ‘goosebumps’, it feels like waves running up and down the arms and the hairs on your arms may stand on end.  This is a sign that Dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward is being released[3].  I talk about frisson in a lot more depth in my blog post ‘Great Expectations’ but in a nutshell, when you are feeling low choose pieces of music give you the goosebumps and you will give yourself a mood-enhancing boost.

Listen to Music to Enhance your Mood 

  • Lyrical content – choose tracks that have inspiring and uplifting lyrics
  • Tempo – choose a piece with a faster tempo – aim for 120+ beats per minute
  • Mode – pieces in a major key tend to be thought of as uplifting
  • Range, pitch and volume (dynamics) – a piece that rises and falls in pitch and volume can be incredibly uplifting and create frisson. Modern dance music is just one example of the way dynamic range is used, but you can find many different pieces out there if you’re not into dance music

Sound Therapy & Music to Boost Your Mood Playlist

Here follow 6 examples of a great ‘pick me up’ play list.

Locked out of Heaven by Bruno Mars – One of my personal favourites for increasing frisson! It is packed full of tricks to increase excitement including a rise in pitch, increase of instruments, stronger beat over the back of the chorus which continues to rise during the middle eight but drops off during the verses. At 144 BPM this is a good one to add to your ‘pick me up play list’.

Happy – Pharrell Williams – Ok so its obvious, but there is a reason that this track was so successful.  The track is 160 BPM, Pharrell sings in a high pitch, the chorus is rousing which increases frisson and it has uplifting lyrics.

Can you Feel It – The Jacksons – This track is 125BPM and has a strong driving beat and great lyrics.  The choral accompaniment and increase in instruments (horns etc) during the repetition of ‘can you feel it’ and a passionate vocal from Michael Jackson makes this the perfect track when you’re feeling low.

Can’t Stop the Feeling – Justin Timberlake  Coming in at 113BPM it is a little slower than the others, but a worthy addition to anyone’s playlist. Its got uplifting lyrics and the high pitched vocal during the choruses and extra backing vocals around 3:27 into the track add extra emotion-boosting sonic vitamins.

Save The World – Swedish House Mafia – At 127 BPM this is a track with driving lyrics that takes off around 1:08 minutes into the track.  The steeply contrast in musical content between the ’emptier’ verses and ‘fuller’ choruses make this a great track to add to the list.

Sky Full of Stars – Coldplay – This track is one of Coldplay’s EDM tracks that is guaranteed to get the head bobbing at 125BPM on the gloomiest of days – trust me, its pouring with rain outside and my head has just fallen off my shoulders!

Application

There are many different ways I use sound and music to improve mood with both groups and individual clients.  I may play a gong in a more dynamic way – moving from low volume to a higher volume which helps to create frisson, or I could play a drum more quickly than I would during a relaxation session which helps to give the system an energy boost. I can also use certain musical intervals (combinations of tones) to create different mood spaces, such as a perfect 5th which is known as the sonic anti-depressant of the music world [4].

The human voice is one of the most emotionally moving instruments because it is really good at conveying emotion. Having a voice therapy session can be extremely uplifting and may involve laying down and receiving a voice therapy treatment or getting more involved by working with the therapist and using movement and your own voice to improve your mood.

Want to learn more about sound therapy or become a professional sound therapy practitioner? Take a look at our upcoming Group voice therapy course.

To Sum Up

Music and sound has been used for tens of thousands of years to boost emotions and when we come together to make and share music we get even more of a boost.  Any time you are feeling down, plug in, get down and sound yourself smiling!

[1] Juslin, P. N. & Sloboda, J. A (2011). Handbook of Music and Emotion, Theory, Research, Applications. Oxford: Oxford University Press

[2] Huron & Margulis in Juslin & Sloboda (2011 p.598-600)

[3] Colver, M & El-Alayli, A (2015) Getting aesthetic chills from music: The connection between openness to experience and frisson

[4] Costa. M, Bitti, P, Bonfiglioli. L (2000) Psychological Connotations of Harmonic Musical Intervals Psychology of Music 28:4 pp.5 – 22

Further Reading

Bidelman. G, and Krishnan. A (2009), Neural Correlates of Consonance, Dissonance, and the Hierarchy of Music Pitch in the Human Brainstem, The Journal of Neuroscience, 29 (42): 13165 – 13171

Fritz. T, Jentschke. S, Gosselin. N, Sammler. D, Peretz. I, Turner. R, Frederici. A, Koelsch. S (2009) Universal Recognition of Three Basic Emotions in Music, Current Biology, 19 pp.573-576

Janke, L. (2008) Music, Memory and Emotion, Journal of Biology, 7:21

Koole. S (2009) The psychology of emotion regulation: An integrative view, Cognition and Emotion Vol 23/1 pp.4-41

Schulkind. M, Hennis. L, Rbuin, D. (1999), Music, emotion and autobiographical memory: They’re playing your song. Memory and Cogntition 27:6, pp.948-955

Photo Credit : https://hqwallbase.site 

Can complementary therapies improve your mental health?

People playing himalayan singing bowls to ease mental health

As World Mental Health Day swings around once again, we’re reminded that year on year thousands of people are signing up for meditation, mindfulness, massage and other complementary therapies and practices.
The market is being saturated with everything from Aromatherapy to Zen, but do these approaches work, and how can you choose the best approach to suit you?
Out Founder, Lyz Cooper explores more in this week’s post…

Why do people turn to complementary medicine for mental health conditions?

Millions of people worldwide benefit from managing their health and wellbeing with alternative approaches, many of which are thousands of years old. I have been involved in holistic therapies for over 30 years and it is wonderful to see how the interest has grown over this time. I have worked with many therapies in my time but in 1994, following an illness I experienced clinical depression and chronic anxiety. At one point I was afraid to go out of the house.

I knew I had to do something but not wanting to go out my options were limited. I had done a singing workshop the year before and started toning and overtoning (an ancient technique now used by many sound therapists). I was amazed how much better I felt and was hooked! Sound therapy helped me to come back from what could so easily have been the end of my life at only 29 years of age.

Students at the british academy of sound therapy mental health

Which is the best option for your mental health?

If you have tension in the body then a massage may be the thing for you, to stay flexible there is Pilates, Tai Chi, Chi Gong or Yoga and there are a whole host of different complementary therapies but the main thing is preventing the illness from happening in the first place.

When you feel the signs coming on – muscle tension in the neck and shoulders, unhelpful thoughts running through your head, night sweats, heart palpitations, panic attacks, skin rashes, weight increase or loss – all of these are signs that something is out of balance. If you are worried, go and see a doctor.

Woman with a Himalayan Singing Bowl above her head to help mental health

Remember that there’s always help available

As soon as you feel ‘off balance’ then do something. Don’t waste time, do something as soon as possible without delay. When you are depressed or anxious the temptation is to go into your shell, but before this happens just make small changes each day.

For example, five minutes of therapeutic sound in a day will help reduce anxiety, blood pressure and heart rate . Ten minutes helps release muscle tension and improve mood state. Twenty minutes of singing boosts your immune system.

Share this Post

Kreutz, G., Bongard, S., Rohrmann, S. et al. J Behav Med (2004) 27: 623 Effects of Choir Singing or Listening on Secretory Immunoglobulin A, Cortisol, and Emotional State
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10865-004-0006-9

Beck et.al (2000) Choral Singing, Performance Perception, and Immune System Changes in Salivary Immunoglobulin A and Cortisol. Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Vol. 18 No. 1, Fall, 2000; (pp. 87-106) DOI: 10.2307/4028590

Interested and want to find out more about our courses?
Drop us an email on: [email protected]
or call us on 01243 544454

Top 4 ways to improve your creativity

Paper with buzz words including ideas, vision and innovatio

This week we’re focussing on getting creative, and in particular how you can use sound to get the creative juices flowing. We hope you’ll see how versatile sound can be, and how it can help with relaxation as well as improving the imagination.

Expect top tips from the expert in sound therapy, Lyz Cooper, an ode to Michael Jackson and rhythm vitamins…

1. Focus on the brain for creativity

Research has shown that the best way to stay creative is to work for 90 mins and then have a 10 min ‘brain break’. This allows the brain to slip naturally into an Alpha brainwave frequency which will keep you at the top of your game.
Sound therapy is one of the easiest ways to encourage these brainwaves. Tap out the ‘lub-dub’ of the heartbeat rhythm to the count of four on your thigh, desk or say it in your head for a few minutes. This will relax your breathing, heart rate and blood pressure as the brainwaves follow this relaxing rhythm sound.

2. Create a playlist

Following the relaxing rhythms, create a playlist of upbeat and inspirational music – start with slower tempo music and end with high tempo music. Dance music, although not to everyone’s taste, is really good to enhance your creativity, then follow that with the 10 minute ‘rhythm vitamin’ exercise above.

Lyz Cooper playing bowls for creativity

3. Use certain musical intervals

In your playlist choose songs that incorporate an ascending major 6th. This may sound like jargon, but musical intervals have been shown to affect our emotions and as sound therapists, we use these to help improve health and wellbeing. A major 6th is uplifting and can be used to create an awakening and inspirational space.
Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepson or Man in the Mirrorby Michael Jackson are examples.

4. Use sirens

Sirens are a ‘call to action’ for the brain, a great way to wake up and the rise in tone stimulates the brain. You may want to go somewhere quiet for this exercise to avoid strange looks. Start humming a low tone, as low as you can and fairly steadily go up to the highest tone you can without straining your voice and back down to the lowest again. It will sound like a siren. Repeat this four or five times, getting progressively faster but make sure you keep humming as this will avoid straining your voice.

Share this Post

Interested and want to find out more about our courses?
Drop us an email on: [email protected]
or call us on 01243 544454

A Q&A with Sound Therapy leader Lyz Cooper

Lyz Cooper sat on a sofa

This week’s blog is dedicated to our very own Lyz Cooper who has been revolutionising the world of holistic health through sound therapy for more than 20 years. With a wealth of knowledge and a position as a research leader in her field, her dedication to sound therapy is undeniable. With this in mind, we wanted to get to know the other side of Lyz with a quick Q&A of the top questions that she gets asked..

Expect anecdotes involving chickens, snow kisses and her ‘eureka’ moment that inspired her sound therapy interest!

The serious side of Lyz…

1.Did you have an ‘a-ha’ moment that inspired you to work with sound?

Yes, I was in the bath! I was suffering from ME (chronic fatigue) and had been struggling with chronic headaches, pain in my body and depression. One day I began to use my voice (the bathroom is a fab place to sing with great acoustics!) and I soon noticed that the headache had eased. It was this that inspired me to find out about sound healing.

2. Describe how sound has changed your life in 8 words.

I have freedom from life-limiting illness and stress.

3. What’s been a ‘stand out’ moment for you in your career so far?

My fellowship to the Institute for Complementary and Natural Medicine for my ‘outstanding contribution to sound therapy worldwide’.

4. If you could change one thing in the Sound Therapy world, what would it be?

I would like Sound Therapy to be more widely recognised in the mainstream. We are getting there, but it is taking time.

5. Tell us about a standard day in the life of Lyz Cooper.

The day starts with people sharing their stories about sound. We get some great feedback and testimonials, it starts the day off with a very positive vibe. We then start our sound-work with some kind of exercise – perhaps vocal games, or a drum circle. Then we discuss how the mind, body and emotions are affected by sound and how we could apply our techniques to improve health and wellbeing. At the end of the day we have a session where we combine different sounds, rhythms and voices. Sometimes students carry this on at the beach with a jam session after class.

Group of students holding instruments and practicing drum techniques

The random side of Lyz…

1.Would you rather go through life unable to answer any questions or unable to ask any questions? Why?

As a teacher this is a difficult one for me but I would rather be unable to answer any questions. Teaching is a bit of both, but mostly I aim to help people to find their own answers. As a reflective practitioner, it is crucial that I help others to find their ways to get better and so I would rather go through life not answering questions and just empowering others.

2. If you weren’t working with sound and running The British Academy of Sound Therapy, how would you be spending your days?

I would be writing, composing and researching.

3. Complete this sentence: I hope that people will remember me as

As cheesy as it sounds, I hope that people remember me as someone that developed effective ways to help others get better using sound therapy!

4. And finally, the old classic: if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, do you think it makes a sound?

Yes of course it makes a sound – how would the animals know that they needed to get out of the way! If it didn’t make a sound you would find lots of trees with squashed wildlife underneath…

Lyz’s favourite sounds..

1. Chickens – I always smile when my chickens start a chorus of ‘clucking‘!
2. Fire – Particularly on a cold winter’s evening
3. Singing – Especially Mongolian overtones which remind me of the wind in the Altai mountains.
4. Silence – I love snow because it creates the deepest silence – you can almost hear the hiss of snowflakes ‘kissing’.
5. A gong – I love the Flumi because the sound reminds me of a whale call and is deliciously dark!

Share this Post

Interested and want to find out more about our courses?
Drop us an email on: [email protected]
or call us on 01243 544454

Top 6 sounds to help you to relax in Autumn

Autumn soundsWhile some us might not want to admit it, Autumn has officially begun with the 2016 Autumnal Equinox starting in the UK. With darker nights and drearier days looming upon us, we thought it would be a good idea to remind you all why Autumn isn’t all that bad…

Check out our top six tips for how to handle this transition gracefully and with minimal stress!

 

Seeing the leaves fall isn’t just a beautiful moment for the ears, but the sound of leaves crunching under foot is pretty special too. This sound can release Dopamine, a natural anti-depressant which can leave you feeling euphoric.

The growth of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) in popular culture echoes this, with New Yorker Jennifer Allen first coining the phrase in 2010.

A growing number of followers are now listening to crunching, popping and hissing sounds to help with anxiety, depression and a whole host of other stress-related problems.

So grab your wellies and go for a walk in the forest; kick the leaves and listen to the sound of nature’s very own anti-depressant!

The above sensation of goosebumps or spine tingling when listening to music is known as ‘frisson’.
If you have ever had goosebumps when hearing a piece of music, then you have just given yourself a shot of Dopamine – go you!

Why not put together a number of tracks that give you goosebumps for when the longing for summer hits you?

One of the tracks in your playlist should be this.
This track has been scientifically proven to be more relaxing than conventional relaxation music tested.
Working with Marconi Union, Lyz Cooper added the special sound therapy formula known to promote deep relaxation to the music and we came up with a winning combo of therapeutic music

The sound of the flames crackling along with the warmth lulls you into deep relaxation. Close your eyes and listen to the sound of the logs burning – it will warm the soul!
Don’t have a fireplace? No problem – listen by clicking here!

This track is one of my favourites on my album ‘Emergence’. You can hear a sample of it or order it by clicking here. This album was created at the Spring Equinox, and this track is about waking up. It has sounds that are uplifting and warming, perfect for the long nights and grey autumn days

Join the birds and start tweeting

A study by Ratcliffe et.al, (2013) found that ‘bird songs and calls were….the type of natural sound most commonly associated with perceived stress recovery and attention restoration.’

So basically birdsong is great for keeping you de-stressed so click here to listen to 3 hours of birdsong to lift the spirits and get you on your way.

The good news is that although there are not as many birds around as the weather gets colder, the dawn chorus starts later each day so why not get up a little earlier, wrap up and get some real-life tweets to lift the spirits!

7 ways that you can benefit from a Sound Therapy Diploma

British Academy of Sound Therapy Himilayan Bowl

As the holistic and alternative medicine fields expand, there’s never been a better time to get involved and develop your skill set through a Sound Therapy Diploma course. Whether you’re an occupational therapist, nurse, or just someone with an interest in relaxation therapies, the Sound Therapy Diploma courses on offer at The British Academy of Sound Therapy could really suit you. Read more to find out about our top 7 reasons to get involved…

1. Therapeutic sound has been seen to reduce stress and anxiety so by studying in detail you can help some of those people who are experiencing stress-related health conditions

2. Further health benefits of sound therapy include motor co-ordination and improved flexibility in body and mind. Read more by clicking here.

3. After the course you could run your own sound therapy practice which would bring freedom, creativity and independence – work as much as you want, when and how you want.

4. To start or develop your career as a complementary therapist in a fast-growing dynamic field

5. Gain an in-depth knowledge of how the mind, body and emotions respond to sound and music, so you can finally understand why one piece of music makes you tingle and another makes you cry.

6. Not many therapeutic methods are as creative, dynamic and versatile as sound therapy. You can develop a large portfolio of different group sessions, workshops and therapy sessions by studying as few as three different instruments.

7. Study with an expert in the field at an academy that has 20+ years of research and development behind it.

Interested and want to find out more about our courses?
Drop us an email on: [email protected]
or call us on 01243 544454

Sound Therapy Affects Consciousness

It is no secret that one of the single most prevalent causes of illness and dis-ease is stress. The most common ways that people reduce stress levels is by taking prescription medication, recreational drugs and/or alcohol. According to a Survey undertaken by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) more than 1 in 5 women in the UK are on anti-depressants for stress.

But what if there was an easy, cost effective way of reducing stress without damage to health or nasty side-effects?

The latest research undertaken by Lyz Cooper at The British Academy of Sound Therapy (BAST) has shown that a short session with therapeutic sound known as a ‘sound-bath’ may have long-lasting therapeutic effects, but how does this work? When we are drifting off to sleep our brains go through a cycle which involves slowing parts of the brain down from being ‘conscious’ (aware and alert) to ‘unconscious’ and therefore asleep. Between being awake and being unconscious there are a range of different states of consciousness where the brain is aware but in a drifty, between-the-worlds state. Have you ever felt that warm fuzzy feeling just before you drift off or when waking up from a good nights sleep? If so, it is likely that your brainwaves were predominantly in an Alpha or Theta state at that point. This state is known as an Altered State of Consciousness (ASC) and is associated with creativity, cellular renewal, potassium sodium balance (which results in mental refreshment) and a whole host of other positive benefits.

Most of the time these brainwave states are fleeting and we rarely have much time to enjoy being in this place unless you have had a lot of training. This is the state that meditators aim to reach but it can take years of practice to be able to still the mind enough to reap the rewards. With sound therapy a deep meditative state can be enjoyed easily, without years of practice in the comfort of your home or by going to a professional therapist or a regular sound-bath session.

Lyz’s research has produced statistically significant results with participants achieving a deep ASC and as a result reporting a reduction in stress and muscle tension and a greater sense of emotional and mental well-being.

To read more about the research click here

To listen to the soundbath track used in this study see below (connect your headphones for the best results.

We’d love to hear more about how you felt!