Music makes massage mean more By Derek Marks
It all started when I was eight years old and in standard 2. I had just passed a music exam with 98/100. My elation at the result continued into my early teens when with a friend, I built five electric guitars out of wood using genuine hardware (strings, bridges, tuning knobs) etc. all purchased from a general dealer in Station Road, Bellville.
By then I was already earning from performing music at fetes, church do’s, bops (as they were called in those days) with the Marksmen. At 17 I left school to join my first professional band and by the time I turned 19, I was riding the airwaves with number-one hits in , , and North Africa. The band’s name was ‘The Square Set and our hits included Silence is Golden and That’s What I want. These songs went on to become listed as influencing the history of rock n roll in . Carol Carina got to number 3 in 1967. From the late 1960’s I went on to become a semi-professional musician and to this day I still perform at weddings, corporate dinner dances, parties etc. I consider my music talent a gift.
I mention my own story to explain why music plays such an integral part in my massage practice. Music is vital not only to the patient but also to me as the therapist. I don’t mean that in a selfish way but certainly with the patient in mind, always with the patient in mind.
In the early years of building my practice I acquired a tape player, which meant of course turning the darn tape over about 50 times a day while keeping one hand on the patient. I never did progress to CD’s but jumped right into the arms of the love of my life - an 80gig iPod. Joy at last – and hands-free at that!
Naturally I will recommend that any therapist who would like to play music during treatments invest in an iPod, that is if funds allow. It makes your massage-music-life a pleasure. One advantage is that you can create a playlist of the songs that you would like your patients to listen to and leave it to play for the day. The iPod stores thousands of songs and best of all it obeys your commands instantly.
What sort of music should you choose? Now hear in lies the rub, if you will excuse the pun.
Be brave. I know we should not have a heavy beat playing as it affects the heart rhythm etc. but I’ve had a Rabbi singing the words to Rolling Stone songs throughout his treatment and the end result was always exhilarating, fun and very, very therapeutic.
I choose soft relaxing tunes, mostly instrumentals from artists like Anthony Miles, Michael Hedges, Patrick O Hearn, Pat Metheny, Hennie Becker, Terry Oldfield, Eric Breton, Jazz compilations etc. Also male vocals such as Michael Buble, Steve Tyrell, Michael Franks, Andrea Bocelli etc. I consider men’s voices generally more relaxing. Before I get into trouble for saying this, it is only my opinion, but sometimes I also listen to Barbara Streisand, Annie Lennox, Enya, Basia etc. Then there is Anastacia, Bee Gees, Beatles, Van Halen, Van Morrison, ZZ Top etc. With over 2,500 artists and more than 10 000 tunes at my disposal this list only scratches the surfaces.
I believe that having gone to the trouble to get music from all sources, putting them on my iPod is because it makes a massive difference to my patient’s health, my practice and to me.
Still one must use discretion when selecting music for a massage practice. Keep the following in mind:
- Volume plays an all important part as the music must never interfere with the treatment. I therefore keep the volume control close at hand and I am continuously aware of the volume. Too soft is annoying, too loud sometimes rewarding but only for a very short time. Just right, is uppermost in my mind.
- Certain classical compilations are unsuitable as the volume change automatically according to the mood in the musical piece.
- Piano music is pleasant but must have some substance so as not to be boring and my choice here would be popular standard songs that patients can recognise.
People’s tastes vary at different times of the day, I prefer livelier tunes for the morning, slow it down to less recognisable tunes in the afternoon when the patient is maybe a little tired. I will ask them: ‘What would you like to listen to today’?’. Sometimes the answer is ’What about that compilation of hits from 1953 to 2008? You only played up to 1957 at my last visit. Can I hear more?’. Or someone will say: ’’Just something quiet’’ or ‘’Whatever you want.’’
Whatever I want, always means a selection made with the patient in mind and it can change midway through a treatment if I feel the current assortment isn’t working. I know some therapists use a radio but you have no control over the content and it’s a lazy way out,
It saddens me to think of the therapist that doesn’t like music and therefore uses it only for the patients’ sake or not at all. You have no idea what happiness music brings to the body, mind and soul. To those who do use music to the max, I salute you, well done.
It is clear to me that the music I play contributes to business success as my customers keep coming back.
Have fun, isn’t that what being a massage therapist is all about.