Monday, February 22, 2010

Key Ideas For Facilitating Relaxation

Concepts For Drumming & Relaxation

People don't usually associate drumming and relaxation, but slow rhythmic drumming in a group setting with some added ambient instruments like ocean drums and rainsticks can be a great way to relieve stress! In order for a music therapist to facilitate an effective drumming session for relaxation, there are a few ideas that should be considered. These ideas will remain fairly constant with or without drums as part of the experience and will be useful for many different kinds of facilitated group relaxation.

  • Facilitated dialogue - Keep your verbal directions as soft as possible with a relaxed tone of voice. Your speaking tempo should be "Adagio" while leaving some space and time between words and phrases. Start off the relaxation script in a higher pitch of voice and gradually lower the pitch of your voice as the relaxation deepens. Try to follow cues in the music and speak each sentence or idea with a rise and fall of expression as with a musical phrase.

  • Word choice - Use words like "stress" and "discomfort" instead of "pain." Active words also work better than phrases beginning with, "try," "I would like," or "do not think."

  • Music - Client preferred music is always best if you can find appropriate sedative music. Try music that is slow, 60 -70 beats per minute as a pulse. Music without words will be more sedative than music with lyrics. The music should have some melody, but it should be mainly repetitive and predictable. "Elevator" music (e.g., strings versions of rock songs) is not recommended.

  • Breathing is very important. - Direct the group to, "allow your body to find its own natural rhythm." Breathing should be slow; in through the nose and out through the mouth. Deep breathing is aided by obtaining a good exhale. Think of breathing out as a "cleansing" breath.

  • Remind people to relax - Focus the session on feeling relaxed, heavy and/or drowsy. Each body part can be tensed and then relaxed. Each exhale should bring a deeper sense of relaxation, clearing stress from the body.

  • Imagery - It is helpful to imagine breathing in "life" and "vitality." Cool, calm air comes in and stress and discomfort are breathed out.
Remember to practice relaxing! It can become a conditioned response, especially when paired with the same music for several sessions. There is one album by Kevin Kern that I can't listen to anymore because it is such a powerful cue for me to relax!

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