Music, Sound, and Somatics

By Wendell Hanna Ph.D., ASMP, CHSE (Certified Hanna Somatic Educator)

I am proud to share that I am the first Associate Somatic Movement Professional (ASMP) to be welcomed into ISMETA membership and wanted to introduce myself. As a music education professor (San Francisco State University), I have worked alongside dance academics and practitioners for many years and we have always understood and respected each other through the commonality of sound and music. Somatic bodywork can often feel empty to me without the beauty and aesthetics of sound. That is why I have been exploring the combination of somatic bodywork with the therapeutic aspects of rhythmic entrainment and sound resonance.

Rhythmic entrainment is the natural synchronization of body movement with externally perceived rhythmic aspects of music. Clapping, bouncing, dancing, marching, bobbing your head to the beat of music are some examples of rhythmic entrainment.  Rhythmic entrainment, however, is more than just enjoying music, it is a part of organic life. Scientists have observed the phenomenon of rhythmic synchronization in pendulum clocks, circadian rhythms, heart & intestinal muscle rhythms, menstrual cycles, firefly flashing, and in many other natural forms.

Sound resonance, another important acoustic phenomena, occurs in the body when external sounds resonate with the autonomic nervous system resulting in equalizing brain waves, increasing the depth of breathing, slowing the heart-beat, lowering blood pressure, reducing muscle tension, increasing circulation, and endorphin production in the brain.  Sound resonance occurs when a sound wave strikes an object and their frequencies match, resulting in an increase in the amplitude of the struck object’s oscillations, in a sense giving it more vibrance, energy, and health. There are many exciting implications for sound/music medicine being used today with more sound-medicine applications being developed for the future.

My goal in creating Sound Somatics is to combine music/sound therapy with somatic bodywork with the goal of resetting overly constricted muscles in the body and enhancing first-person awareness and parasympathetic balance in one’s somatic system.

The use of slow music with even phrases during somatic bodywork exercises utilizes rhythmic entrainment to facilitate smooth conscious movement and makes repetition of the exercises more enjoyable. I am also exploring how to use sound resonance to guide the enhancement of proprioception and interoception abilities.

My hope is for my ISMETA colleagues to join me in appreciating the potential of sound and music in somatic movement education and therapy in the future.  For more information about somatics with music and sound please see my website https://soundsomatics.net/ or contact me at whanna@sfsu.edu.


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