More MS news articles for January 2000

Good vibrations can soothe, heal

Musician couple notes impact of musical tones

By Lois M. Collins
Deseret News staff writer

Kate Mucci played the piano for pleasure; her "real" life centered around law. A paralegal, she was going to law school when she got the hankering to learn to play the harp.

Kate Mucci, with Celtic harp, co-wrote "The Healing Sound of Music" with her husband.

Her husband Richard, a radio announcer, accompanied her on the guitar.

Quite by accident, they found they were creating a form of magic that would change their lives completely.

The sound was beautiful, she said. And completely soothing. Just playing the two instruments and listening to what they created made them feel great. Before long, that was all they wanted to do. They changed careers.

Fast forward a decade. This spring, Richard and Kate Mucci's book, "The Healing Sound of Music," will be released by Findhorn Press. They've also produced a CD, "Millennium," that has garnered rave reviews from listeners around the globe.

But the reviewers aren't writing about the cool lyrics or the upbeat sound. They're touting their own responses to the music. They use words like "relaxed," "soothed," "rested," "unhurried" and "peaceful." On the Mucci's Web page, www.crosswynd.com, they write that they survived the death of a loved one by listening, that they collect themselves after a terrible day by listening, that they conquer insomnia or refresh themselves by listening.

They say, one after another, that the music makes them feel better, clear down to their souls.

The concept of music as a healing tool is nothing new, although formal studies of the topic are more so. LDS Hospital, for instance, announced not long ago that it is taking part in a clinical study of music's healing powers. The concept has had adherents for centuries, some of them very well-known. Haydn, John Sebastian Bach and Ravel, as well as other classical composers, reportedly found that some of their music profoundly affected audiences. They credited an "ancient code of music tones."

It was an idea that can be traced back to very early musicians, many of whom were also doctors, Kate Mucci said. They used a "powerful music code" to heal bodies, soothe souls and generally make people feel better. They said the code was a gift from God.

People like Kate Mucci, who has studied the "ancient code of tones," like to personalize music. It's a system, she said, "of transferring the letters of your name and the numbers in your birthdate into notes on a musical scale." Using those notes and a gift for creating music, you can "tap into energy and tunes that help heal." (Having it done by someone else, by the way, can cost $500 or so.)

Mucci doesn't claim she can shrink cancers (although she believes some gifted musicians can). But she says she has helped people with multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease control their symptoms by showing them how to "tune their bodies" by playing.

A man named Ron Price of Chicago, for instance, was a trumpet player who lost the ability to walk because of Parkinson's. When he started playing the harp, his arms and legs worked better.

Others have claimed that music helped them during chemotherapy. And a man who was dying (and did, in fact, die) said that the music helped control his pain. His family expressed gratitude to the Muccis.

The secret, Kate Mucci believes, is found in the frequencies and vibrations of certain instruments, including harps, guitars, drums, even the human voice.

"With harps, drums, guitar, you are holding it against you and creating vibrations that put you back in tune. Your voice resonates within you. Listening to them does us good, too. We're bombarded by so much noise and sound we can't hear, like radio waves and microwaves, and they're all changing the way we are vibrating."

Kate Mucci speaks of a woman whose multiple sclerosis had made it difficult for her to write her own name or use a computer keyboard. She was in a lot of pain and very depressed. She started playing the harp, Mucci said, and after about eight weeks she could write her name again. The pain decreased, and she stood up for little bits of time. "It helped her overcome. It's not going to cure multiple sclerosis. But it can help alleviate the symptoms."

If it sounds odd, Mucci counters that musicians have the lowest cancer rate of any group of people. Even those who play "bad music" have lower cancer rates. She believes they're creating a vibration that works for them. "What's good for me is not necessarily good for you."

Taste in music indicates what sounds are good for you, she said. They're the ones that make you feel better when you hear them.

So the Muccis travel now, performing intimate, candlelit concerts. They hold workshops where they teach people to breathe "so they can hear better and listen better. Most of us don't listen any more. There's too much going on."

Besides the book, they're working on a documentary on the healing power of music.

And they encourage people to find music they like and listen to it. To sing. To play stringed instruments or drums. To chant.

It may not do anything for you - except maybe help you relax, slow down, sleep better, focus, handle stressful situations with more aplomb, feel better.