Altermuse was founded by with the goal of enhancing health and supporting wellness through the therapeutic use of sound and music. We provide therapeutic music in hospitals and other medical settings, and offer sound baths in more alternative venues, such as yoga studios and health spas.
Founder Sue Carney, explains how the path unfolded...
After a long career as a professional musician and composer, I was sidelined by a head injury. Although I was unable to play or sing for some time, I thankfully never lost the ability to read. So, in the hope of finding a way out of the maze posed by my injury, I began to read about the newest discoveries being made in neuroscience.
Initially, I was drawn in by the groundbreaking work: The Brain That Changes Itself (2007), by Norman Doidge. The book described the then-new theory of neuroplasticity, which asserts that the brain never loses the ability to repair and rewire itself, in response to injury and new learning. This was in sharp contrast to the previous, longstanding view that the number of brain cells was fixed, and that the brain gradually wasted away as cells were lost, but could not be replaced. Happily, that is no longer thought to be the case.
As the book described it, not only could my brain recover fully- if I embraced new knowledge, and rebuilt carefully, I could possibly emerge from my ordeal with a better brain than before the accident. This gave me hope, and further fueled my studies. The more I read, the more fascinated I became with this emerging field. And, having been a musician since childhood, I became completely engrossed in the literature describing the effects of sound and music on the brain.
When I was finally well enough to begin to rebuild my musical technique, it was rough going at first. The playing was disjointed, arhythmic, and very slow. But, as I began to reclaim my musical skills, the effect on my overall recovery was remarkable. As my rhythm improved, I began to speak more fluidly, with more of my original vocabulary. As I practiced intervals, everyday events became more understandable. More things seemed worth laughing at. It was wonderful to see how deeply embedded the musical skills were, and how richly connected to all of my returning mental powers. For example, practicing sharp keys unlocked geometric theorems that I had not remembered since high school. But sharp keys did not unlock flat keys! Those had to be separately reestablished, and were, in turn, intertwined with a whole different set of memories and life skills. It took a decade before my recovery was complete, but when I returned to performing, my musical skills were stronger than they had ever been before.
In 2019, I became interested in learning more directly about music and healing, and so enrolled in a certification program for therapeutic musicians. This training focused on using music to assist hospitalized patients with such things as heart rate stabilization, pain relief, stress reduction and dealing with issues of loss and mortality. The techniques are grounded in the the latest scientific and medical studies, showing that music is a very effective therapeutic tool that can be used to enhance healing in a variety of modalities.*
In 2021, I am planning to attend the University of Oregon, to learn even more about the intersection of sound, music and healing.
Because of the COVID 19 virus, we have been unable to offer any of our services, which are all given in person. But, we look forward to the future, and continue to refine our sound and music treatments.
In the meantime, we wish you and yours the best of good health.
* Visit the Music for Healing and Transition Program (MHTP) website, for a wealth of more information about therapeutic music.