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A Music Genre To Fit All Your Mood- Jazz

Music, as they say, cannot be contained within walls. It's definition too is broad and different for different people.

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From dance music to a vehicle of happiness, different ways to look at jazz . Flickr

Jazz  a genre with the ability to embrace varied cultures — has evolved exponentially in the past century-and-a-half and is today a major form of musical expression. But what is it that exactly gives a “jazzy characteristic” to a musical note?

Some of its foremost practitioners, who assembled at this scenic beach town recently, have different ways of defining it. if it’s “dance music” for one, “broad in its scope” for another, and a “vehicle to make people happy” for yet another, the search for what the musical form means to its practitioners remains elusive — and yet it is so dear to them all.

At the “Koktebel Jazz Party”, organised here last month, jazzy instruments such as the saxophone, trombone, trumpet, and piano were played to the beats of different music styles to create different kinds of fusions as musicians from over 20 countries participated in the annual extravaganza.

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Goa International Jazz Live Festival 2016. Facebook

Jean-Paul Maunick, 61, a founding member of British acid jazz band “Incognito”, quipped that jazz originated from the blues.

“Blues is the music that people played to express their sadness, to tell stories about dire lives. Then it came along, which was more instrumental, more free, the music created for dancing.

“Jazz is like the first dance music for me. Free dancing, where you show free expression. You throw your body but nobody is doing the same two steps. There is choreography if you want it, but most jazz music is about free dancing. The music, dancing and conversation between musicians is like that,” he shared.

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Jools Holland performing at the second Gibraltar International Jazz Festival held at the Queen’s Cinema in October 2013. Wikimedia

For Maunick, jazz is not just “an intellectual thing” — while it may be true that jazz is a “thinking man’s thing”, it is also a way “to just express yourselves”.

But is jazz all about dancing? It certainly is not, or at least that is how Rajeev Raja, the founder of Indo-Jazz music band from Mumbai, “Rajeev Raja Combine”, perceives it.

“It is not necessarily about moving. I wish to go back to the era when we used to listen to an entire album and keep listening to it. The genre is very broad in its scope and execution. There certainly are elements like swing, but there is much more to it,” he told IANS.

At the festival, there were a group of American musicians who came together for the second time after performing first in Moscow. They performed under the label, New York All Stars.

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Jazz is like the first dance music. Free dancing, where you show free expression. You throw your body but nobody is doing the same two steps. Flickr

The drummer of New York All-Stars, Carl Allen, grew up playing all kinds of styles but settled at jazz.

Also Read: Kuala Lumpur To Host The Premiere of ‘Mughal-e-Azam: The Musical’

“That’s the kind of music that excites me. That’s the kind of music that makes me happy. I try to use it as a vehicle to make other people happy. Everything is cyclical. A lot of things we hear now, people call it new but it is not really new It has been done before. It’s just a process. It’s always a cyclical process where people are putting together R&B, soul and jazz. That happened in the 1960s, 70s too,” he told IANS.

Music, as they say, cannot be contained within walls. It’s definition too is broad and different for different people, or so it seemed at the three-day festival that aimed to celebrate all things jazzy. (IANS)

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Ease Pain and Nourish Social Connections through Music

Over the years, medical studies have shown that music has many health benefits, too. Those range from facilitating regular breathing and lifting mood to improving emotional function and motor control in patients

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Music has long helped people express their emotions and connect with one another. Over the years, medical studies have proved that music has many health benefits. They range from facilitating regular breathing and lifting mood to improving emotional function and motor control. VOA

It’s 9 o’clock in the morning, time for 3-year-old Lucas’ weekly music therapy session. “Lucas is autistic,” his mother Katey Hernandez explained. “He has a lot of sensory processing sensitivities, which means he’s really sensitive to loud noises, bright lights and a lot of [activity] around his body, and he really likes to jump and swing and climb and anything active.”

Dixie Mazur brings to Lucas’ home session a bag full of instruments. During the session she plays music and sings. “I like to bring in a wide variety of instruments because, especially with younger kids, the attention spans naturally are very short and I like to be able to give them the freedom and ownership to kind of move our session in the direction they want to go,” Mazur said.

She brings in a piano, a couple of drums, rain stick and egg shakers, “things that provide a lot of sensory feedback as well.” Hernandez is happy with the results so far.

“It’s been very helpful,” she said. “Ms. Dixie has come up with a few songs to help him with social dialogue. So, it helps him communicate with us a lot more, when we can’t figure out what he needs.”

Healing soul and body

Music has long helped people express their emotions and connect with one another. Over the years, medical studies have shown that it has many health benefits, too. Those range from facilitating regular breathing and lifting mood to improving emotional function and motor control in patients.

So, it has become a part of the therapists’ toolbox, used either in one-on-one sessions or group settings. It can be passive, where patients listen to music, or active, where they participate in playing instruments and singing.

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Kelsi Yingling, NeuroScience Music Therapy founder, says a music therapist should have passion for music and helping others. VOA

Zoe Gleason Volz brings music therapy to a group of people with a range of cognitive disabilities. “As a group, they don’t really engage with each other,” she said. “So, a lot of my work is trying to slowly get them to positively engage with their fellow group members and actively engage with me.”

The instruments stimulate patients’ senses and muscles. She says the impact is obvious on brain scans of people listening to it. “When you’re listening the entire brain is lit up because it’s having the music and the intellectual sides both kind of firing all at once. Whereas when you’re talking with somebody, you’re probably more into one hemisphere of the brain rather than both.”

Becoming a music therapist

There are more than 6,000 board-certified music therapists in the United States. They’ve gone through 1,000 hours of training, including getting an undergraduate degree and completing a six-month internship, and passing a certification exam.

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Music therapist Dixie Mazur brings to Lucas’ home session a bag full of instruments. During the session she plays music and sings. VOA

ALSO READ: US Researchers Finding Ways to Treat Dementia

But Kelsi Yingling, who founded NeuroSound Music Therapy, where Gleason Volz and Mazur work, looks for more than a certificate. “The type of skills we wanted to see in a therapist are strong musical skills, interpersonal skills and the ability to relate to our clients,” she said.

Music therapists should be patient and able to adapt to various situations, she says, adding that the work is easier when therapists have passion for music and for helping people. “The fact that I get to use music to help other individuals achieve their goals and their highest potential is really one of the most rewarding things I can be doing in my life,” she added. (VOA)