From the desk of Prof. Tom Krause - Kammersänger, Doctor of Music
Merion, PA 19066.
Escuala Superior de Música Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain.
Wednesday, December 17, 2003
This letter is to introduce Gary Ames and covey my experience with a promising technology to enhance musical performance. Gary Ames has been a warm acquaintance for nearly 30 years. I have always know him to be a smart and truthful man, clearly interested in helping other people. So, when we met again recently, at a party and he talked about a new technology that improved performance, I was intrigued… skeptical, but interested enough to meet him and try the biofeedback device he described.
He said that he had a completely safe, non-invasive piece of training equipment with singular qualities. I came to understand that it increased the clarity of the central nervous system by playing computerized music, when the brain was in harmony – or not playing music when the brain was churning extra energy. The bursts of silence seem to orient one to the present moment. The effects of these very carefully timed silences are said to be healthful and benign.
My skepticism at this claim was less than yours may be now because I have know Gary since 1977. He described research done by the Royal College of Music in London and other academic institutions that have shown that EEG biofeedback, or neurofeeback, improved musical performance in rigorous quantitative and qualitative scientific research.
Two days after the party, I found myself in a chair with a few wires clipped to my ears and other wires pasted onto my head. I was looking at a moving computer image and listening to music. Both image and sound were interrupted whenever my brain was operating at less than optimum. This turns out be most of the time, but Gary was gentle in leading me toward a very pleasant efficiency. I really found my own way, Gary merely adjusted some feedback controls to arrange for strategic silences.
The experience was utterly calming. I could clearly see some benefits for my own health and well-being and Jean could as well when it was her turn. Jean had a similar experience, but with more subtle emotional overtones, like being in a meditative state. I think that she is even sweeter now if you can believe it. The beneficial effects are said to be enduring. There are only desirable side effects, I understand, such as better quality of sleep.
In a short time I was led closer to a natural state, clear and calm. I recognized this relaxed mode of being as resembling a state of natural performance, where you get out of the way, and the song is sung divinely through you. Several hours later I was still quite relaxed. I noticed my teaching was liberated of stresses that might have come up and that I felt more responsive to students in the moment.
This is the resonant state that I want my students to be in when they come for lessons. I intend to explore gaining access to the equipment or purchasing it. My intention is to arrange for this training with each student until they are able to hold onto the cumulative benefits the training device has to give.
I recommend you speak with Gary, look at the research, and experience neurofeedback. Consider embracing the method for those, like me, who are not quite optimized in their neural functioning and have room to grow toward total relaxation, calm and clarity. Or for those who would welcome transformation to a less cluttered state of mind with greater access to subtlety and a more proficient use of their mental instrument.
Signature on file