Post Graduation Program Testimonial

Nada Centre Music Therapy – Post Graduation Program

Testimonial from a student – Ana Rita Simonka Peniche, Portugal June 2021

With observations and conclusions..

Dear Dr T.V. Sairam and Nada Centre Team: 

First I would like to thank effusively Nada Centre for the opportunity to participate in this program that attracted my interest since the first contact. I realized that this course is not based on a merely technical or academic approach – but it´s also a very deep philosophical subject with many insights about MUSIC and its HARMONICS vibrating in many levels through the human journey on this planet. 

The proposal to bring Eastern and Western knowledge closer together is also a major differential of this program, bringing an innovative approach on how we can relate the modern science with the traditional heritages in a new path free of any dogmatism or sectarianism. A millenary knowledge – such as Indian music or even Yoga – has postulates and canons to preserve, but over the centuries, the knowledge of Ragas, Mantras and Meditation has been updated. It is precisely this update that safeguards its transcendent aspect, allowing us to communicate and to work with what matters, namely: the tools to align the body, the soul and the spirit using both music and meditation.

In this sense, the course did not disappoint me at all, on the contrary, I believe I received much more than a diploma: I found a safe source of information and discussions to which I can return in the future in search of further improvement, exchange of ideas and sharing. I believe that Nada Center is working to review the great traditions of Ragas, Mantras and Yoga, and the course definitely has my applause as it is creating a new concept in music therapy.

In my life I had the opportunity to visit India twice and I could realize that there are many similarities between India and my country of birth that is Brazil. Brazilians and Indians are both extremely musical people, with large popular and devotional parties where the people spontaneously present an astonishing “menu” of therapeutic tools ready to be rescued and used in music therapy. I would say that both Brazilians and Indians are born music therapists – and this is a great quality of these people: they know how to use music and dance for their healing processes, alleviating the difficulties and sufferings of life – and we must learn from the people.

I also would say that both Indians and Brazilians are endowed with this talent like nowhere else in the world – and all this gifts must be well preserved. I believe it is the role of a music therapist to create this bridge going to the cultural roots while preserving its vibrancy, color and strength. In this sense, the great respect that Nada Centre pays to the original culture of Índia is a great differential. India has the largest and oldest music therapy tradition in the world, spread through its folklore and elite culture, and it is essential that Western music therapy come to enjoy this knowledge as well.

Music is a true science of “tuning the soul”, whether it is an intuitive use such as occurs in a popular devotional festival, or in case of being systematized by a science of music therapy. I believe that a music therapist should not only look at what happens in his clinic, but especially he should look at what happens “out there” and try to learn from his culture all the energy of music and dance, because there are huge secrets to be unraveled there.

At this moment when I focus in my my last assignment to this program, I confess that I have to control my strong desire to write lots of things… but to make it easy, I decided to select 12 main topics to develop trying to be as succinct as possible. If the Nada Center team understands that I should make it more detailed, I am willing to expand my analysis and I will gladly do so. I followed the strategy of comment on general topics rather than talk over separately on each of the SRM lessons. I think that an overview is clearer about the advances I have made based on the Nada Center material.

I would like to take this opportunity to immensely thank and praise the pioneering work of Dr T.V. Sairam, a brilliant mind that has the rare quality of flowing between the scientific, the artistic, the philosophical and the therapeutic universes. I believe he is a great model to follow as a thinker because instead of putting these different areas of knowledge in conflict he manages them to use each one to contribute to elucidate the others – and so they all advance together. I think this is the kind of scholar that the world needs today, as globalization brings the need for a new movement of integrative cultural renaissance. People endowed with the “holistic eye” play a decisive role at a time when humanity is behaving like an automated machine and so it happens that many values of civilization are under threat.

Like Dr TV Sairam, I also define myself as a mix of artist, scientist, therapist and yoga practitioner; for me the biggest improvement that the Nada Center course gave to me is to be inspired by Dr. Sairam’s integrative style, which greatly changed my own vision of how to integrate all these diverse knowledges, and I believe this is the greatest contribution of this course. I just have to thank Dr. Sairam and all of his wonderful team.

Thank you for including me in this magnificent journey!

The 12 relevant topics that I selected to comment on the Nada Center course material are in the first paragraph “Nada Center Topics”.

My comments on what I consider the development, influences and advancements in my career as a music therapist are in the second paragraph “My conclusions”.

01_ What is Music Therapy
  • Nada Center Topics: The course goes far beyond the proposal that we should use music to “promote well-being” and insists on a very clear definition with specific methodology on what music therapy is. The program presents its applications, its limitations, its advantages, its specificities showing how it works and presents its main application techniques, and also how to work with the cultural aspects. The approach is broad and objective and at the same time encourages each student to be creative and find their own ways of doing.
  • My conclusions: The course showed me several strategies to go beyond the intuitive level of music therapy. It helped a lot to clarify my questions about the most diverse aspects of music therapy. It also showed me that all music therapists face the same kind of problems and have the same questions – and that the solution that favors one can favor the others – which broadened my vision to the need to participate in sharing and researching groups – despite the most varied limitations in terms of education, experience or local cultural conditions that may exist. It gave me a universal view of music therapy.
02_ Methodology and Techniques
  • Nada Centre Topics: The scientific vision that the course presents is very practical and objective, which encourages us to seek our own methodologies and approaches. Each theme in the great universe of Music Therapy is treated exhaustively in its details and nothing is left out: the possibilities of sounds, notes, melody, rhythm, beat, humor (Rasa), repertoire and etc…
    Everything is methodically analyzed including the most specific cases of healing techniques. The course also talks exhaustively about the appropriate number of sessions and their duration, taking into account the age, gender, personal taste and activities and occupations of each client. Nada Center’s teaching methodology encourages creativity and the search for unique and fully customized solutions, without neglecting the scientific aspect of the approach.
  • My conclusions: The course led me to rethink all the possible applications for music therapy, changing my point of view at aspects that I hadn’t realized yet, especially when it comes to creating methodologies for healing sessions focused on more specific situations. It showed me how to invest in a very clear strategy, bringing my intuition along with the methodology. This makes each music therapy session much more creative, more pleasurable and safer – above all, it improved my condition for evaluating the results.
03_ Macro Perspectives and Micro Perspectives
  • Nada Center Topics: Music is a phenomenon that takes place in two dimensions – the macro dimension which is our life in society and culture – and the micro dimension which is the inner life of each individual. During the Nada Center course, these two perspectives are treated with the same level of importance, always seeking for the best adjustment between both macro and micro. In the Nada Center course, the cultural or macro dimension is always taken into account as a determining factor in the therapeutic transformation to awaken at the micro level – which is the healing movement of the soul. The results are to be expected “out there” ie how the music therapy will actually change someone’s life at the macro level – the social level.
  • My conclusions: The course helped me improve my methodology in music therapy to adjust the macro and the micro dimensions. Before Nada Centre program I was purely intuitive on this – but now I pay more attention to measuring the results in a session. Now I can focus on both: the inner life and the results of how music therapy can improve someone’s life by creatively reintegrating he or she into the society positively. I see clearly three main steps in a music therapy session: establish non-verbal communication, act as a therapist to induce the “soul movement”, and adjust the therapeutic interaction as a psychodynamic movement – finaly, it´s just watch how this movement will guide the client for a new life in the society.
04_ Music and Yoga
  • Nada Center Topics: I must say that the contents of Nada Center that relate music and yoga were for me a real delight. Unfortunately, the misinterpretation about Yoga and traditional Indian Music are spread over the Western countries. The knowledge offered by Nada Center in this regard is of paramount importance. The practical teachings about the Ragas, the Srutis, the Talas, Hindustani X Carnatic and the styles of “Indianness” in all their therapeutic potential are priceless knowledge.The course not only offers work tools but also inspires to a new look at the relationship between music and spirituality, going far beyond Western concepts of music therapy – which are much less profound and focused only on the psychic and emotional field and devoid of philosophical or metaphysical statements – on the contrary the Nada Centre program considers music in its cosmological, ontological and transcendental dimensions.
  • My conclusions: The course gave me much more confidence to work with Yoga techniques that integrate music and sound; it gave me a new insight into Nada Yoga, Nada Anusandhana, and even about the use of Ragas, Mantras and meditations for the Chakras. The course also gave me more feedback to analyze and discuss the shortcomings of Western music therapy methodologies that are merely psychological or physiological and that do not refer to the more esoteric side of the issue. In this sense, the course gives us a very deep training to deal with the spiritual aspect of music therapy.
05_ Aesthetic Studies and Music Therapy
  • Nada Center Topics: Another highlight of this course were the exceptional aesthetic and stylistic considerations of “Indianness” in music, brilliantly raising the issues of dual activation of the two cerebral hemispheres, the relationship between sound waves, brain waves and levels of consciousness between others. The course offers an “Ayurvedic” approach, that is, it explains music therapy as an ancient art of seeking balance between the “gunas”, an art of promoting the balance and adjustment of the extremes – reason and emotion, verbal language and intuitive dimensions, matter and energy among so many other themes. Just remember the quote by Yahudi Menuhin: “… despite the domination of this hypnotic mood, the characteristic of Indian music is that far from deadening the intellect, it actively liberates the mind.”
  • My conclusions: Based on what I learned in the Nada Center course, today I can conclude that my goal as a music therapist is to awaken a “sattvic experience” in my clients. I intend to promote the balance of all this levels: physiological, psychological and energetic. The aesthetic and stylistic studies on Indianness gave me a very scientific view of how this whole process is possible through music: the sound vibrations reveals the subtle frame hidden, the sacred geometry pulsing on the same patterns and echoing its healing power through all levels of existence as a true Yoga.
06_Music Therapy as a New Science
  • Nada Center Topics: The Nada Center course provides an excellent scientific background with the most recent studies on how we perceive and react to music through advanced researches in neurophysiology, neuroacoustics, neuropsychology, hormones and so on. With this approach, the Nada Center shows that music therapy should be seen as a new and promising science, with capabilities far superior to a simple “relaxation” or “entertainment”.
  • My conclusions: I was totally away from the scientific discussions and its most recent publications; but with the Nada Center course I got back into the habit and now, I like to look for articles and researches in search of the brand new topics in scientific areas that could be interesting to the music therapist, and this has been very beneficial –  I’m even planning to subscribe into a doctor degree program to improve my Master Degree – thanks to the Nada Centre!
07_The Holistic Aspects of Music Therapy
  • Nada Center Topics: Nowadays many people use the terms “holistic” and “quantic” without having a proper idea of their real meaning and in great confusion with subjects from the classical Eastern traditions. For a music therapist who is working in the holistic healing, it is very important to be clear about all these definitions. In the Nada Center course, holistic concepts are presented with great objectivity, clearly contextualizing the science of music therapy. One example is the studies that the Nada Center course presents on the “homeopathic” action of music therapy, that is, the conclusion that an emotion that caused a trauma can be experienced in a positive way when the client is listening to music that represents the same emotion. This is an analysis that reveals that music therapy has a principle similar to any homeopathic drug that brings in its signature the duality of both poison and medicine simultanely.
  • “My conclusions”: One of the biggest problems of Holistic Therapists Training courses is that they invest a lot in the practical agenda and ignore the more theoretical issues. With this posture, they fail to investigate the foundations of the holistic phenomena, and how can a therapist actually evolve without a theoretical understanding? The Nada Center course is an excellent example of how it´s possible to include both theory and practice, and where the music therapy is seen as an holistic science to be improved every day. 
08_Music, Consciousness and Transcendence
  • “Nada Centre Topics”: The Music therapy in its Western approach actually remains conditioned to the psychic and mental levels – even when it declares that it is taking into account the “spiritual”. To reach a more profound undestandig, we must pay attention to the yogues, the sufis and the ancient musicians from the Eastern cultures, for who the traditional arts are always associated with objective sciences since early times. The Nada Center course does assumes this level of discussion on the spiritual in art without any sectarianism or religious point of view to highlight all these scientific aspects of traditional spiritual art. The Nada Centre lessons are full of topics that help us to relate music, conciousness and transcendence in a very assertive point of view, revealing a very innovative approach on music therapy. 
  • “My conclusions”: Music therapy when understood as a process of raising consciousness is able to lead the client on a very large path of transformation. By going very far from the relief of momentary pains it can lead to a more permanent state of balance and stability. The Nada Center course gave me much more confidence about these possibilities of transcendence and meditation, sharing materials and tools that help us in the awakening process. After the Nada Centre program, I feel much more prepared to guide people into this higher level of understanding, showing to them that music is much more than “relaxation” or “headache pill”. Music is a very safe and clear path to transcendence and the music therapist must take it in hands.
09_Esoteric Aspects and Healing
  • “Nada Center Topics”: All those who discover the therapeutic possibilities of music originated in the Eastern traditions end up understanding that there is a “power” and an “energy” that can be awakened by a Raga, a Mantra or even by certain intentions of the mind combined with the use of certain qualities of sound – such as the harmonics in Tibetan Bowls or Tamburas. In fact, Western music therapy still lacks definitive studies – theoretical and practical – to describe these relationships that exist between music, energy and healing power. The “energy” or “power” of traditional music is often assumed to be a superstition, belief or magic, failing to realize that there is a science behind these phenomena that involves a huge knowledge on biological, cosmological and spiritual subjects. The Nada Center course addresses positively the relationship that exists between the “esoteric effect” and healing produced by transcendental sounds, and leads us to understand their natural capacity to energetically potentiate organisms, individuals, an entire audience, groups and the whole society.
  • My conclusions: The Nada Center course material contributed a lot to my training and performance as a music therapist, giving me a solid basis to develop my own studies, classes and music therapy sessions combining the most esoteric and mystical aspects with an objective approach and a rational methodology. With all this background I feel confident to atend both: students more interested in deepen their knowledge and clients searching for healing that can not be so interested in “understanding” – but are open to a more spiritual experience.
10_ Music Therapy as an Universal Blessing
  • Nada Center Topics: The Nada Center course is not limited to discussing the healing power of music within the Indian tradition, but brings an incredible, universal approach that reveals the healing power of music therapy in the most diverse peoples and periods in history. The course awakens the music therapist to keep seeking for new information about how these powers are manifested in the most diverse human societies and under the most diverse conditions. The course considers the phenomenon of music therapy in its most elementary bases without making distinctions between more primitive or more sophisticated peoples, attributing the same therapeutic value in a musical experience be it a shamanic drum or orchestral music, be it a Veena concert or a romantic song from Bollywood – it depends on the mood and the situation! The Nada Center’s vision treats the phenomenon of the healing power of music much more broadly than it is usually treated, surpassing the approach in Western universities and also breaking the boundaries of music restricted to to Indian classical art enthusiasts. With this vision the Nada Centre contributes enormously to help everyone of us who are interested in the phenomenon from an universal and borderless point of view.
  • My conclusions: From my point of view – and considering the paths of an increasingly globalized culture – I think that it´s very important that a music therapist can have a very clear vision on “regionalism” and “universalism”. I mean that a music therapist should respec each one on its own values – the regional roots must be put together the universal approach. The Nada Center course offered me many tools to rethink this need of combine the regional and the universal in music therapy – and how we should keep the mind open to create effective sessions joining them. The conclusion is that we can change the listening of a large orchestra for a simple finger cymbals trembling, we can present a frame-drum solo to an overthinking person – however “primitive” it may seem, it´s not a problem at all… lets remember as an example the classical musician Ravi Shankar and so many other artists who flow into many different fusions without remain locked into “ghettos”, sects or “spiritual groups”; note that the internet is broadcasting Gurbani Sikh directly from Golden Temple and the Paquistan Qawali became pop music… it´s a totally new situation and who knows what is going to be in the future? That´s why an universalist approach is so important – and the Nada Centre course give me a new eye to go very far beyond the barriers of the “clinic and client” to conclude: music therapy is a real universal blessing to everyone in everywhere.
11_ Music as Sadhana and Sadhana as Healing
  • Nada Center Topics: Although “sadhana” refers to a type of discipline common to strict Yoga practitioners, the Nada Center course presented a much broader understanding of this term and here I will transcribe an excerpt from one of the lessons which illustrates what I mean: “We have seen that the rhythmical time structures are found both in music and in human mind. Further the analytical and emotional aspects of the brain (as associated with the left hemisphere of the brain and its right hemisphere respectively) are found both in music and in mind. It is curious to note that it is a fair combination of analysis and emotion (intuition) which is required in day-today management in human life. One at the cost of the other may prove disastrous. With analysis alone, a person may turn out to be a heartless animal as emotion in excess makes one blind. Balancing these two had been a part of sadhana (practice) in the ancient system of music. By inculcating music in one’s daily life, thus one is assured of a fair balance of analytical as well as emotional inputs. In short music could be a substitute for meditative practices to achieve such goals”.
  • My conclusions: The Nada Centre opinion about how open can be the concept of “sadana” match with my personal view. I believe that music therapy session can be the best opportunity that exists to awaken someone to the notion of “sadhana” such as it is described in the text above. The understanding that “sadhana” can be seen as a management of the balance in daily life is a wonderful incentive for a music therapist to invest more and more in a serious, dense and committed approach. In this sense, the course helps to visualize many intuitions that I’ve already had, completing them with more elaborate and technical concepts. Finally, what is Yoga? We know that many places were people are doing fitness or believing that they are learning Eastern philosophies are so far from being reliable! Why not begin a new yoga journey through the sweet, intuitive, purely energetic path of music therapy?
12_Ecobiology of Music
  • Nada Center Topics: One of the most interesting topics in the Nada Center course is about discussing Ecobiology and Music: music and sounds are constituent parts of our environment, they are our social ecosystem. The ecobiology can mix with music therapy to scientifically determine how the surrounding sounds can positively or negatively affect our individual or collective health status. It´s a very recent and very important new science emmerging as more and more large populations are deprived of being in nature – they are far away from where the inspiring sounds of the sea, wind, birds and the rustle of leaves. The sound environment of big cities is usually aggressive and results in many illnesses – and the Nada Centre program show us how important it is for a music therapist to be in tune with everything that happens around them.
  • My conclusions: Rethinking music therapy within the idea of ecobiology made me greatly expand my vision about the possibilities of using sound and noise control for the development and management of more humane, healthier and happier cities. It is, without a doubt, a very interesting approach that the Nada Center course presents us as it initiates the vision of new directions for the applications of music therapy.

Final considerations:

I hope that my studies can represent my commitment and dedication to fulfilling this program and I make myself available to Nada Center to comment or clarify any doubts about my conclusions.

Looking forward for your comments and analysis.

Best regards

Ana Rita Simonka Peniche, Portugal June 2021