Shore Story: Teacher, students create sound baths for healing, relaxation

As teachers, we are always trying to find new and unique ways to positively connect with our students. As a music teacher, I like to connect with my students through music. I was watching a piece on the Today Show where the hosts were exploring relaxation techniques. Jenna Bush Hager and Hoda Kotb went to a “sound bath” In New York City and took their cameras along. 
The sound bath project has expanded to more than 60 student musicians.

I watched the piece and was amazed by all of the sounds and relaxing, healing environment. It was at that moment that I realized that most of the instruments being used to heal were also in my classroom. Maybe we could recreate this project in a school setting and help our community?
Vibrations are key to the relaxation power of immersive sound baths.
We started with four percussion students in my sixth grade band class. (Jordan, Sophie, Jalen and Sebastian.)  My team teaching partner, Jake Lubbers, was a great support and allowed me to borrow some percussion instruments to use with the kids. Our building administrators at Macatawa Bay Middle School always welcome unique and creative ways to engage with students. I appreciate their support!

The students and I immersed ourselves in learning about sound baths and went through the instruments to find the ones that we thought would vibrate the most and would give the most relaxing experience. 

A sound bath is an immersive sound experience that uses vibrations, sound, and music in a healing way.

We started with a gong, marimba, suspended cymbal, rain stick, and one Tibetan singing bowl that I purchased on sale at Amazon. I still remember our first trial run. The kids almost put me to sleep! It was SO relaxing! 

As part of our school’s “Be the Good” project, we reached out to teachers and offered a sound bath experience during their lunch time. By the end of the year we had reached nearly 20 teachers and had really grown in our craft. We also bonded a lot as a “healing ensemble.” The students became the experts and I was able to trust them to create the individual sound experiences on their own. 
Carrie Ledet's middle school band students worked together to create a sound bath experience.
We have now expanded the program to nearly 60 participating students! One of my former students (Jasmine Jelsema) who is a sound healer by profession comes in to work with our students twice a month on sound baths. It has been a full circle moment for both of us as we have been able to connect as equals through this project. I am SO proud of Jasmine and the work she is doing with our students!

We have now performed well over 200 sound baths. We have up to 10 bowls and several other instruments that we use in class and also travel with. In the past month we have given clinics at Calvin University, Opera Grand Rapids and for MESSA’s Discover You Magazine. Jasmine and I will be co-presenting at a worksite wellness conference in May and will be using our student testimonials as she helps others to create their own healing environment in the music room.

My advice to other leaders would be to consider and support creative ideas. You just never know what the impact will be!
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