Ensemble Directors: Dr. Glenn Smith and Rita Gigliotti
The Healing Arts Ensemble (Undergraduate and Graduate levels) is improvisatory in nature and includes unconventional as well as common instruments and voice.
Music played will often be pedal/drone based and may employ overtones, pentatonics and modes as source materials. Each person will be expected to use their voice and play light percussion, and not necessarily their major instrument in some cases. The musical focus will be on group identity and deliberate healing intent, with less emphasis on artistic goals.
The Healing Arts Ensemble does give public performances and some session recording is planned. Class attendance is mandatory. It serves as the practical application for the core Well-Being courses, Music as a Healing Art (MUSI 455/555) and Music and Consciousness (MUSI 477). This course fulfills the requirements for the Music for Well-Being Minor and the new Music for Well-Being Graduate Certificate. The objective is to become a “collective vibration.” This is achieved through focused intent.
The three main purposes of the collective vibration are:
- To learn to play with healing intent
- To become aware of, and control how music alters consciousness
- To explore various brain-wave states induced through meditation, and musical performance as contemplative experience.
Intent is focused with clarity of mind through various changes in performer’s brain wave patterns. The stressed-out, scattered mind can become focused through meditation and/or contemplative techniques. Each class will begin with a simple meditation that brings everyone to the same level of consciousness before any music is played; two-thirds of ensemble work is accomplished here.
Most of the time the music will be produced by the voice, drums, and/or Orff instruments. At some point near the middle or later part of the semester other instruments may be introduced. Musical materials will be drawn from modes (pentatonic and diatonic), rhythmic constructs, and the overtone series. Toning, chanting, overtone singing, and drumming will be the principal musical activities.
Improvisation gives the performer the opportunity to get in touch with the heart or "seat of emotion." This can occur because:
- materials of the performance originate with the performer;
- there does not have to be a commitment to an artistic outcome;
- it is a reflection of the ”now” state;
- it is an opportunity to carry full intention;
- it is the merging of thought and emotion;
- technical limitations are not an issue.
In order to access the creative source one must let go of the verbiage of our physical world programming and reach back to the creative source that lies within the higher self. These ensemble techniques are designed to help students with performance anxiety and serve as an aid in attaining a state of equanimity when performing.
In the video below, the Mason Healing Arts Ensemble showcased Master of Music Composition alumnus J.C. Cantrell’s Dissolution, Resolution, and Awakenings as they pondered the coronavirus dissolving out of existence.