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Guided Music, Intentionalized Music
By Michelle Herrera Foster, Ph.D,
Director, New England Sound Healing Research Institute

When we pray, we ask for guidance and healing. When a guided musician plays music, the prayer, or intention for healing, is carried by the vibration of the sound, the “carrier wave” (quoting Jonathan Goldman), to the receiver.  The guided musician channels healing energy, in the form of music, from Spirit (God, the Divine) to the receiver. Therefore, Spirit guides the musician to bring in healing vibration in the form of beautiful music and sound. A guided musician is a sound healer who transmits healing with powerful music that is composed by Spirit in the moment, to fit the energy needed by the receiver for healing.  The effects are profound, and, in my experience, the feedback is consistently “that was exactly what I needed.”

In the article “Introduction to Sound Healing and NESHRI” I coined the phrase “Guided Music” to have some way to describe a category of sound healing that is “intentionalized” music,  the beautiful improvised music that flows from our instruments and voices that is empowered by the healing intention and is targeted toward the person receiving the healing. Guided musicians experience performing this music as “getting out of the way” and letting Spirit bring in the music that is intended for this healing. It is a musical meditation, both for receiver and giver.

My experience as a guided musician is that I have been blessed with the gift of being able to receive and forward to others the healing energy from Spirit through the music that I am transmitting. This is an incredibly spiritual experience, and until now (and even now) I have not been able to express the experience easily in words. I only know that I have received this gift to share with others, and I have no choice in the matter. My recourse was to start my own research into healing with music, network with others who have had my experience with guided music and other forms of sound healing, and to found the New England Sound Healing Research Institute to help inform the world of the power and versatility of sound healing.

Guided musicians are healers. We truly believe that the music is divinely inspired and healing music is channeled by the musician from the Divine, and therefore we surrender to Spirit, let go of the ego, and allow the music to come in without judgment. During my Reiki training, I noticed that with every level of training that the healing power of my music deepened. Receivers continuously confirmed this. By the time I became a Reiki Master it became clear that Reiki energy was flowing through my music without my even being conscious of it, by my subconscious intention of wanting to heal others and be connected to the Divine at all times.

Guided musicians are metaphysical practitioners. We believe that all matter is energy (vibration) and therefore is affected by other energy.  We also believe that all thoughts are energy. Therefore, musical vibration and thought vibration can profoundly impact matter vibration in healing ways.  Guided music is therefore in the field of vibrational medicine, and a prime candidate for formal research.

Guided musicians are typically experienced musicians and gifted composers.  I say “typically” because anyone can be a guided musician, by using his or her voice and simple instruments. In my particular experience, I did not discover my composition talents until I became a devotional improvisational musician, playing at ashrams and sacred places in a sea of love and devotion. Even then, I did not recognize myself as a composer until I met other guided musicians who were composers, in my healing music ensemble Bluegate. I receive music when I am in an open state, not “trying” to compose.  You can say that the composing happens in the right brain vs. left-brain. I typically am in a state of meditation when I am receiving guided music, and I often hear 3 to 6-part pieces when they “come in.”

Guided musicians see guided music as a spiritual path. We trust that the Divine is presenting to us through our music, and we trust that we are clear channels to transmit this energy to others. Guided musicians are meditators, i.e. we are not in our minds when we play music, we are transcending the mind. In my 20 years as a meditator, I have been experiencing this more and more through my guided music.

Guided music may arise without conscious intention, by being in a devotional space, meditating, and connecting with the Divine. This energy is absorbed into the music and flows naturally and effortlessly out to the receivers or audience.

Guided music may also be a result of focused intention, such as asking Spirit for the music to come in and heal the person/people receiving the sound healing.  By healing, I refer to bringing balance: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.  The “healing” intention may also be to bring awareness and insights to a situation, decision, or problem.

Guided music has been used to assist:

-         Relaxation

-         Meditation

-         Healing of illness

-         Healing of depression and anxiety

-         Preparation for medication and surgery

-         Goal setting, gaining clarity and inspiration

-         Community building (see “The Magic of Sound Healing Circles”)

-         Psychological therapy

-         Shamanic journeying

One wonderful example of  community building is when Bluegate, our healing music ensemble, was asked to play for Babson College’s Spirituality in the Workplace annual conference in 2003 (we were asked to come back for 2004.)  Our intention for a spiritual and inspirational environment was magnified by that of all the participants.  The net co-created effect was an incredible in pouring of beautiful music that flowed from our instruments to set the “tone” for a powerfully inspirational conference.  We were recognized as significant contributors to the conference and were given speaker awards. Participants were quoted:

“Very heart opening”


“Unifying group”


“Come back next year! Please.”

“Loved it – very soothing and meditative.”

 “Very peaceful; a great atmosphere for thinking about strategy – future ideas but also for reflection.”

“Beautiful. Generates contemplation, meditation, relaxation.”

“This music teaches harmony by example and experience.”

”Uplifts the spirit”

 “Enables meditative awareness without formal sitting practice:

 “Gives employees a mini-vacation”

“Multicultural peacemaker – common ground of spirit, sensation, pleasure.”

I invite others to share their experiences of guided music with us, by submitting an email to michelle@neshri.org,  or neshri@neshri.org, or to submit an article to www.neshri.org. We are a growing family of passionate sound healers!.

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