Chip Davis and Mannheim Steamroller

Chip Davis: Mannheim Steamroller

During the 2020-2021 school year our school met mostly in person. However, beginning at Thanksgiving, we went “remote” until January 2021. This was to allow for families, that would probably see other members during the holidays, to have enough self-quarantine time so as not to infect others at school. In Dec. of 2020 we were told to “take it easy” with our students as it was the end of the semester.  During that last week, before Christmas, specials were not to give any online work. So, as our last assignment of the semester, I decided to have students do digital escape room activities.

My favorite digital escape room was for those in grades 6-8. What was it about? It was about a “local” area graduate who had “made it big” in the music industry. The man I speak of is none other than Chip Davis, the founder of Mannheim Steamroller. If you aren’t familiar with his group’s name, I’m betting you’ve heard of at least a few of his arrangements such as the one below.

For about 4 decades now, his Christmas CDs contain some of the most popular arrangements and songs. And I was familiar with some of his other recordings as well – especially his Fresh Aire series. But as I learned there was way more to the man and his music and it all piggy-backed with what I had been seeing, reading and hearing….music being used for healing.

I was looking for videos to link into my Google form and specifically wanted students to hear Chip Davis speak. I found some great interviews that helped them learn more about him and his group.  The video below was a great introduction to him, and I thought it might be great motivation to students as the interviewer and Chip talk about how his “new style of music” was rejected by every recording label. These obstacles did not deter him though. Instead, he believed in himself and his music, never gave up and even found a way to get his music heard after all. I’ll let him tell his story though – watch the video below.

Then I found the amazing video below. I’m starting it at the point where I found it to be particularly interesting. At this starting point the conversation is about how he incorporates nature sounds into his more recent music. Then it develops into healing frequencies and how some hospitals are using his music.  You may find this part of the interview quite interesting yourself. You may even want to use this as a discussion piece in your classes. If you want to see the entire interview, click to view it on YouTube. You can “rewind” it there to see if from the very beginning.

When we met back in person (face-to-face classes) we discussed how the music would be used and the importance of it.  Did you notice Chip mentioned using the recordings of environment sounds – sounds from nature? He even said that the music itself wasn’t the important part, but that the sounds of nature are. It takes a LOT for a composer to say this. More on that in a moment. His music is being used in places like the Mayo Clinic, rehab centers and even operating rooms. If you play this video for your children or students, see if they caught why….. WHY is his music being played in those places? The music in the operating rooms wasn’t/isn’t for the patients but for the doctors, such as heart specialists working on long surgeries, to help keep them calm.

And how or why is that? As he mentioned, the “magic” wasn’t really in the music but in the recordings of nature. Getting outside can really help ground and calm people. Whether it’s walking barefoot on the sand, swimming in a lake, climbing a mountain – it doesn’t matter. Even just sitting, laying on the beach, relaxing and listening to nature. Ahhhhh…..can you feel the tension leaving your body as you think about these?  Maybe you can envision yourself relaxing and laying down at the beach while catching some rays…..

Nature, like music has a frequency. Even Mother Earth has her own frequencies. And when you’re feeling stressed, in pain or shrouded in brain fog (such as Alzheimer patients) ….those frequencies can help calm you. They even found that people who listened to this required less medication, such as for pain. The frequencies (music and nature), in addition to breathing deep and slowing your breathing down, can do amazing things for you. Lately I’ve noticed that lots of “spa” and “meditation” music are using nature sounds as well: rainforest, rain, ocean waves. I’ve tried it when I can’t get outside and feel it has helped me a great deal. I’ve played it for my students too – especially at the end of class after all our excitement and noise making and/or during transitions for focusing. Research it for yourself and try it out too. I hope that you and your students experience the same feeling of calmness and peace.

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