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Massage Today
November, 2006, Vol. 06, Issue 11

Making the Most of Sounds That Soothe

Submitted By George Skaroulis

I have been a fan and regular recipient of massage therapy for years. Over that time, I have made many friends in all aspects of the massage industry. Great massage therapists have a passion for their work, much like my passion for creating music.

We share a desire to provide comfort, either by touch or by sound, and we can improve the quality of people's lives every day. That truly is a good feeling. Massage and music therapy can both achieve similar results and, when combined, can be quite powerful, comforting and emotionally cleansing.

I have always said that if I weren't a musician, I would be a massage therapist. As of June 2006, I have completed my certification in reflexology from The Heal Center in Atlanta. I feel more connected to the purpose, power and importance of touch now more than ever because I can combine my two passions - music and touch - and for that I am grateful. I am so grateful for this connection that my newest piano CD release is inspired by and dedicated to massage therapists, reflexologists, natural healers and caregivers around the world. As part of the giving back, I joined Massagewarehouse, a Scrip Company, for the AMTA Foundation event in Atlanta in October and agreed to donate my music and my reflexology services to help sponsor the event. It's another way for me to show my appreciation for an industry that has given so much back to me.

Because of my affinity toward music and the power of touch, I'd like to share a few tips to keep in mind when selecting music. This will help you make sure you are using it to its fullest potential.

Use Good Judgment When Selecting Your Music: Choosing the right music for your work, and ultimately for the relaxation of your clients, is just as important as buying a comfortable massage table, or choosing the right massage products and linens. Keep in mind, your goal is to create a relaxing environment that takes the massage to a higher level. The proper music enhances this experience and separates a good massage from a great massage.

Listen Before You Buy and Look Beyond the Cover: A CD cover may look perfectly relaxing and calm on the outside, but sometimes that's as far as it goes. It has been my experience, as I am sure you can relate, that one wrong song can ruin the entire intent of your session. Whenever possible, go online and preview the sound clips before making your selection to purchase a CD. If purchasing from a catalog, read through the description, and then contact one of the sales reps and have them describe the CD for you. I have found that most companies require their associates to listen to each CD to make recommendations, if listening is not an option for the customers.

Check the Time Frame of the CD: When I create new CDs, I often get feedback from several of my trusted CMT friends before finalizing a recording. I also try to release CDs that run at least an hour long; this is a helpful tool if you offer one-hour sessions, because there's no need to change the music during the session.

Variety Is the Spice of Life: In addition to listening before you buy your music, once you have selected the proper music, change it occasionally. Sometimes, people tell me they have three CDs in their collection and they have been using them for years. Yikes! Your regular clients will appreciate the variety. Changing or adding new music to your play list keeps your session interesting, and also keeps you revived, refreshed and rejuvenated. This is most important for your own sanity.

Feel the Rhythm - Set the Pace: Use the music to set the pace for your work. Listen to the music and work "to" the music. If some of your song selections are rhythmic, incorporate that rhythm into your moves, if possible. If the music is slow and smooth, you might slow your strokes to fit the pace. Work as if you are dancing or interpreting what you hear through your hands. If you find this difficult, it could be that you simply need new music to inspire you!

Silence Is Golden: In many cases, due to our busy lives, people want to disconnect, relax and heal during the time they are with you. For many people, massage is an escape from a hectic world. Try to allow "talk time" before the session begins. During the session, keep conversation minimal or even silent. Allow the client to take their "escape" and let the music be their guide.

Select the Right Equipment: With today's advanced technology, you have a variety of ways to enhance your massage. If you work in an office, clinic or day spa, you might choose a CD player, com-puter, laptop, iTunes, or iPod as your source for sound.

If you prefer to use a CD player, here are a few suggestions:

  • Have a CD player with at least three-disc capability; five is even better. CD players have become very reasonably priced and you can visit your favorite department store to find some very affordable, all-inclusive player and speaker systems, with additional options including surround sound and remote controls, for around $100.
  • Remember to use the shuffle option occasionally to add variety, instead of playing the music in its original sequence.
  • Replacing one or two CDs in the mix, as well as shuffling, keeps you from knowing what song is next and keeps your session from getting predictable.

If you have a computer or laptop in your session room, or utilize iTunes, an iPod or a similar music library, you are enlightened! The beauty of these players is that you can hand-select your favorite songs and keep adding songs to your "massage music" file. Again, use the shuffle option and you will have hours of music.

Remember, you can take this service with you during out-calls. An iPod, for example, can plug into your client's home stereo system if you carry an RCA adaptor cord. Your clients will appreciate the thoughtfulness of you being so prepared, and it's much easier than carrying a boom box around.

For those of you who offer corporate or chair massage, take it to the next level and give your clients a completely new experience. Take a good set of headphones (the around-the-ear variety are best) and a small portable CD player or iPod with your chosen music. Let your clients escape from outside distractions; they'll enjoy your massage work much more and appreciate the calming effect of the peaceful environment that only they can hear. I have tried this at various noisy massage tradeshows and conventions with great success. If you see several clients back to back, you can take along some sanitary wipes to clean the ear pads between sessions.

Sharing the experience: In our world of convenience, I have one more suggestion. If your clients constantly are complimenting and inquiring about the music you play, why send them on a wild goose chase to find it? Connect with the record label or a massage supply company to purchase CDs at your professional cost. It's a small investment and you can sell the CDs to your clients directly. You are going the extra step of providing great service, especially for those clients looking for last-minute gift ideas. Also, it's rewarding you with the additional income from the sale of the CDs.

I have several independent massage therapists who resell music to their clients. When buying in quantities, you also can afford to give the CDs as gifts to your better clients on birthdays or special occasions.

And one last tip: Remember to slip your business card inside the CDs, so your clients will be reminded of you when they listen to the music at home!

George Skaroulis is an award winning pianist and composer known for his ethereal and soothing piano style. His peaceful music is used by therapists and spas around the globe. George has dedicated much of his time toward events that have raised thousands of dollars for massage therapy research, benefiting both the Touch Research Institute and the Massage Therapy Foundation. His latest CD, the George Skaorulis Essential Collection and his 16 CDs are available at, iTunes and Amazon.


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