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Massage Today
September, 2008, Vol. 08, Issue 09

Providing a Musical Sanctuary

By George Skaroulis

As a regular recipient of massage and reflexology, and a professional musician, I have the distinct pleasure of combining all of my passions in life. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to share my music with massage therapists, doctors, chiropractors, counselors, teachers and healers all over the world.

Four years ago, I attended my first Florida State Massage Therapy Association convention. I absolutely loved meeting each individual therapist. The sharing and exchanging of such great energy and goodwill was a constant reminder I was exactly where I was meant to be.

 - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark My only disappointment was there seemed to be no place for therapists to escape the exhibit hall noise and peacefully enjoy any type of treatment themselves. My creative wheels started turning and by the end of the convention, a concept began to take shape. After collaborating with Angie Patrick of Massage Warehouse, we came up with what is now known as the Sanctuary. It's a comfortable haven in the midst of a busy convention hall: cushy headphones, beautiful music and various treatments including reflexology.

Appropriately, my CD titled "Sanctuary" would be the theme music participants would hear during their sessions. Taking it a step further, Angie turned the idea into a fundraiser for both the Touch Research Institute in Florida and the Massage Therapy Foundation. The Sanctuary first premiered at the AMTA convention in Atlanta in 2006, and its next stop will be in Phoenix for this month's AMTA convention (Sept. 17-20).

Since its inception - and lots of work by Angie, her staff and countless volunteers - this idea has evolved into a benefit and raised thousands of dollars for massage therapy research.

The Sanctuary has been a perfect example of seeing how people respond positively to the combination of touch therapy and music. I encourage you to do your best to create a "sanctuary of sound" in your own workspace: a space without traffic noise, cell phones or barking dogs (more on barking dogs later). I also don't think it's a bad idea to give your clients the option of a quiet session without conversation. I know I personally prefer a session with limited conversation, so do your best to help "tune out" life's background noises with the magic of music. You can concentrate best without external noise distractions, and your client will likely enjoy the peaceful session more.

For those of you, who do any type of chair or on-site massage in noisy office or convention spaces, bring along some quality headphones, a portable CD player or an iPod to offer music for your clients. No client wants to hear outside noise, regardless of whether their session is 10 minutes or two hours. Avoid flat headphones that allow noise to creep in, or any headphones that require insertion into the ear. My preference is for the headphones to fit around the entire ear. They often are made with leather or "pleather" (rubber or plastic that looks like leather). The leather-like covers help secure the headphones and help to block out noise. We use Sennheiser headphones at the Sanctuary; they sound great and are easy to clean. (Sanitary wipes are perfect for cleanings between clients.)

While we are on the subject of music, I know updating your music library might not be at the top of your priority list. However, we all are being forced to think more creatively in ways to both save and earn money.

By offering quality, relaxing and uplifting music to your clients, you are allowing them the opportunity to extend the experience of your session at home, so they can continue to reap the benefits of their sessions with you. By continually adding fresh new music to your library, you can then sell CDs on the spot to your clients, rewarding yourself with the additional income from the sale. In addition, having a few CDs on hand allows you an affordable gift for your very loyal clients on their birthdays or during the holidays.

Adding quality music to your life has several health benefits that extend to your family, friends and even your pets. I have had several listeners tell me that before leaving for work, they turn on my music to keep their pets calm during the day. At first, I thought this was a little over the top, but apparently not. Earlier this year, I received a call from Mailey McLaughlin, MEd, the Atlanta Humane Society's Training and Behavior Coordinator. She was calling to ask permission to use my music in an effort to calm the animals waiting for adoption. Of course, the next day I sent them my entire music library.

McLaughlin began playing the music daily throughout the kennels. I had to admit, I was very curious to see how the animals would respond to their new "soundtrack." After a few weeks, McLaughlin called to let me know I am now "The Official Music of the Atlanta Humane Society." Just like the rest of us, animals can benefit from the healing sounds of soothing music.

Start providing a musical sanctuary for your clients, and watch the positive atmosphere it creates in your practice. If you're attending the AMTA convention in Phoenix, stop by the Sanctuary for a treatment and show your support for the Massage Therapy Foundation.

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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