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The Healing Concert
An article about Janalea's Healing Concert

The Kansas City Star

A concert with a PowerPoint presentation?
A concert where everyone goes home with a free CD?
What is Overland Park music therapist Janalea Hoffman up to?
People will find out tonight at her “healing concert.”

Music, with all its therapeutic properties, has been Hoffmanʼs life mission for more than 30 years in the music therapy business.One of her projects, called Sounds of Comfort, takes her into hospital rooms at Shawnee Mission Medical Center, where she and other musicians play at patientsʼ bedsides. 

Over the last three years Hoffman has presented more than 30 of her “healing concerts” at medical centers, churches and various public venues, for cancer patients, medical personnel and the general public. Tonightʼs concert, a fundraiser for Sounds of Comfort, coincides partly by design with the beginning of the stressful holiday season.

“I just think people need to take care of themselves during the holidays, and this is one way to do it, to start to de-stress and learn some information about how to deal with your stress,” she says. We talked about the concert with Hoffman in her southern Johnson County studio, Rhythmic Medicine.

Q. First of all, what is a healing concert?
A. Well, it is very unique. Usually when you go to a concert itʼs kind of a passive listening experience. Youʼre sitting there, and youʼre thinking of what youʼre going to do later or whatever else is on your mind. A healing concert is part concert, part music therapy experience, part educational. I have a PowerPoint that I give about how music affects the brain. Thereʼs music that affects us physically, emotionally and spiritually, and I talk about each section beforehand so people know what to listen for. 

Sorry, you stopped me when you said PowerPoint. I donʼt think most people expect to see a PowerPoint presentation at a concert.
OK, well, that is very minimal. Itʼs not like Iʼm going to lecture a lot. There will bejust a little bit of information so you know how to listen more actively to the musicand have it be more healing. All of us are on a healing journey of some sort. Weʼve all needed emotional healing, physical healing at some level. I talk about how music fits into that.Thatʼs what people want to know: How can music help me?

Q. How did you come up with this concert format?

I have developed, over the years, techniques that I teach to a lot of health care professionals. But then I started doing the bedside music in hospital rooms, and that was really powerful. And yet, Iʼm thinking, itʼs very labor-intensive, too. So I thought … wouldnʼt it be great to have this concert for a bigger group ofpeople so that a lot of people could benefit at one time? 

Q. So what kind of music will we hear?

Some of itʼs classical and some of itʼs popular. Itʼs all live. We have a concert harpist who brings her giant concert harp. A lot of our concerts we do in small settings, and to have this giant harp up there — you really feel the vibrations. And then we have a violinist from Poland who is fantastic. He has played in Carnegie Hall and is getting his Ph.D at KU. … We also have a singer. … And I do a little bit of native flute. 

Q. Iʼm sure that there are people who will read this story and think, “A healingconcert sounds kind of woo-woo to me.” How would you encourage themto try it?

We have a CD called “Musical Biofeedback.” Itʼs music at a certain rhythm to slow your heart rate and (lower) blood pressure. The tickets for the concert are $20, but weʼre offering to give people the CD free if they come. We really have a mission to get this out about music therapy and how music can be helpful. And sometimes, you have to do something to grab peopleʼs attention.