creative:impact - Noting the tones of sound therapy
Creative industries in Washtenaw County add hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economy. In the weeks and months to come, host Deb Polich, the President and CEO of Creative Washtenaw, explores the myriad of contributors that make up the creative sector in Washtenaw County.
ABOUT ROB MEYER-KUKAN:
Rob Meyer-Kukan began his practice in 2015 as the Healthy Musician Institute, LLC serving Ann Arbor’s performing arts community. Offering body work and energy work sessions, coupled with educational opportunities, the mission of the Health Musician Institute is to enhance the lives and practices of musicians and non-musicians alike. In late 2019, the mission became more focused on offering natural health opportunities from massage to sound therapy, Reiki and reflexology, classes and group offerings, and more. So, to match our refined focus we changed our name to 7 Notes Natural Health. Since that time we have moved from our in-home office setting to a two suite office professional setting and are expanding our offerings.
Rob Meyer-Kukan is a Licensed Massage and Sound Therapist practicing in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is a Level III trained Reiki Practitioner, a Reflexologist, and an aspiring Naturopath. He is currently enrolled in a four-year program that will culminate in the title Doctor of Naturopathy. He is the Owner of 7 Notes Natural Health, LLC, a holistic health and wellness practice located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In his previous life, Rob served churches and schools in southeast Michigan for 21 years as Music Director, Organist, and Music Teacher. He still maintains a small private piano studio out of his home, and more recently via Zoom, online.
Rob’s love of the labyrinth was ignited when he was going through a difficult life transition and a trusted friend encouraged him to walk the labyrinth. The labyrinth has always been there in times when life presented joys, sorrows and everything in between. Rob is a Veriditas Trained Labyrinth Facilitator. As part of his work at 7 Notes Natural Health, Rob offers online and in-person labyrinth walks. An area of particular interest is the subject of processing grief on the labyrinth. Rob has lead online and in-person labyrinth walks to support those grieving, especially during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his spare time, Rob enjoys gardening, reading, and hiking in the woods. He is married to his husband, Scott, and they reside in Ann Arbor, Michigan with their five fur-children (2 cocker spaniels and 3 cats).
Deb Polich: Welcome to creative:impact on 89 one WEMU. I'm Deb Polich, president and CEO of Creative Washtenaw and your creative:impact host. Thanks for tuning in on Tuesdays for creative:impact, this segment that WEMU uses to explore Washtenaw County's artists and creative people and the businesses who help make our community a great place for all to create, live, work, learn, play and visit. Rob Meyer-Kukan owns Seven Notes Natural Health in Ann Arbor. He is a musician and a massage therapist. He is also a sound therapist. What's a sound therapist, you might ask? I've invited Rob to the show to enlighten us. Welcome to creative:impact, Rob.
Rob Meyer-Kukan: Hi. Thanks for having me today.
Deb Polich: So, let's start with that burning question. What is sound therapy?
Rob Meyer-Kukan: That's an awesome question. A lot of people ask what's the difference between, like, sound therapy that may get used for medical reasons versus sound therapy that you do? Is it the same? Is it different? And what I like to differentiate is the difference between therapeutic sound and vibration and music that is used to meet benchmark goals versus sound that is used to help you reach a relaxed state where your body will heal. And it's a more natural approach. It's a more gentle approach. And it's a very relaxing process.
Deb Polich: And just to be clear, it's different than a licensed music therapist. Is that correct?
Rob Meyer-Kukan: Absolutely. Yeah.
Deb Polich: And can you explain that a little bit of difference, or is it pretty complicated?
Rob Meyer-Kukan: No, it's not complicated at all. So, music therapists will use music making or music producing or enjoying and moving of music to meet those certain diagnostic benchmarks. You're meeting certain goals, sort of like you would with your physical therapist or your occupational therapist for meeting your goals medically, whereas the sound therapy that I provide is really helping your body in a gentle, noninvasive way to relax and just calm, so that your body can heal itself.
Deb Polich: Okay. And what led you to becoming a sound therapist?
Rob Meyer-Kukan: Well, I've been a musician my entire life, and I have always enjoyed music. I have a degree in music. I've worked in churches and schools. I've been a private piano instructor for 29 years. And so, when I got into the world of natural health, particularly through massage therapy, energy work, Reiki, that type of stuff, adding music therapy, adding sound therapy with singing bowls, primarily, was sort of a natural transition. I got into it just about the time when I was having some pretty major life issues. I lost my mom after a very short illness and almost didn't attend my sound therapy training class because of all of the upheaval in life. And I'm so grateful that I did because it was absolutely life changing, and I came back inspired to share it with others. And it really forged a new path for my life's work and my business--so very deep into me.
Deb Polich: Music is emotive. You know, we've all reached for our favorite music to celebrate, to process feelings like that big romantic breakup or re-experience some happy memories. Does sound therapy touch upon a similar emotional response?
Rob Meyer-Kukan: Absolutely. Sound therapy is not just sort of indicative of recalling memories, but it's also cumulative. And so, you may have experienced the frequencies of the instruments that we're using in your session in one of those favorite concerts or listening to that, you know, heart-wrenching love song that may elicit something that's very similar, if not the same or something similar or the same framed in a new way. Because, you know, life is this journey that is ever-evolving and ever-growing and changing.
Deb Polich: Sure. Sure. You mentioned that you taught music in schools and in places of worship. Do children respond differently to music or sound than adults?
Rob Meyer-Kukan: Well, that's a loaded question.
Deb Polich: Yeah, that's what we like to do here at creative:impact: load 'em up!
Rob Meyer-Kukan: Well, so what I will say is 100%. Kids are like sponges, right?
Deb Polich: Right.
Rob Meyer-Kukan: They're green. They're ripe. They're ready. Whereas, we adults tend to bring preconceived notions, previous experiences, maybe baggage along with us.
Deb Polich: Right.
Rob Meyer-Kukan: Kids don't have the extra burden of that. So, it's beautiful to watch. And one of my favorite things to do is sessions with kids or a group session, a sound bath with kids, because you can just see it all just soaking in. And it's just fabulous. I love it. So, to answer your question: Yes, of course.
Deb Polich: Yes. That's interesting. 89 one WEMU's creative:impact continues. I'm Deb Polich, and my guest is Rob Meyer-Kukan. He's telling us about his sound therapy practice. So, if I went over to your studio on Packard Road in Ann Arbor, what would I see? Describe the studio.
Rob Meyer-Kukan: Sure. Yeah. So, our studio looks a lot like most other professional offices. We actually have two spaces. The one suite has professional offices where you may receive a classic table massage or a one-on-one sound therapy session where you lay on a table. The bowls are placed on or around you, or you're having another type of therapy session. And then, in our other spaces where we have our group events or our classes and that space is a large gathering space, a large event space. We have enormous wall of instruments, including gongs and other hanging things, and the majority of our collection of singing bowls is housed in that space. We have over 150 healing instruments that we use in our practice--
Deb Polich: Oh my goodness!
Rob Meyer-Kukan: Yeah. And we've tried to decorate the space in a way that elicits a relaxed and meditative experience. So, we have some tapestries and colorful things hanging from the ceiling, so it doesn't look so corporate-y office-y.
Deb Polich: Right.
Rob Meyer-Kukan: But we do have a lot of additional things: yoga mats, blankets, props, bolsters, zero gravity chairs to make sure that you're comfortable.
Deb Polich: And do--your clients--do they get to actually use the instruments, or are you demonstrating and doing them all the time?
Rob Meyer-Kukan: If a client is curious and has questions, we always encourage exploration and give people a chance to play the instruments if they want. But most people are pretty into that Zen or bliss state. And so, you know, they're curiosity may be picqued a little bit, but, generally, I'm the one playing. Yeah.
Deb Polich: And what does it sound like? Do you have an instrument with you?
Rob Meyer-Kukan: I do. I just so happen to. I have two instruments. I have a smaller bowl and a larger bowl. And not unlike other instruments, the larger bowl will sound lower, and the smaller bowl will sound higher. So, I'll demonstrate those now.
Deb Polich: Oh, thanks.
Deb Polich (cont.): Oh, that's lovely tones.
Rob Meyer-Kukan: Yeah. Two of my favorite bowls. So I'm glad they get to make an appearance today.
Deb Polich: So, without identifying anyone, of course. Can you give us an example how sound therapy has helped one of your clients?
Rob Meyer-Kukan: Oh, yeah, of course. I mean, everything from, you know, post-surgery type of situations where you've got some maybe tight or pulling tissues that needs a little bit of help relaxing to the emotional distress of having, you know, lost a family member or beloved pet, job. We tend to look at sessions in a very holistic approach here. And so, it's not just strictly physical. So, we will deal a lot with the mental emotional side of things too, and that's where we really shine. So, a lot of grief work, a lot of loss, that type of thing is where we really, really shine.
Deb Polich: So, alternative medicines and therapies have a lot of naysayers. How do you address people that question what you do?
Rob Meyer-Kukan: Have a session. Get on my table. See if it works.
Deb Polich: Experience is all. Right. Sure.
Rob Meyer-Kukan: It sounds really confident and then maybe edging towards cocky, but I always encourage people to give it a try. I myself am a firm believer in alternative complementary medicine approaches to things. I prefer a natural approach myself. But I am always asking show me the data. Why is that? And so, you know, I do a ton of research myself, and I encourage my clients to do it and those willing are interested in working with me to do the research, too. So, we try to provide that information, as well for those who are really looking forward to that. But then, really getting on the table or attending a group event is where it's at for seeing what it's going to do for you.
Deb Polich: Well, Rob, thank you so much for introducing us to this interesting sound therapy. It's been an enlightening conversation, and we really appreciate you being on the show.
Rob Meyer-Kukan: Absolutely. Thank you.
Deb Polich: That's Rob Meyer-Kukan, music and licensed massage and sound therapist. Find more about Rob, his practice, which is called Seven Notes Natural Health, and see some awesome photos of the studio and all the instruments at WEMU dot org. You've been listening to creative:impact. I'm Deb Polich, president and CEO of Creative Washtenaw and your host, Mat Hopson is our producer. We invite you to join us every Tuesday to meet the people who make creative. Washtenaw creative. This is 89-1 WEMU FM, Ypsilanti. Public radio from Eastern Michigan University.
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