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Musical Motivations

By: Lauren Williamson
Posted: May 30, 2008, from the June 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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Wanting to get the feeling just right, Feeney worked with Prescriptive Music of Woodland Hills, California, to create music channels that matched the intention zones Canyon Ranch planned for the SpaClub, and Prescriptive Music CEO Allen Klevens says he and his team search for music from all over the world to create a unique sound for each client that matches the spa’s goal. “We want to make sure that when the spa director says, ‘We want X style of music,’ we understand what X is,” Klevens says.

For example, if the director says she likes jazz, Klevens will find 10 to 15 different styles of jazz. “We’ll say, ‘Which of these do you call jazz?,’” he says. “And based on the tracks the director selects, we’ll go back and build a playlist.” He also visits the property, taking into account who the clientele is, what colors are used in the spa interior and how music interacts with specific treatments. At SpaClub, for instance, a seaweed wrap might be paired with the sound of crashing waves.

Music and relaxation

Hanser, a past president of the World Federation for Music Therapy, says the relaxation you feel when you listen to your favorite concerto is no accident. “Music really does affect our nervous system,” she explains. “It goes right to the seat of emotions in the brain, and it brings up memories that we have with this music by activating the hippocampus.”

The hippocampus is the area of the brain that stores long-term memories. Once triggered, it sends signals throughout the nervous system that in turn activate the respiratory and circulatory systems. “We begin to breathe slowly and deeply in rhythm with the music,” she says. “It slows down the heart rate. It’s an anti-stress agent.”

Kathy Pappas, co-owner of Egéa: The North Shore’s Wellness Spa in Evanston, Illinois, considered incorporating music by getting mobile ditigal devices so clients could program their own soundtracks. But she soon found that being taken care of in every way was one of the spa’s primary attractions. “People want to come and just leave everything behind,” Pappas says. “They don’t want to make any decisions, not even on the music. Once they walk in—all the music, the service menu, how it smells—everything is an entire package.”