When we think about the evolution of music through the decades and the historical legacy left for the generations who listen, what message and effect has its impact left and how can it be used in the world of Coaching?
From the rock and roll of Elvis in the 50’s to the eclectic mix of the Beatles and Rolling Stones in the 60’s, moving to the fierce punk culture of the 70’s onto the new age romantics Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran in the 80’s.
With each passing decade we have witnessed a journey of life through the power of music and with each era a story is recounted through the emotion of memories evoked by a particular song or artist.
By listening to a track, we are able to release an instant library in our heads, remembering what we were doing at that given time or even moment. Our recall will transport us back to who we dated, our location, how we felt and whether its good or bad that joy or pain is relived as real in that instance as it was 5, 10 or 20 years before.
In coaching terms, we describe this feeling as an anchor, a time before that can be recalled in a heartbeat by just one simple tune that will transport us back to that event. So powerful is its influence that many corporations will use this tool in advertising and marketing in the hope that this will help generate sales of its products.
Subliminal undertones of tunes in adverts will be covertly accessing the consumer’s brains enabling them to remember the product after the advert ends and encourage sales. There are deliberate choices of music to influence why we buy, take the example of punk culture and Johnny Rotten, when we hear Anarchy in the UK, we immediately feel rebellious, maybe adventurous enough to try something different, buying without deliberation and to hell with what anyone thinks. Take this a stage further to consider that the power of this musical influence could make us act impulsively and also gain the courage to act completely out of character. Telling your boss where to go, dumping a partner or on rare occasions carry out activities that are entirely inappropriate, are not unheard of by the evocation of music on our emotions.
So, if music can manipulate us to make purchases or act out of character then in contrast consider how music can encourage us to make life changes. Coaches have recognized the impact of using anchors that evoke positive messages within our brains, lifting our spirits and fuelling our bodies and minds with hope for the future.
A classic example is the theme to Rocky movies, an iconic tune so instantly recognizable that as soon as we hear “ da da… da da da.. da da da da da”, we release the thoughts of winning against all odds and of how the underdog always comes out on top. This theme tune has been used countless times to sell, even the actor Sylvester Stallone has admitted that this character is his most successful of all time. Just one look at his picture can anchor that tune within our minds.
We use the power of music every day without even realizing, accessing and comforting our emotional state. With this in mind the world of Coaching, has recognized its power as a tool to develop and help move their clients through a process in their personal journey.
Coaching clients through a variety of challenges, such as quitting a habit, gaining personal strength to cope in any given situation, looking to move forward in their lives or develop employment strategies has been helped enormously by using positive anchors like music to encourage faster results and less relapses.
Coaching using music is an incredibly powerful tool and a relatively creative and new concept in the UK. Using a soundtrack during a portion of a session to actively highlight and listen to, or play very softly as background noise in order to be taken in subconsciously, is a matter of client choice or a strategic decision to enable fast and lasting results for the client.
Music anchors in coaching have found greater appeal in youth coaching as the power of a song can break down barriers, relax and gain the trust of a nervous adolescent faster than talking alone.
The overriding consensus is that music is powerful; it heals even when it hurts, the catalogue is exhaustive and the list of memories made is generational. As a practitioner, it is without doubt a window to allowing people to open up quickly and one that transcends age, gender, race or nationality. I am constantly overwhelmed at the results it produces alongside normal coaching methods.
“ Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” – Plato