According to Google, Music Therapy is a method that someone can use to aid physical discomfort by lowering one’s blood pressure, reducing their heart rate and relax the muscles. In terms of mental health, it is a method which reduces stress, as well as other negative emotions and behaviours. The latter is what I can connect with the most because music, amongst a few other methods such as meditation and counselling, was what contributed to the healing part of my recovery from addiction.
Modern-day Classical music, specifically Piano pieces by artists such as Okiem, Phamie Gow and Ludovico Einaudi were played constantly to relax my anxiety and stress during that time. However, the emotive music of Anthony Greninger is what I recall most from that period.
Dreamer, from Greninger’s 2015 debut album of the same name, begins in a timid, vulnerable yet hopeful place. With a simple chord structure and melody, delicately played on the piano, accompanied by a softly performed string arrangement, which eventually leads to an uplifting, heavenly chord progression, increasing in rhythm and showcasing an epic orchestra of violins before the piece comes to a calming close. As a result of listening to the beautifully-crafted Dreamer, my mental state switched from feeling upset and anxious to feeling calm and hopeful that everything was going to be ok, during a time where I had initially felt like I was mentally dying.
Since 2015, Anthony has released an album every year, and I wanted to know if there was more new, therapeutic music on the way and how Greninger has coped himself during this era of COVID.
I had the pleasure of interviewing the multi-talented Music Therapist about his talent, inspiration and much more.
Can you remember the moment you decided that you wanted to compose music to help heal others? Where were you and what was your thought process?
I felt a strong feeling towards helping people with my music after the first track I wrote. During that time, I was experiencing severe panic attacks and depression. It took over my life, to the point I couldn’t leave my house. I found peace when I started writing music because I got to focus on God, which helped me grow the faith that I was going to be able to get through what I was dealing with. Over the years I continued to struggle with the fear of dying because I had so many complications with my body and there was no way for me to find out what was wrong with me because I didn’t have the money to see a doctor. All I was able to do was have faith in God. So when I started writing music, I felt Gods presence and it gave me peace through each and every attack. My music has always been influenced by God and I felt I had a purpose to express his love through music.
Which composers influenced you as a composer growing up?
Music that comes to mind when I was a kid were from video games such as Zelda and Donkey Kong Country. Koji Kondo and David Wise created music that I fell in love with and I still go back and listen to it. As I grew up I found more composers that truly took my breath away. John Williams, Frederic Chopin, Enya and Yann Tiersen.
What is a typical day for you? Is there anything you do to keep your mind calm other than through music?
I love going on walks and spending time outdoors. What once gave me anxiety, now gives me peace. The sounds of nature are beautiful to listen to. I love playing sports like basketball, tennis or going longboarding through parks. And most importantly I pray to keep myself from focusing on the future or reminiscing about the past and reading the Bible.
Has anyone reached out to you during COVID and if so, how do you feel it has emotionally affected these people?
Surprisingly, I have not had many comments about COVID. Some have given me thanks to providing something to relax to in a time of a pandemic. I do know a lot of people that have been very worried about COVID and worried about their family members getting it. It has caused stress and depression among many people and sadly a lot of people don’t have a way to cope with the emotions.
Is there any advice you would give to people during this time of COVID?
My advice is to keep an optimistic attitude. For the bible says “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” All worry does, is create sickness and stress. Don’t let your hearts be troubled in scary times and enjoy the moments you have with loved ones around you. We are all in this together and you are not the only one going through this emotional ride.
How do you think music heals humans?
Music connects with us in a way which words cannot. Music can bring out emotions that you have had locked up for years. Music helps you reflect on your life and gets you to think on a deeper level giving you wisdom. Music helps us to feel like we are not going through rough times alone. It is something truly special.
What is the mental process which someone goes through when they are listening to music? Does it depend on the individual and, if so, in your experience how has someone responded to the healing process?
It truly depends on the person when it comes to listening to music. One person could hear a song of mine and have a completely different point of view from someone else who is going through something different in their life.
How have you personally been affected by the pandemic and how have you coped? Also, how has music healed you?
Thankfully I have not been affected by this at all. I have been able to keep a steady job and do everything that I’ve normally been able to do. I guess the biggest difference is that I have not got to hang out with close friends as much as before which I’m not used to but thank goodness for technology that we are still able to talk and see each other. Music basically was my therapy for my depression because it gave me a sense of purpose and that I wasn’t a failure.
What is the message which you would personally like to communicate to your listeners?
That there is always hope no matter the circumstance that you face. That you can truly find healing, forgiveness, and peace when you seek it. That all things are made possible by having true faith in God.
Which music artists are you currently listening to?
I listen to so many different artists that it’s hard to pick. I’ll just name a few that I had a deep connection too. Alexis Ffrench is an amazing pianist. His melodies are stunning! I love listening to Vitas.
What do you have planned, musically, for this year? Any exciting, new projects we should know about?
I plan on releasing two smaller albums, than my usual full albums, just to keep the music flowing to the world. I have recently bought an instrument plugin that allows me to get realistic string, flute, and horn sounds to my music so your readers can expect to hear higher quality work that sounds more like a real orchestra!