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Flashbacks, Road Warriors, And R.I.P. The “Fifth Beatle”

By Steven Halpern

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I’ve been on the road more in the past three weeks than in the past six months, and I’m tired.  I presented a standing room only workshop at the Conscious Life Expo in LA, and barely had time to eat during the entire weekend. There was always a great speaker or panel to attend, when I wasn’t checking out the amazing exhibitors.
 
This past week, I presented a Friday evening program for the IONS of Tucson (AZ) group, (Institute of Noetic Sciences). IONS was founded by astronaut Dr. Edgar Mitchell about 40 years ago. I’ve been a member ever since. Twenty years ago, I presented a full day workshop at the international IONS conference in Boca Raton, FL. Dr. Deepak Chopra was the keynote presenter.
 
I was honored to perform a short piano composition to begin the awards ceremony. At the end of the conference, I was invited to play a private concert at Dr. Mitchell’s home, on his Yamaha grand piano. 
 
Naturally, I flashed back on those interwoven experiences as I stepped onstage in Tucson. Much to my surprise and delight, there was a seven-foot Yamaha Conservatory grand piano onstage at the Unity of Tucson hall. That’s the same model as the one I recorded MINDFUL PIANO on. I could hardly wait to begin my presentation.
 
You see, the first concert I gave in Tucson, in 1981, left an indelible mark on my memory banks.   That concert was booked at a historic theater downtown. They didn’t have time for a sound check, so I was not prepared for what greeted me as I played my opening arpeggio.
 
A virtual sandstorm kicked up as I hit the keys. I was choking, and covered with dust. This was a case of, “the show does NOT go on.”
 
I stopped, and got up to speak at the microphone, “Is the house manager here?  If so, please bring a vacuum cleaner on stage immediately.”
 
She was, indeed, in the house. But she was offended that I called her out, and refused. 
 
I was offended that anyone would allow a beautiful 1920 piano to be abused like that.
 
The show had to go on… so I invited 12 people onto the stage, had them take a deep breath, and blow the sand and dust towards the stage door.
 
That’s what I remember about the evening. This past weekend, right before I got onstage, a woman named Colette came up to me, and told me how much she had enjoyed that marvelous concert in 1981. Several other folks told me about healings that had occurred.
 
Interestingly, Colette didn’t even remember the sandstorm part of the concert. I learned early in my career that healings and other blessings would often take place during my concerts, regardless of the quality of the piano. It also confirmed that I have an unseen ‘band’ who accompanies me.
 
In fact, at many concerts, psychics and other individuals who see auras would come up to me after the concert and tell me what they saw.  Since I don’t usually see these beings (but I do feel them), I am fascinated, especially when folks all report seeing the same thing!
 
Getting that kind of first-hand feedback has always been one of the highlights of performing in public. The economic exigencies, both of affordable facilities that have concert-level pianos, as well as my own physical stamina, mean that I’ll never repeat the road warrior persona of the first 25 years of my career, when I was on the road three out of four weekends almost every month.
 
I have no idea how the various presidential candidates do what they do, on a daily basis. I’ve done a different city every day only once, on a book tour for Sound Health in spring 1985. It was a killer schedule.
 
I did major media and New Age press, radio, and TV, yet I never spoke to rallies of over 10,000, as both Bernie and Hillary do on a regular basis. In fact, and this goes for all of the candidates, I wonder if they get special foods, high oxygen content on their planes, or secret pharmaceutical breakthroughs. My hat’s off to all of them.
 
First Person Testimonials
First person testimonials, in person, or via email, Facebook, or Twitter, are like gold records for me. It is always an honor to hear how my music has positively impacted someone’s life.
 
Rarely, however, has a physician come up to me outside of a conference setting, and told me, “Your music helped me graduate medical school.  Not only did I listen to SPECTRUM SUITE, but I’d record material I needed to learn onto cassettes, with your music in the background. I’d listen in the car as I drove from Buffalo to Jamestown on holidays.”
 
That was how Dr. Panebianco introduced himself to me, when we met about a year ago at the juice bar at my nearby Good Earth natural food store. Dr. P. is the Medical Director at the VA Hospital in Tucson, and a graduate of Dr. Andrew Weil’s Integrative Medicine program. He is also an amazing individual, who interrupted our lunch, en route to the airport, to save a woman’s life who was having a stroke at the restaurant we were dining at! Watching him shift gears and leap into action was truly extraordinary!
 
For the past 15 years, my music has been made available to vets in a number of VA hospitals through Medcalm, a major content provider to hospitals of all kinds. 
 
The synergy that sparked when I spoke with Dr. P. was exciting. I’ll have more to say about our work together to combine his expertise and mine to combat PTSD among vets. (In case you were wondering, as I was: the VA debacle that was reported in the news in 2014 was at the Phoenix VA hospital, a totally different situation than in Tucson.)
 
I’d like to invite you to feel free to share stories and experiences you’ve had with my music. Facebook, Twitter, and contact links are on my homepage, StevenHalpern.com.
 
On a less happy note, news of Sir George Martin’s passing at age 90 came as I was completing this column. His brilliance in helping to manifest and expand John, Paul, George, and Ringo’s musical visions is widely known by millions.  His genius is even more appreciated by musicians; the “Fifth Beatle” changed the course of modern music forever.
 
I recall that when the Sgt. Pepper album came out, it was rumored that the Abbey Road studio used 128 tracks to record all the special sound effects, the orchestra, etc. (This was at a time when the leading studios had four or eight tracks at most!) Years later, it was revealed that Sir George did it all on only four tracks, bouncing tracks and pre-mixing. Most of my friends simply could not believe it!
 
My personal epiphany in hearing “between the notes” occurred while listening to the extended sustain, and the endlessly shifting harmonics of the very last chord in “A Day in the Life.” No one had ever recorded a piano in that way, so that the listener could get ‘inside the harmonic overtones’ like that. (This was the case whether one listened with or without herbal or chemical assistance.)
 
Years later, it was revealed that in actuality, several different pianos were recorded to create the trippy effect of those shifting sonics. Long before that information was made public, I developed my proprietary pianistic and multiple microphone placement techniques to highlight the symphony of ethereal harmonies that are a hallmark of my grand piano recordings. This approach to mindful, meditative composing and listening reached a new level of beauty in my latest album, MINDFUL PIANO.  
 
Listen with headphones, and I guarantee you’ll be transported to that same sublime place of peace on the wings of sound.
 
 
Until next time,
Remember to listen to the space between the notes.
 
Steven Halpern
 
 
 
Steven Halpern is a Grammy® nominated recording artist celebrating his 41st anniversary as “the most trusted name in sound healing.” His latest releases are MINDFUL PIANO and AMONG FRIENDS:1975-2015: A 40 Year Retrospective, (which is nominated for the ZMR Meditation/Relaxation Album of the Year.)
Read more at StevenHalpern.com,  and watch videos at YouTube.com/StevenHalpernMusic.
 
Steven will be presenting a keynote address at the GLOBAL PRYAMID conference May 13-15 in Chicago