Hello and welcome back to the Foresight Strategies Show. We have a really, really awesome guest today. Today we’re going to be talking to Dr. Alice cash. She’s one of the world’s leading clinical musicologist. She holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in piano performance. She has a master’s in social work and a PHD in musicology. In 2005. After 15 years of doing research and clinical work using music with surgical patients, she had an idea. The idea was to create cordless headphones preloaded with the perfect music for patients having surgery in 2008 Dr. Cash receipts to US patent for her proprietary process for choosing the perfect music for the Peri operative period 2018. These headphones are now being used in hospitals around the world. So we want to welcome Dr. Cash. I’m excited to have you on the show because I think this is a topic that is probably very, very rare. Your background is fascinating. So I’m just really excited to have you here. Very happy that you’re a fellow social worker as I am. Also a future is. So you’re a fellow futurist, and this is incredible. I love it. So my first question, what made you even think about creating a preloaded headphone?
Love to tell you all about it. I had been using originally cds with the Walkman with patients, in the early nineties. I was working at a hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. And I realized that many people were scared to death about their upcoming surgery and afraid they wouldn’t wake up and the anesthetic wouldn’t work and they would feel it and nobody would know and all of that. So I was creating, well originally I was actually creating tapes for people the set types. And I had the Walkman and I would put together a playlist of their favorite relaxing music. Then the farther I got into it by the late nineties, I was thinking instrumental music is probably better than songs that have lyrics because they start thinking about the words and they started thinking about things that could be not that relaxing. So how about let’s just use instrumental music. And originally it was mostly classical Pachelbel Canon and some of the beautiful Bocca Adagios and Baroque Adagios. And I had this idea originally to make a set of cds that my hospital could market internationally as the Jewish hospital, east cd for surgery and then just market at all around the world. But people really surprisingly did not get it that much. So I just kept doing what I was doing, creating cds for each surgery patient, and then I went to this wonderful workshop that was put on by NSA, the National Speakers Association. They had an event in 2005 that was called Ken Kuhn University. And I thought, Oh, I definitely need to go to that. So it was a university where you could major in minor in one thing and it was just a week, but they had some of the biggest names in marketing and internet marketing especially. And so my major was product innovation and my minor was internet marketing. So my teacher in the product innovation was a man named Don Booty and he was an inventor in Phoenix, Arizona. And he said, I want you all to think about something very simple, but this solves a universal problem. And he said, for example, think of the guy that invented the cardboard collar for hot coffee. He said, that guy’s probably retired on the beach by now because everybody gives those cardboard collars and they probably cost less than a penny a piece. But they’re very, very useful and there everywhere now, so he said, go back to your room tonight and think about what you could do. Well immediately I was like, music for surgery and within the very first hour I thought what about some headphone that would be waiting at the hospital, it would already have the soothing, steady, relaxing music on them and as soon as the person arrives the morning of surgery, they would just hand them those headphones. So I went back to the class the next day and I said, well, how do you think that would be? And he said, Alice, sounds great to me, but you need to go now and do an internet search and see if anybody has already done that. So I went back that night and I did the search and I discovered as far as I can tell, nobody else has ever done that. So he said, okay, then you filed for a provisional patent. So of course I had to hire a lawyer to help me do that. And that was probably fall of 2005 after I had gone to this Canyon University in January of 2005. In October of 2008, I got the patent. Even thoug it seems like a long time. But it flew because in the meantime I was beginning a music and surgery blog and I was learning about how to do twitter, all of my information there and just getting the word out with social media every possible way I could. So after I had gotten the patent in October of 2008 I went to the University of Louisville School of Engineering and I’ve talked with a professor of micro nano technology and he said, Alice, I think there might be something on the market already that you could use. And he said, if you have a headphone built from scratch to your specifications, it’s gonna be $20,000. So I did not have $20,000. So I finally found one headphone online that had a built in MP three player. So then I had to find my proprietary music so it would play cordlessly and had a lithium battery in it and you just connected to your laptop and drag and drop your proprietary music. So I had put together a playlist of lesser known classical piano pieces because I thought if somebody knows Claire de Lune or Moonlight Sonata or some very familiar piece of music and they happened to have a negative association with it because they played it on their recital in the eighth grade and had a memory slip. You do not want to be hearing that when you pushed into surgery. So I chose all classical miniatures that were lesser known. The average person would not know those and they were all in public domain. So my proprietary list has nothing by anybody except me. I mean I’m playing it and other people are, I don’t have to get by the rights in other words. So I started out on a shoe string because that’s all I had. So I bought this headphone online. I bought like a dozen of them and I wasn’t sure how to price them. But I priced them so that they will be affordable, but also so I could make a profit. And I started selling them right away and did that. I got a big order from the Va Hospital in Louisville and they also said, would you like us to do a study on this and see if it reduces opioid consumption? See if it reduces anxiety and things like that. So they did do a study and it showed that it reduced pain perception by 20 percent, which is huge. So that if you have less pain perception, you’re not going to be asking for more opioids. That’s potentially addictive.
So are there research studies from leading medical institutions on the benefits of music through headphones?
Yes, there are probably hundreds of studies, especially on the use of music before, during and after surgery or during the perioperative period. But quite a few of them more recently have said headphones are best. And there are studies from Yale, from Mayo Clinic, from hospitals around the world, reputable hospitals that say this is an easy intervention, everybody should be doing this because the benefits are powerful. And yet it’s very simple. You’re not introducing any chemicals into the body, you’re not using any sort of equipment that is expensive or dangerous. This is something that the nurses can do in the hospital. And then the patient can be taught to continue this once they get home.
And now the rate of the patient, like how fast are they recovering? What was the outcome, like, can you give us like a ratio?
Yeah. Well it’s not quite that cut and dry, , it’s more of an anecdotal report after the fact when they send out a patient evaluation, the patient says, Oh, this music has been wonderful. I lay on my couch in the afternoon and listened to it all the way through. Or I listened to it in the morning after I’ve gotten up and had breakfast and it just calms me down because I have so many things I’m worried about with this recovery and time I’ve missed off from work and things like that. So. And that merges into the last question. So when I got a new business coach, he said, Alice, you need a model that is less expensive that the patient can be given at the hospital and send them home with this headphone in the music just like you do your fuzzy socks. Except they’re much more powerful. I mean they have a medical benefit, not just a comfort benefit, but they also have the comfort benefit.
So then like I’m fascinated by this. So when they when the patient comes in, is the purpose of the music to relax them? Does it even help with anesthesia? Do they find that they’re giving less anesthesia. Do they find that the client or the patient reacts better?
I would say the most, the easiest first benefit is taking anxiety way down because when they arrive at the hospital, if they don’t have the headphones, the heart is beating really fast. The breathing is shallow and rapid, like when you’re having a panic attack or something. And I have seen people put them on for the first time and they’re like this is great.
Okay. So I know that you have a music background and clearly you’ve always loved music. But what would be, do you make that connection between patients, surgery, music, and how did you come? Because there’s a lot of musicians out there.
Okay, well I think probably the biggest factor was that when I got my phd in musicology in 1990, I was offered this fantastic job about nine months later or four months later at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, division of Arts and medicine. So I was plopped down into an arts and medicine program and I was the music person. So I was given access to all of these wonderful books and people. And the books were about music therapy and see, I’m not a music therapist because I don’t have a degree. You have to have a degree in music therapy and music therapy. The difference between that and music medicine, which is what I do, is that there is not a music therapist involved with every single person that uses my headphones and in a way that’s a plus because every hospital and every alar cannot have its own music therapist all day long and most hospitals have at least 20 floors going all day from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM. But that the nurses can be trained how to turn on the music, how to adjust the volume, how to place them on the patient’s head. And then after that the patient is in charge of them unless they were unconscious or in a lot of pain or something. But that’s why I realized after I got started that I needed to be marketing to hospitals really more than patients. So now I’ve marketed to both of them. If you find out you need to have some sort of surgery, you can instantly go to my website right now and have them overnight it to you or you can call the hospital and say, do you all provide the music headphones for surgery the cordless ones?
What are some of the surgeries that they’ve used your headphones for?
Oh, I’m so glad you asked me that. One of the best is joint replacements because of a knee replacement, hip replacement, shoulder replacement. They have drilling, sawing and hammering. And a lot of times they do not put the patient all the way out. They give them something like Versed which is a hypnotic so that they don’t remember it, but they are not completely out because they need to talk to them. But when you have the headphones on, you can still hear the doctors and nurses ask you a question, but you don’t hear the other noises or greatly muffled and you don’t hear the conversations that the doctors and nurses are having where they say, oh, this is worse than we thought. Patient doesn’t need to hear that.
So if I were ever to have the hip surgery, I would ask for that. Or is that provided freely in hospitals? How exactly does that work?
Well, you’re going to have to call your hospital and ask if they have that for surgery patients and if they don’t then you have to order one online for my company and it’s $97 for what we call the patient model, which is the one that sent home with the patient. Some hospitals choose to buy what we call the hospital model, which can be reused between patients because it has disposable earpiece covers and you wipe down the band with the antibacterial spray and it can be used unless the person has a greatly suppressed immune system like the HIV patient or something.
So this is fascinating. This is so the way of the future because of the reality is that it’s not just the actual music therapy, but you’re actually using it in a way that it’s genius. It’s absolutely genius. Again, it’s not something that the average person would think about. And yet you were able to make that connection and that’s huge. So I know that you said you told me privately before this, that you also do therapy, so you also have clients. How do you use the music therapy in that therapy? Which I know is must be amazing.
Well, it’s very powerful, especially in relationship kinds of counseling where somebody is just broken up. I mean there are so many songs that every couple associates with their relationship, you know that the music that you fall in love to, the song that you first danced with that person to, you have your song. So sometimes we have to rewrite the words like I’m sure the Song Desperado yes. And a lot of people have strong associations with that about come to your senses and all of that. So sometimes we rewrite song lyrics, we play it in session and talk about the feelings that come up, the memories and how we’re gonna create some new memories that will take the sting out of those associations. I mean, doing that in conjunction with something like EMDR, I’m sure it would be powerful now I don’t do EMDR, but I believe in it. Doing some of those energetic therapies along with the music, but I also do a lot of chemical dependency counseling and people who are just getting into recovery from drug and alcohol addiction music can be very, very powerful with that. And grief, processing grief with music, hymns, songs that, that person really loved and that some of the ways that I use it.
Okay. So you use this in your sessions and people could also buy. So if somebody is grieving and music I think that’s pretty awesome. So they can use this music, they would have to buy that from you so that they can continue the therapy on their own. Is that accurate?
Well, I mean theoretically that could happen. Usually we do all of the music listening in session and not with headphones, just with the CD player or I mean if they put together a playlist that’s the favorite songs of the person that just passed away or something. I mean there are a lot of different ways you could do it, but usually the headphones I just use with people in surgery, but I take that back. I had a lady who came to me for serious insomnia and she actually bought one of the surgery headphones and use that music. Just to her insomnia and she said, Alice, I got the first good night’s sleep in two years. That
Yes, that would make perfect sense.
Let me ask you this. So would you find that you do music therapy or music medicine?
Well, I cannot say that I do music therapy because I’m not a music therapist and they are very strict about that because they believe that music therapy is only one on one work with the client and that playing music for people in a recorded way is not music therapy. It may be therapeutic, but that you can’t say that that’s music therapy unless you are a music therapist.
Because what you’re actually doing, so I know again, I’ve had my surgery, nothing major, but I’ve had surgery and I would have definitely I would have loved this music and I’m not a fearful type person, but it’s really is a whole different experience when you’re on your back and you’re walking into a cold room that they’re gonna pretty much put you out and then open your guts. And I’m not a fearful person, like I’m not the person that lives in fear, like I’m pretty good and those circumstances are not comfortable.
Another area that’s so common is dentistry. I mean nobody wants to go to the dentist and that drill and your on your back in a totally helpless position. A stranger right down in your face, drilling on you and you’re waiting for pain to strike. And I mean, it’s a horrible experience. So anything I can do to help dental surgery people that I would love to do.
That is the first thing that I thought of when I heard of the headphones and the music, I was like, Oh wow, that would ease my pain as I think mentally more so at a dentist I didn’t think in a surgery.
A cavity, just having a filling it would be helpful and a lot of dentists seem to have like a radio playing on a shelf. My dentist used to have a TV on the ceiling and a TV in the corner and he would have sometimes travel logs or things that just sort of distract you. But I think when you have music, if for some reason when you’re listening to music through headphones, you want to close your eyes and when you close your eyes you just start let go of that tension. It just starts melting away.
You actually, you drift. I agree. So really I think this needs to be something that has to be implemented in almost any, I want to say compromising situation that may be medical, that can be. There’s so many different areas that this can be used because it’s fearful and I think that the idea is amazing. I think, like you said, that music is very relaxing and it changes. It just brings you into a different world whether you love the music or not. Because for me heavy metal endlessly increases my anxiety. So there’s. So the music really does. You have experiences with each of these music types. So I think this is excellent. It’s something that should definitely be more available everywhere. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So in a case like this, how do you market, and this is probably more Rachel’s question.
Yes, I would love to address that because I started out, I have an easy and if you remember when easy used to being really popular in like 2001, I started one that and I have another website called healing music enterprises that I don’t think I’ve sent you all the, the main one now as surgicalserenitysolutions.com. But before I even went to Cancun, I sent out an easing every month and I had a mailing list. And so that was my beginning marketing. Then once I began to understand about the power of Facebook, I have a page just for surgical serenity and I have a Twitter account that’s just for music 4 number four surgery at Twitter. And now I have Instagram and when I go out to speak, I am a speaker. That’s why I was born to a national speakers association. I market myself on my page as a musical surgery, music through the lifespan lullabies and mother baby bonding, music for memory care. And so I do blog posts, tweets, Instagram, all of those things. But basically I use all the free ones because I don’t have any budget for marketing.
So you basically market yourself as the expert.
That’s excellent. So let me tell you a little story. A friend of mine had her mom in a nursing home who just sadly very recently passed away and one of the things was she had Alzheimer full blown dementia and she found when she learns was when she would come in and she would play music for her mother from the old Boleros, Spanish Boleros. She says that her mom would like open her eyes and she says that she made a connection with that music. One of the biggest problems that she had. And maybe here it goes for you. You can probably solve this problem. What are the biggest problems that she had was that she can play the music while she was there. But when she wasn’t there anymore, the music wasn’t played. So she really believed that, she didn’t think her mom would make a drastic change or get 100 percent better. But she did see a difference even in her agitation. She said, I don’t know, she’s in pain or uncomfortable, but I see a difference when I played the music. So that’s another amazing market.
Well it is. It is. And people have asked me because there’s been a lot of in the news about Alzheimer’s patients that come to life when they put headphones on and play the music of their courting years and that’s what we say in the literature for my music with memory care cd, that it’s the music of a person’s courting years, that when they’re elderly, that is the most powerful music because it takes them back to a time of their life when they were healthy and they were falling in love and they were going places. And I have a similar story, but I’ll tell you, I went to do a talk in Hawaii and I was in Maui at this wonderful place called the Ohana connection. And Ohana means family and after the lecture was over, this man raised his hand to ask a question and he said, my mother has Alzheimer’s, she’s 90 or something. Every morning when I walk into her living room, she smiles and I say to her mama lead Hula, and they get up and they do hula and that’s what makes her happy and relaxed and forget about her infusion and stuff. So it’s whatever your background is that the music that you grew up with, the dances that you grew up with, that’s what’s important to have. And I’ve already told my kids, bring me the Beatles, God forbid, that happens to me, here’s what I want to be listening to.
Right. Makes Sense. So were going to be ending here. I want to thank you so much, for sharing this information with us. This is great information. I know. Again I love, I really enjoyed it and they think you’re totally onto something. I love this. And again, as a futurist, as a doctor of medicine and music and social work, you’ve done a beautiful job of merging at all and it really enjoyed this and again, we will let them know. Do you have a book? We can put that information.
I’m working on one right now.
Okay. Well you let us know when your book is ready and we’ll have you back to talk about the book. Thank you so much. Okay guys, so we will see you next week. We’ll be back again next week with more information, another futurist with more information on things that really apply to you and your business and your career in your life. Okay. Until then, we will talk then and I’ll see you guys. Bye.
Dr. Alice Cash is one of the world’s few clinical musicologists. She holds Bachelors and Master’s degrees in piano performance and in Clinical Social Work, and, a Ph.D. in musicology.
In 2005, after 15 years of doing research and clinical work using music with surgical patients, Dr. Cash had the idea of creating cordless headphones, pre-loaded with the perfect music for patients having surgery.
In 2008, Dr. Cash received a U.S. Patent on her proprietary process for choosing the perfect music for the perioperative period. In 2018, these headphones are now in hospitals and clinics around the world.
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“Taking Musicology to the Next Level and Beyond”