Sound Of Music For Stressed Managers

Updated: May 27 2003, 05:30am hrs
If music be the food of love, play on. And if it helps melt away the stress of modern day executives, all the better. A recent workshop in the Capital for senior and mid-level managers had an unusual theme: Stress Management & Work-life Balance: A Session through Jazz Music. The objective: to introduce music (specifically jazz music) as a valuable tool in stress reduction.

It had a group of 45 managers learning to relax and unwind while listening to the legendary Louis Armstrong, the mesmerising Frank Sinatra, or more contemporary jazz groups like US-based Tyris. The workshop used jazz as a medium to help executives relax, teach them skills in coping with stress and help develop strategies and life skills to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

After a brief introduction to different forms of jazz, ranging from Early Jazz, Big Band Jazz and Swing, Cool Jazz and Modern Jazz, the workshop had sessions like Feel the music, A walk in the clouds with Latin jazz and Sing your pain away, involving visualisation techniques.

But why jazz, which one would think does not have the universal acceptability of more popular forms of music, or even Indian classical music Explains Assistant professor in organisational behaviour and human resources at the Birla Institute of Management Technology, Prof Ashish Mohan, who conducted the workshop, Jazz has a free flow and improvisation that I feel helps in retaining the feeling of freshness.

It has tremendous energy and creativity. Due to its heavy emphasis on improvisation, jazz music is fresh, exciting, unpredictable and always sounds new. This makes it very absorbing to listen to or play. When one is fully absorbed in this music, it is therapy for the soul and a great release for stress.

Adds Prof Mohan, who is himself an accomplished piano player and jazz enthusiast, I also wanted to introduce them to a new kind of music, to allow them a different perspective instead of the kind of music they are used to hearing. The problem really is that people hear music, without really listening or actually getting behind to the soul of the music. He also suggests serious leisure that involves taking up a hobby or activity, as the best guarantee of long-term happiness.

Prof Mohan has conducted around 5 workshops on similar lines and says, It always amazes me the kind of response I get to this type of music. At the end of sessions I have people coming up and asking me the titles and singers of the music tracks I play.

It is a medically proven fact that music has a tremendous power to release stress. It can be used successfully in curing mental disorders, depression and obsessive compulsive disorders, he says. It is also a medium, unlike other popular mediums like yoga and meditation, that can be used 24 hours a daywhile you are working, driving or even sleeping.

Says resident manager of TCS Satish Koshal, one of the participants in the workshop, I can vouch for the effectiveness of jazz music as a relaxation tool. It has a freshness that is very relaxing. Once you get involved in the intricacies of the music, your tensions just fade away.

Dy General Manager, corporate affairs, Fibcom India U C Agarwal says, The experience has made me realise that music can really make a difference to life. However, the kind of music is irrelevant, he feels, and Indian music could be just as effective. Trying to understand music instead of just listening is the important thing.

The workshop was organised by The IndUS Entrepreneurs (TiE), a global, non-profit organisation dedicated to the advancement of entrepreneurship.