Since my first album, Healing Journeys (Bone Mountain Records, 1992 – good luck finding a copy today), I’ve been creating music to stimulate the listener’s brain. The techniques I used for this first recording were based on ethnomusicological research I conducted in the 1980’s. This recording was very closely related to some ancient practices I was taught by a Shango healer and a Celtic Shaman (two very different techniques).
After a decade exploring these ancient practices, I began a 20-year path of clinical research examining the core techniques to enhance cognitive function. Since 1994, my institute (Strong Institute) has worked with tens of thousands of people with neurological disorders and helped with anxiety, attention, sleep, sensory processing, communication, and cognition, among other areas.
In 2011 my staff and I successfully developed software to streamline and optimize our custom brain stimulation program, the REI Custom Program. This process, and some long discussions with my wife and business partner Beth Kaplan Strong, gave me the idea to create a streaming music site to deliver our stimulation techniques in a fun, interactive way. After many iterations (and headaches trying to get two synchronized music streams to work), we finally launched Brain Shift Radio on May 18th, 2012.
I’m most excited about Brain Shift Radio because it innovates in three important ways:
Brain Shift Radio lets you control the core elements of the music and mix them to your taste. No one has ever done this before and I’m proud to be breaking ground yet again (in 1994 we were the first brain stimulation company to create custom home-based programs and in 2011 we were the first to expand it to an interactive online delivery system).
Brain Shift Radio is easy to use and learns from you. In Auto Mode you simply choose your brain shift goal and we mix the music for you. As you rate the tracks and provide feedback, we learn your brain type and become better at choosing tracks that work for you.
Brain Shift Radio makes brain stimulation enjoyable to listen to. Most brain stimulation techniques use modulated classical music, which sounds awful, or binaural beats, which are often masked in more awful-sounding nature sounds. Brain Shift Radio contains enjoyable music tracks and lets you set the balance between the rhythm and ambient elements to match your tastes, so you don’t have to suffer while your brain shifts.
Aside from Brain Shift Radio, I’ve released over 30 CDs since 1992. Most of them are still available (or at least its most current version is). My current CDs include:
Calming Rhythms: This is in its 4th version. It was developed out of the first clinical study I conducted in 1994 (you can read about this in the My Day Job tab above). Calming Rhythms has sold nearly 100,000 copies so far and is being used in homes, schools, institutions, and hospitals around the world. It is still our best seller.
Focusing Rhythms: In case you don’t know by now, I have ADHD. I made this CD for me so I could work better. I used variations on this CD forever and kept tweaking it until I was happy with the results. We released the first commercially available version in 2001 under the title, Rhythms for Learning. It was quickly outdated and renamed Focusing Rhythms. This CD is my second most popular recording and is used in the same variety of places as Calming Rhythms.
Sleep Rhythms: Early on we found that Calming Rhythms was really good at helping people fall asleep. It was especially good for kids. But we also discovered that adults sometimes needed something else. Sleep Rhythms was the answer. It contains one track with a narration, played over typical REI rhythms, to help calm your thoughts. There is another track with just the rhythms in case you’re not into that narrative meditation thing. Sleep Rhythms is mostly used by individuals, so you won’t find it in schools. You’ll probably find a few copies in some hospitals but it’s rare, as I’m told that they tend to disappear.
The REI SI Series. This series contains eight CDs designed to help with sensory processing. They are available as a set or individually. I made this set with the help of a handful of our Sensory Integration professionals to use in their clinics while their clients are having therapy. Many professionals also send one or another home for a client to use between sessions. Interestingly, this series is much more popular in Australia than it is in the US.
The Brain Shift Collection. I made this 8-CD set for the publisher, Sounds True in 2008. I was initially hesitant to make CDs for regular people (are there any, really?), but I’m glad I did. It stretched me to think not only about how to use REI for things outside our normal REI areas (calm, focus, sleep) but also to make it more palatable for people with more typical brain function. The problem, you see, was that some people had a hard time handling the pure REI stuff and needed another instrument to modulate the intensity of the rhythms (this is where the ambient instrument tracks come in). The people at Sounds True were adamant that I use these ambient tracks, so I spent a lot of time finding the best way to do this. The result is a set of CDs that I really like. More importantly, though, the process of creating these became the inspiration for Brain Shift Radio.
This brings me back to Brain Shift Radio (impressive how I brought it all back around, isn’t it?). BSR is the perfect format for my music for two reasons:
We learned early on that everyone’s brain is different and each person needs a unique stimulus to achieve the best results. Brain Shift Radio has a ton of variety. In fact, as of May 2013 we have over 150,000 therapeutic combinations of music on the site. I’m confident that you’ll find (or we’ll find for you) mixes that shift your brain to give you the benefits you’re looking for.
I’m very prolific. I’m also impatient (okay, that’s technically two but stay with me here). Because of these traits, I’m always creating new music. And I want it out in the world right away. Brain Shift Radio gives me the outlet to do this. This not only makes me happy, but it means that each time you go on Brain Shift Radio you’ll likely find more tracks to play around with. I hope that makes you happy too.
Wait, there’s a third reason and it’s an important one: I love researching this stuff and I absolutely adore collecting and parsing data. Brain Shift Radio gives me tons of data.
I’m discovering more about how people respond to my music than I ever have. In fact, last year we launched a research program using a Continuous Performance Test (CPT) to quantify how well our focus tracks work for attention. After thousands of tests, we’re seeing significant improvements in focused attention while listening to BSR compared to silence. You can read about this program here.
So, if you’re even remotely curious abut my music, check out Brain Shift Radio. We offer a 14-day free trial, so there is no reason you shouldn’t at least give it a try. Go here to take control of your brain: brainshiftradio.com.
Wait, before you go, there are a few things to keep in mind as you explore Brain Shift Radio:
Keep the volume low. The best effects come from letting the music fall from your awareness as it plays. This gives your brain the most to chew on and keeps you from getting over-stimulated.
Stick with it for at least 20 minutes. It takes a while for most newbie’s brains to adjust to the stimulus, so please give it 20 minutes before walking (clicking) away. It’s best to turn it on and move to something else while it plays quietly in the background. I guarantee that if you let it play, especially when using BSR for focusing, you’ll be amazed at how you feel after a while.
If you don’t like a mix adjust it. This is the beauty of Brain Shift Radio. You can mix the balance between the rhythms and ambient instruments. Most people find the drumming (the rhythm track) to be disconcerting initially. If this is the case for you, move the balance slider toward the ambient track to push the rhythms into the background. If you don’t like the ambient, switch it out. Then adjust the balance to taste. And remember to move on to something else while the track plays in the background.
I hope you take some time to check out Brain Shift Radio. If you’re like me, you’ll find it fun and effective.