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  • Joanna.Live

Reb Beach (of Winger and Whitesnake), Healing Music & Never Being Alone

Reb Beach currently plays with two bands, Winger and Whitesnake, and is the longest standing member of Whitesnake, aside from David Coverdale. Reb was previously a studio musician where he worked with acts such as Chaka Khan, Bee Gees, and Twisted Sister, which highlights his tremendous musical talent, and he also has a solo career in addition to his two current gigs.

In addition to his luscious long locks of hair, Reb Beach has a fabulous sense of humor. Being a woman who places a tremendously high value on any man who can make me laugh versus those who make me cry, I can certainly appreciate that character trait of Reb’s. I came across a humorous quote, not by Reb, but by his bandmate Kip Winger that goes like this: “Reb is quite adept at coming up with multiple rock riffs at a time, though he is often unable to remember them later.” That's alright, Reb. We're of a certain age now where we can't remember everything.

My favorite quote associated with Reb came from his lips: “The best thing about being a rockstar is not having to wake up, go to bed, answer to anyone, or sit in traffic. Also, being able to express yourself in a way that few people can, the healing benefits of that are a gift from God.”

What I really like about Reb’s quote is that he’s spot on: music, and its creation, is extremely healing. I'm a retired registered nurse, and I worked for many years as a hospice nurse. As a hospice nurse, I was invited into patients’ homes where I would support them as they were going through the dying process, which was a tremendous honor and privilege. Many times, in an effort to distract my patients from the physical pain that they were feeling, I would often suggest that they listen to music. I would recommend to their family members that they put a music playing device in the patient's bedroom, so that he or she could listen to their favorite tunes.

Listening to music is a tremendous distraction technique. Research indicates that patients who are in physical pain who listen to music on a regular basis require less pain medication than their counterparts who don't listen to music. Music is also used in mental health facilities to help calm patients who experience symptoms associated with anxiety, dementia, and depression. It is also used in rehabilitation facilities to help soothe patients who are recovering from stroke and traumatic brain injuries.

Music is extremely powerful. It has also been shown to lower blood pressure, slow a racing heartbeat, and reduce levels of cortisol (the stress hormone). Some institutions, like cancer treatment centers, employ pianists to play classical music for their patients. From an emotional perspective, music can transport us to a different time. It's very sublime and evokes emotions in us as human beings.

When I went through treatment for cancer a couple of years ago, I was simultaneously going through a breakup, which was not my choice. It took a lot of work on my part to get over the anger and sadness of both situations, and music helped tremendously (including music from both of Reb Beach’s bands). I remember waking up each day feeling immensely fearful about my future because I was a self-employed woman in her 50s who was alone (I don’t have children by choice). I would fret about how I was going to support myself if I became too ill to work. I’m one of those fiercely independent people who does not like to ask others for help, so I constantly worried about where I would end up if I couldn’t care for myself. I loathed the idea of imposing on friends and cousins who all had their own lives, families, and stressors to shoulder. A previous boyfriend (not the one I was going through the breakup with) would have most likely helped, but he had taken his life shortly before my world imploded.

Regardless of the situation, I still had music. Music has been a constant presence in my life since early childhood even though my singing sounds like two drunk wet feral cats fighting in an alleyway, and my ability to play any instrument is laughable. It's just tragic. When I was sick, I had a lot of down time to enjoy music, read about musicians, and watch movies about my favorite bands. I found great comfort in this and was inspired by my music heroes who had faced their own personal tragedies and professional challenges.

What I didn’t realize at the time, but have learned and strongly believe today, is that we are never truly alone. We are always being guided by the universe, God, our ancestors, guardian angels…whatever label you want to ascribe to that energy. I was guided every day during that difficult time to listen to music, which ultimately helped me heal. And today, I’m stronger than ever and attend as many concerts as my schedule and bank account permit.

If you find yourself stressed out, not feeling well, or fearful about your future, play some of your favorite music and notice how your perspective shifts.


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