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Music for education & wellbeing podcast [37] TRANSCRIPT: Ami Gaston of the International Cultural Arts and Healing Sciences Institute

AH: Hello, it’s Anita here and welcome to this podcast. In this episode, I’m talking with Ami Gaston who works internationally to promote healing and wellbeing through music and activism. She works with organisations such as the US government, United Nations, the American Psychological Association, and her work has taken her around the world to places like Israel, Beirut, Damascus, Palestine, Pakistan, Nigeria and Sierra Leone to name just a few places. So welcome, and thank you for coming, Ami. I’m really looking forward to talking to you.

AG: Oh, thank you so much for having me. It’s great to be here.

AH: To start off with, I cheated a little bit on my introduction, because I couldn’t hope to describe what you do accurately myself. Would you mind describing briefly what you do?

AG: No problem. I know, it’s a mouthful. So my name is Ami Gaston and I’m the founder of something called the International Cultural Arts and Healing Sciences Institute (ICAHSI), as well as the executive director for World Trust Educational Services. And I’m a cultural ambassador for the State Department and Foreign Services Institute. And I do a lot of healing work internationally with refugees and at risk children, youth and families in war torn areas internationally. And nationally here I work with a lot of corporations and nonprofits and university administrations focusing on restorative justice practices, looking at equity and inclusion and belonging and discussing the importance of healing restoratively and how to implement these things, utilising authentic expression through our arts advocacy programmes.

AH: Wow, what a stunning life you must lead and so rewarding and you’re based in California, aren’t you? That’s right.

AG: I am, yes. But I’m also in Washington, DC, where I lived most of my life.

AH: So I’m just really, really curious to know how you ended up doing this amazing work today, and why it’s so important to you personally.

AG: Ah, well, you know, it’s incredible how music is, I think, and it sounds like probably your listeners do, too, that healing on an ultimate level is through this power of music. And the power of letting go honestly, like pain and hatred, and when you’re trapped in a place where you are frustrated and angry, and you feel like you aren’t moving forward or you can’t heal and you’re stuck in fear and in hate. The two parts of your mind don’t work together, and you know, that fight or flight is constantly going and so you’re stressed out, your hormone levels are going crazy. And the way that I found to do and heal through that is through music and that comes from a personal experience when I was actually hit in a hit and run hate crime and it put me in a hospital for over a year many many, many, many months. They felt, I did die, I died when I got struck. I came back and I had horrible burns all over my lower extremities and so you know lying and burning in excruciating pain, and every day, they would come in and tell me that they would have to amputate my legs, I would never walk again. I had to really dig deep for strength because there’s no medication that alleviates that pain. And so the way that I would deal with the excruciating pain was through music. And that’s how I rose above fear and pain and found my voice and realised that to be fearless and dauntless, you had to go through kind of like this literal trial by fire. And so after that,  you know, over 25 years later, I became like a performer and speaker and singer. I was actually a singer at the time as well and really focused on how to help others who are in that place of helplessness and hopelessness and feeling either physically trapped or metaphorically trapped. How to access their truest self, their truest voice, their true authentic expression. And so I started creating programmes like music as medicine, you know, arts advocacy, and taking it into these international spaces in places where people could remember who they were and tap into that understanding that their voice no matter how small it is, is theirs and our life story wouldn’t be complete without hearing what they had to say.

AH: Wow, that’s an incredible story. I’ve got so many questions to ask, so I guess, back-tracking, how old were you when that happened, that awful experience?

AG: A ripe, young, budding 23-year-old, and I had just gotten out of college and had started medical school, and it was like a summer break. And so I was like, I’m gonna go out, and I’m gonna get my music festival on and I’m gonna drum with all of these women and all this fantastic stuff before I started really cranking hard in medical school. And it was then that it happened.

AH: So you weren’t following a kind of musical pathway at the time you were following a medical pathway?

AG: Well, I was following a musical one as well. Like, you know, I don’t know about you, but I know here in the States, your parents are like, you could be a businessman, a lawyer or a doctor, you know, like you have these very limited, at least when I was growing up, you had very limited options with what was considered, ‘a respectable career’. So my parents who are also both doctors would say things like, you can be the singing doctor, you know, you could sing on the weekends, after work for the week. And so it was always kind of truncated and kind of smushed into this on-the-side kind of way of being, but it was something that’s always called to my soul. I’ve always been, I mean, I’ve been in productions, you know, in the theatre, musical theatre since I was in the third grade. When I was in medical school, I was in five bands and like I skipped a medical school final exam to go sing for the president for New Year’s Eve, like so just craziness. Like, like choosing music over medicine a lot. Yes, I’ve always been drawn to music. It’s always been my truest passion.

AH: And so just to sort of take you back and just find out a little bit more about how you made that step after being so unwell for so many months and then moving into, rather than following a medical career, following a musical career, how exactly did you use music when you were poorly, when you were in hospital?

AG: Mmm, it was something that could never be turned off. And it was something that I had to listen to like a mantra and this was back in the day before YouTube had like streaming video you know, music channels, where you can listen to you know, waterfalls, and you know Hang drums for however long you want to, and bamboo flutes. This was before then, this was when we had like, cassette tape players and so I would like, literally put on a cassette tape, or even a little CD and listen to musicians. And particularly this one man, his name is Brother Ah, and he would just chant and pour water from one vessel into another. It was so relaxing to me. And it just transported me from this crushing pain, out of my body into this space where it was just surrounded by sound, this kind of ethereal space that allowed me to rise above all the pain.

AH: Wow. So you kind of curated your own music therapy listening.

AG: Exactly.

AH: At what point did you then decide okay, you know, was there a light bulb moment when you went, ‘Oh, right. Okay, I’m gonna give up this medical training and I’m going to look for a way I can work in music’?

AG: Yeah, I mean, well, you know, it’s kind of interesting. Back in the day music therapy was not a thing. And so when I went, I did go back to medical school, I went back to medical school honey dragging my books on my crutches on a piece of rope like through the hallways. I was a sight to see, can I tell you? And one of the things that really was hard to hear was how the medical profession in Western medicine at that time was saying, you know, because of insurance and costs for patients to be in beds, you really can only spend six to nine minutes with a patient. That’s kind of the golden rule. And as someone who was a patient, I was like, ‘Oh, that is the most horrifying, non-therapeutic, cock-a-doodle way of healing anyone’. Like it wasn’t about healing, it was suddenly industry. And I was like, ‘I can’t be, this is not what I signed on for’. And so I chose, I was like, I need to find the path that’s going to call me to have (a) the most impact for as many people as I can, and in a way that integrates what I’ve learned personally, from the patient’s perspective, from the bowels of the jaws of death. So it wasn’t like, ‘Oh, I broke my arm’. And I, you know, I was really and truly in a place that required me to be in an intensive care unit with tubes everywhere and on life support. And after a near death experience, like coming into a place of really understanding what I needed, and probably what other people needed was not just Western medicine perspectives, because don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t have made it without Western medicine. But I also needed the other aspect as well, complementary medicine, I needed people to do Reiki on me and load my bed up with crystals, you know, I needed all of the things. And when this happened to me, that was not ‘acceptable’. And so every time that I tried to push back against the system, I was told that I was, you know, a rebel, and a vanguard, and I was like, ‘Well, then I will take my rebel vanguard tent and pack it up and go somewhere else’. And I was also really inspired by the Dalai Lama. And at that time, I got invited to sing for the Dalai Lama at this kind of commemorative unveiling of this giant 75-foot Golden Buddha statue.

AH: That’s amazing. I mean, performing for the President and the Dalai Lama. So you were well known as a singer, then at that point?

AG: You know, it’s funny these days, this was also pre-social media, I mean, I felt like I was living with Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble, but I had no concept of who knew what about me. So when I received an email, from the head rinpoche, from the Dalai Lama, saying the Dalai Lama requests your presence, you’ve been chosen from around the world to be one of six musicians to do this. I was like, ‘Baloney!’. I thought it was pretend. I thought it was like we have $6 million to put in your bank. And I was like, I just wrote back, ‘Sure, as you are…’. That’s all I wrote. I didn’t write anything else, like, thank you so much. Nothing. And then all of a sudden, this giant package arrived with henna, it just was gorgeous. It smelled like incense. And so I ran home to my Mom, I was like, you’ve got to open this thing with me. And we opened it up and it was from the Dalai Lama, you know, cordially requesting my presence. I was like, ‘I’m not not gonna go’. This is now, next level beyond if this is trickery, then I’m gonna fall for it. And I went, and when I was there, I got to sing for the Dalai Lama. And there’s this whole funny story about how I did a cultural faux pas. I called him Daddy, I didn’t mean to. In Africa, you know, like when you call a great thought leader, or you know, someone that you highly respect to call them Baba. But in their culture, Baba means daddy, and no one over three years old calls anyone Baba. So when I was like, you know, at the end of my song, I was like, ‘Yeah, Baba Dalai Lama’. And I looked out and like this field of like 1000s of Tibetans were like, rolling in there on the ground, cracking up, and I look over at the Dalai Lama, and he’s cracking up in his seat. And he’s like, and I was like, maybe I’d seen and I thought maybe a bird flew overhead. I missed some moment. And it wasn’t until after when they all ran up to the stage, and they were like, ‘Ha ha, we love when you called him, Daddy’, and I was like, ‘What in the world are you talking about?’. I had no idea, but he said to me, you know, ‘You need to follow your dreams and do music. It’s your calling’.

AH: Wow. So how did he hear about you in the first place? 

AG: I don’t know, I have no idea. You know, they said that they did extensive research. That’s all that they said. I don’t know.

AH: Do you think they were looking for somebody who had a massive experience like you had?

AG: He didn’t know. 

AH: Oh, wow.

AG: No one knew at that point. It had just kind of happened. I had just started walking again not that long after, and there was no forum, there were no TEDx talks, there was no forum to share that on a global scale.

AH:Oh, wow. Before I want to ask you a bit about what your practice involves, but before I do that, just to sort of wrap up this little bit, how did you then get involved with being invited to sing for the President, being an advocate for the US government and United Nations all those major, major roles?

AG: Well, you know, I mean, some of it too, is also like, you know, they say the phrase ‘geography is destiny’, honey, you know, when you live in Washington DC, you’re there, you’re, you’re kind of playing with the players. Now also, admittedly, my mother at the time was the assistant surgeon general. So I was already in these spaces like, you know, I was the speech writer for the surgeon general at the time and worked at the National Institutes of Health, and in NIAID, and all of these places that were already, ‘government structures that were all about health and wellbeing’.

AH: So you had a career then in that kind of space?

AG: I did, yeah, and I, you know, when you’re going to medical school, you have to prepare for a really long time. So, you know, we had, I would work at the American Psychological Association, as a college student, you know, for the summers. And so like, I had these connections in places, but I never, like, utilised them, I wasn’t on the phone with them, like, ‘Hey, I’ve got a programme for you’. But your name kind of gets put on a roster of people to call to perform. And so with the work that I had done, I had also worked with this wonderful person and his national contemporary ballet company called Company I E. And he was a friend of mine, Paul Emerson. And he was like, they’re calling together all of these artists and people to go to amplify Iraqi voices and Iraqi refugees. And I was like, ‘I’m 100% going to do that’. And so we became working with UNHCR, the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, and so we worked with the United Nations to go to Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, to do a cultural exchange with Iraqi refugees and gather their stories and hear what they’ve experienced and how we can be of service. Because by now, as you know, anytime the news finds something new and juicy to report on, people shift their gaze away from some kind of giant traumatic event that might have, you know, consumed them. Similarly, what’s happening with Ukrainians now, even though the war is still happening, people are not talking about it like they were when it first came out. So our goal as cultural arts ambassadors was to go there and then to come back to the States carrying these stories and presenting it to the general populace in an art form so that people would pay attention. So we came back and I composed music for the cultural theatre ambassador, who was a cultural arts ambassador for theatre. So she created a one woman play and talked about her experience and wove in stories and interviews that we did with refugees from there. And I played all these instruments and composed music to go underneath and be a part of that production. And also for the giant, contemporary ballet, National Contemporary Ballet, I composed music for that as well. And so we were doing these performances going around sharing stories. And so then the envoys just continued from there. They saw how successful that particular envoy was. And so they were like, ‘Okay, we need your help in Palestine. Let’s go there. Okay, we need your help in Sierra Leone, let’s go here’. And now that I had my organisation, the International, you know, ICAHSI, International Cultural Arts of Healing Sciences Institute, it was a way to kind of document these experiences and stories that would live on so that people could experience it, even after the live production had ended.

AH: Wow. I have listeners who are music therapists …

AG: Yey, music therapists! Woo-hoo!

AH: … community music therapists, music educators and all sorts of people who use music for social and personal outcomes, some of which are trauma informed, some of which aren’t. But I’m really interested to hear a bit more about what sort of practices and disciplines inform your approach and how you kind of developed or trained your practice?

AG: Mmm, that’s such a good question. Hooray for your show, can I just say. I think that  music and education, first of all, we must band together to make sure that children have music in school, period, end of story. I just think that it is a crime that people do not allocate enough money. I currently am a professor at the California Jazz Conservatory and I’m teaching a class currently, right now called Songs in the Key of Freedom and looking at how protest music informs social justice movements throughout the ages here. It actually really is amazing when you start looking all the way back at things like the the labour movement, the women’s suffragette movement, the civil rights movement, all the different ways that when people were facing serious adversity and marching in the streets when they were going to be attacked by dogs, and by other people and you know, shot with bullets and blah blah blah blah, the music and the chants and the way that you marched through the streets helped give you that fortitude that you needed to weather these unknown fearful storms. And so, to me, social justice and arts advocacy is the key to what ignites my fire. It’s more than just like,  ‘Yey, it’s really fun to sing’. I really do think that we have an opportunity to educate on every level. We can learn about how we, as a species, come together and form communal bonds and how it’s an evolutionary practice. I’m like, you start hearing these studies that have been done. Actually, a lot of studies have been done in the UK, a lot of studies have also been done like here at Stanford University, where they’re looking at how oxytocin is, that’s a, you know, hormone. That’s one of those joy hormones that’s released when people sing live together. So when you join a choir, or when you do these kinds of things, and that’s one of the ways that as a species, we do a shift into another headspace, like it’s kind of a purposeful trance, where people can bond beyond like the mother-child experience. So all of those things, to me are critical to understanding how we will move past the trials and tribulations that we’re experiencing currently to really examine not just race relations, but how we interact with each other, especially with things like people are so absorbed in their own world, in their own phone, and their own headset, and there’s no interactivity. So manners have gone the way of all things as well, like add on top of that a pandemic, a global pandemic, where children can’t see people’s faces and smiles. And we know that that’s so much about how kids learn to interact with one another. So the fear of creating, you know, future sociopaths is real, because everybody’s like, how are we going to make sure that there’s connection and empathy that’s baked into it. And so this is where music and arts come into play again. We must remind our inner ID lizard brains that this is something that is a gift, it is so transcendent. And so I’m sure that your educators there, I know, this is how I, I approach it with students and with clients like this is something that is cellular, it is that kind of vital life force that is seen and yet unseen. It’s intangible. And that’s how I view music.

AH: Oh, that’s amazing. And it makes me think about how music can be valued. I’m actually working on a programme in the UK called Changing Tracks with somebody called Michael Davidson, who’s written a PhD. And it’s based around music and citizenship and how music can help young people to become citizens fulfilling their full potential really in the world, I guess. So yeah, that’s quite exciting to hear you talking about music in those ways, because I think we sometimes forget about it being so deeply powerful. Have you had any sort of formal training, or have you developed your own kind of training or particular type of specific practice because in Community Music, for example, we have to be very careful that we talk about the work as being therapeutic, but that they are not music therapists because that’s a very particular discipline. And I’m guessing you don’t describe yourself as a music therapist, do you?

AG: Absolutely. And you know, it’s so funny too, because like here, you know, I’ve been studying classical piano since I was three years old. But here, it’s a very, like you said, a very specific discipline. And it’s very classically musically based, which, you know, I have issue with, you know, there’s many ways that African drumming is so therapeutic, but it’s not baked into this particular culture’s aspect of ‘music therapy’. So I’m more of an ethnomusicologist. Like, I just gather music and chants from all over the world. And particularly looking at Sacred ethnomusicology, like, where do chants live? You hear about pygmy tribes deep in Central Africa that use their chants to actually access a trance-like state when they’re going on an elephant hunt. And they can be on an elephant hunt and not eat food for almost, you know, a month. How people use music to again, elevate beyond their physical form, and whatever pain they’re going through. That is what I’m interested in looking at. So there isn’t really a programme that exists around that. So I’ve had to kind of cobble together my own studies around it …

AH: In practice …

AG: In practice around it, exactly. And so I’ve become more of a secret song storyteller. So kind of in the tradition of the Griot, that tribal shaman that gathers the stories and the songs and curates it according to context. I go out and I’m speaking to 1000s of people at once about the power of their voice and utilising chant and song and story to gather the people together and hopefully do impact in that way en masse as opposed to kind of the continued individual, one-on-one therapies which are great, you know, like that’s very important to do and when it’s called for it’s called for. 

AH: But we need more people like you who can advocate on a bigger platform because, yeah, there’s a lot of people doing good stuff around. 

AG: Yeah, you know. And so going out like I’ve formed this programme called Broadway Bound with my friend Paul Emerson, I just told you about. And so we go to these places, and we gather together the musicians and people and we have auditions. And we had hundreds of people at our last performance in the Ukraine, we had hundreds of musicians get on stage and sing songs about love, peace, understanding, civil rights, law, all these things like from Rent and West Side Story. Yes, exactly. That pulled together an understanding, and an inspired understanding of why we need to be kind to one another, why we need to practise peace and forgiveness and restorative healing with one another, and we do it through music.

AH: So I was talking about sort of language and terminology, and we get a bit tied up about it don’t we sometimes, and I wondered if there are any misconceptions that people have about your work when you describe it as music for healing? 

AG: Oh, yeah, they do, of course. And I think everybody has their own story about everything. The invitation is for all of us to realise that we all have our special gifts and our authentic way of bringing it to the table. And so labels can trip you up, and you can lose opportunities to connect with people, because they don’t have a label that you are wanting them to have.

AH: We’ve been talking about kind of big concepts and things like that. But I just wondered if you could give me some actual examples, maybe tell me some stories of who you worked with and what it involves?

AG: Let’s see, Syria. I was in Syria. And we went to go see, this was during the Iraqi refugee project that I was just telling you about. I really hope that people realise that in their communities, there are people who have been displaced, and that it isn’t about building a wall between us physically, metaphorically, it’s really about building bridges, which is what all of this is about. So the story is, we went to go see this family. Her name is Salima. And she was trying to get medicine for her husband, who was diabetic. And so part of what we did was bring medicine to her and her family, and also to talk to her about what her life was like being an Iraqi refugee in Syria. And she was just truly deep in her post traumatic stress disorder, and just blink, eyes and face. And she just kept saying, ‘I have no memory, only sadness’. And you know, the people from UNHCR were like, can you tell us a little bit about what you need, what’s going on in your life, you know, they wanted to just kind of gather information in ways that they could help her, they were really trying to be helpful. And there was a frustration that was growing in the room. And so I just started going [Ami sings] and I just started singing like this West African lullaby to her.  She had no idea what I was saying. And she just, her eyes shifted over to me, and I just kept singing, and singing from my heart to her and just really trying to wrap her in love. And she,  one tear came down. And she reached out to me and I kept singing to her. And she invited me to give her a hug. And I held her after, and she started sobbing and wailing, like suddenly, the dam burst, you know, and she suddenly let it go. And she started remembering. She remembered her grandchildren, she remembered her children, she was crying about where they were, they would never be seen again by her. She didn’t know how to reach them. She didn’t know what she was going to do. She didn’t know where her next meal was coming. She was going on and on and on and on about just the weight of what was happening and the aftermath of cultural warfare. You know, like all the things you don’t hear about, you hear about the buildings being bombed. And you hear about people that are stranded and need help, you don’t hear about how they miss home, and how she missed the date trees. And how those dates were never going to be seen again, because those trees have been destroyed and demolished. And how are they going to do this particular festival and all of these cultural traditions and, and ways of life that were gone, because those were gone. And music allowed that opening, and that awakening back into space where you can be all your parts and all your full self because you feel seen and heard through music. Same you know, when I was in Lebanon with these young Iraqi refugee children, they were so used to being in hiding and having to be quiet. Then when I showed up on a bus with a bunch of drums and shakers and bells and recorders, they didn’t know what to do with them. They just stood there holding them like so suddenly they had forgotten what fun and play was because they were in survival mode. So we started playing and singing and drumming and dancing and like after it took a whole day for them to finally loosen up and feel safe enough and free enough to have some fun. And we finally had fun and were screaming and you should see the videos, it’s just amazing to see them go from these frozen, quiet petrified children to having a good time. And that’s healing, that is medicine. That is a way that you have therapy without calling it therapy. It’s just the ‘is’ of living. It’s the remembering of who you are. It’s activating your spirit when it’s been trapped behind just baked in frozen ways of being because you’re so literally petrified that word is so apropos for this kind of work. That’s what I do.

AH: Those are beautiful stories. Thank you. And so it’s clear that because of the people you work with, people, like you know, government departments, Department of Health in the US, USAID that these organisations and the American government do take music seriously. But sometimes for some of us who are trying to sort of advocate hard for music in schools and things like that, it feels as though it’s just really getting harder to make the case for music. So I’m just interested about your experience of that. Do you find that those major organisations that you work with over in the States get music and they’re willing to put the money behind it and the resources and make change to be able to bring music? 

AG: Not enough.

AH: Yeah, okay.

AG: No, no really, not enough. I gotta tell you, I mean, honestly, I mean, that’s why when I say when I get on these platforms, and I can shout from the rooftops, I’m shouting from the rooftops for all of us, because there is not enough money being put in to support musicians, artists, theatre. You know there’s not enough attention being paid to how we hold that secret sauce that is the soul of our … can you imagine life without music? Just imagine if music was not around, we would be in a whole other world, like, talk about apocalypse of the zombies, honey. So we need to pay attention to music, musicians, educators of music, like, as far as I’m concerned, like, everyone’s top of national agenda. How do we stay sane without, you know, over medicating people through pharmacological drugs, you do it through music! I’m sorry, I get really like, really passionate about music and music educators and music therapists and all the ways that we need to allow people full expression and access to their authentic self-voice, a way of sharing their story, their life, their wellbeing comes through these artistic forms. And if we don’t honour them, we will lose them.

AH: How do you advocate for music? What is the best way? What is the secret ingredient for advocating to these kinds of major government organisations and departments? I mean, obviously, you’re really passionate, and you’re really persuasive, and you have lovely stories and I guess that’s your secret, you know that those ingredients together are really persuasive. But I just wondered if you had any other reflections on how we make the case for music?

AG: Yeah, that’s a really good question. I mean, honestly, I mean, for me, I think that there needs to be something where we have advocates on the inside, where they’re like, ‘Oh, absolutely, no, we’ve got to, we cannot have like’, you know. I’m here in California. We just voted. We just did our voting.

AH: Yes. 

AG: And one of the amendments was music for education. Of course it won in a landslide. And they said they were gonna, you know, put millions of dollars into that. But what does that mean? So like having somebody on the inside really allocate it to the teachers, because you can’t have music in schools, and it’s been taught by YouTube video. Like, it needs to be a live person that knows what they’re talking about, to teach kids how to play, how to create, if you can’t teach kids how to create, then you lose imagination. And without imagination, then you don’t access that skill set that allows you to think imaginatively on how to not have a war. Like it does have that kind of trajectory, if you think about it. So places like Google, they have in their, you know, their headquarters, you know, playdough and a trampoline, because they’re trying to shake up the box to get adults to remember how to play and imagine and create things like a metaverse.

AH: So finally, what three tips or insights or learnings would you like to share for others working to advocate for music for education or music for wellbeing?

AG: Yes, I think the first thing is 100%, and it’s gonna sound so kind of trite and random, but believe in your passion. I know that that’s like around the back of a cereal box ad but it’s not it. Like you said with me. I’m so passionate about it, it’s gonna stick in somebody’s ear and believing that your voice, your fighting for this, is enough. You know, even if you have one student, one vocal student, and that’s all you have in your practice. You don’t know who that one student is. And so believing that what you’re doing, even if you just move a centimetre more, every day, you’re making an impact and difference. Okay, that’s number one. Number two, there is something undeniable about the truth of music. It is a healing force that still baffles the mind. I’m part of the International Herbal Society and so we do a lot of like, botany work with music and plants, and listening to the ways that plants sing and talk back to us. The knowledge that we still have to be gleaned from music is vast, it’s kind of like underwater, oceanography, or outer space. What we have right here with music is the next level so music educators, and therapists, fear not, we are pioneers, and not everyone can get with the next level of what we already are tapped into. But music is a force to be reckoned with, and something that we need to honour and keep working diligently towards. Okay, that’s number two. Number three, staying home for time, play music all the time. And know that your visionary role model in the world in your community is sparking change for your communities, the youth around you, the programmes at your school, the way that you have public dialogue and interaction with your concerts, you’re inspiring in ways you will never know. So when you’re feeling depleted and unseen, and unheard, or any of those things, know that you are creating a ripple in a vast ocean that you might not see but it’s having healing effects all around you. And so just continue to believe that you are fostering a supportive environment where creativity and radical imagination are sparking introspection and creativity and, and quelling and addressing people’s fears that you don’t even know. And so know and believe in your voice. And your authentic expression around that. Ta-da, that’s all I got for you. [Laughs]

AH: Wow, those are amazing Ami. It’s exactly, I think, what people need to hear right now, because it’s tough for everybody right now. And I think particularly for people working in music, feeling undervalued and feeling as though it’s a big battle. So thank you so much. I’ve loved talking with you. Your enthusiasm and your generosity of spirit is just such a joy. And it’s so inspiring. 

AG: Oh, thank you Anita.

AH: So thank you so much Ami for joining me today.

AG: Yay, and thank you Anita and thank you everyone for listening. And yay Anita – woo-woo-woo. Keep doing this great show. It’s fantastic.

AH: Oh, thanks ever so much. And if you want more information about Ami and her fantastic work, I will share information in the show notes. Thanks for listening.

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