No other composer has set out with the same intent that drives John Levine. Trained originally as an electronic engineer and then as a classical composer, John has also studied psychology and the physiology of hearing. He read about the discovery by Dr Hans Berger, of how the brain emits electrical waves, which rise and fall in intensity depending on our mood. These waves, whether in the brain or being emitted into the air, are measured in Megahertz (MHz) and scientists. After considerable experimentation, John established the pattern of sound that predictably invites the brain to settle into alpha state. This is a calmer state than the excitable peaks and troughs, known as beta, which contribute to feelings of anxiety.
While beta has its purpose, it also interferes with our ability to stop, take stock and work out a better long-term solution to a stressful situation.
At university Levine became deeply interested in meditation. He studied at the Sydney Transcendental Meditation Center and then pursued a wider, more varied understanding of meditational practices. Alpha Relaxation with Jacob Bloom, Systematic Desensitization Relaxation Techniques at the University of NSW, Mind Language with Robert Murphy. The more he learned, the more certain Levine became that he could write music deliberately aimed at stimulating the brain to produce the waves we need to function at different levels. For instance, when we want to intensify concentration, retain information and study more productively, we could listen to music that "makes" the brain operate at low alpha-high theta level, optimum for the job.
Based on this, and incorporating his musical knowledge and creativity, John developed Alphamusic as an effective tool anyone can use to cope with stress and anxiety. Encouraged by his discoveries and egged on by friends, Levine wrote, played and recorded a 60-minute composition he called "Silence of Peace". It's a strange title until you consider the amount and volume of "chatter" that crowds our brains every waking moment and how we might feel if there was less inner clamour.
Levine suggests that four minutes into listening to "Silence of Peace", our brain waves may "notch down" to alpha state. This is the same mental calm and freedom we enjoy when we first wake from relaxed sleep. Quite a claim. But tantalising for anyone who battles to balance the sensory and emotional overload of our urban lives! Levine named the rebirth of his musical career Alphamusic, to signify the importance he places on alpha waves. The brain produces alpha waves when our mind is completely relaxed, for instance, as we awaken from deep sleep, or when we meditate. In this state we are most likely to have our most creative insights and experiences.
In the course of 2004, he collaborated with Australian psychologist and journalist, Dr Amanda Gordon, to create a series of five, guided relaxation CDs called „The Armchair Psychologist Series”. It is hoped this work will help to lower stress in both parents and adolescents.
With great joy, Levine now fosters his passion for working with people. In specialised workshops, he draws together meditation and music to assist teachers and students at all levels, from kindergarten to university. His delivery is tender, candid and highly personal, with content tailored to meet the needs of the group he is leading.
He shows nursery school teachers how to use Alphamusic to calm their kids. With glee, he tells of a phone-call where a teacher reports that one of her 3 year-olds independently chose a John Levine CD and placed it in the player because, said the little one, the class needed to "calm down"!
At St Matthews' Primary School in Cambridge, his music is played during all Math's classes, as well as during exams. According to their headmaster, the school plans to adopt this as a general practice.
"My wish is to help the greatest number of people through the healing powers of music."
John B Levine