Music as Medicine
Lydia Violet

“Music As Medicine In Our Time” is a workshop program I designed that comes out of my 8 years of study with the environmental activist and profound elder Joanna Macy. In these workshops I lead groups through an intimate experience with the Work That Reconnects (WTR), a dynamic, interactive body of work developed by Macy, inspired by her own scholarship in systems theory, deep ecology, and Buddhism as well as more than fifty years of international activism. Through re-invigorating our energy for action and resiliency, this work has helped thousands of people to engage in the Great Turning, the transition to a life-sustaining society and the essential adventure of our time. By speaking openly and honestly about the challenges currently facing our species, and by acknowledging the grief, anger, paralysis, apathy, and fear we may feel, we begin metabolizing these often overwhelming emotions into the profound care for all of life from which they stem. Such metabolization brings us into deeper communion with our world.

Hearts opened by grief and celebration want to sing their songs of longing, despair, reckoning, valiance, belonging, and gentle loving-kindness. Communities have come together to make music for millennia, keeping their spirits strong and nourished through hard times, while also celebrating the gifts of life. Together we hold a space that can heal the wounds inhibiting our ability to make music, learning both technically and emotionally how to free our voices into song. These workshops are open to music-makers of all levels. Singing in a council of friends is one of the most healthful, encouraging, invigorating, and nourishing things we can do.

In past workshops I have partnered with different artists and music groups such as Rising Appalachia, MaMuse, and singer/songwriter Ayla Nereo. We explored songs passed down through generations to uplift and nourish, while drawing from international cultures, the Civil Rights movement, medicine songs, and improvisational experimentation.

This workshop was first pioneered in June 2015 with Penny Livingston at the Regenerative Design Institute in Bolinas, CA. Penny has contributed her own gifts to the workshops, guiding participants to experience their deep connections with Mother Earth, as we combine together the healing interconnectivity of land, community, food for the mind, emotional holding, practices of solidarity, and music. These offerings can be adapted into 90 minute experiential workshops or multi-day retreats. They have the power to nourish our hearts and minds and to keep our communities strong during this pivotal time on Earth.

Lydia Violet Harutoonian began her journey with the fiddle at age 3 when her father took her to their local instrument shop in Pasadena, California and asked her to pick her favorite instrument. From that moment on, Lydia entered into a profound love affair with the timbre and scope of the violin. At age 24 she ventured out from her classical roots and discovered her natural skill for improvisation as well as her unique sound stemming from her Persian heritage and love of music that spans many genres. A musical chameleon, Lydia is able to jump in with a wide range of artists including most recently producers in transformational festival communities. Lydia has recently produced her debut album, “”Already Free,”” a 12-song exploration of music that is inspired by protest traditions, a profound care for community and the Earth, blues, and international folk music. She can currently be seen playing with songstress Ayla Nereo, as well as with Ayla Nereo and David Sugalski’s (aka The Polish Ambassador) sonic collaboration, Wildlight. She has also shared stages this year with MaMuse, The Polish Ambassador, Rising Appalachia, Elephant Revival, HAANA, and many more.

Lydia is eternally grateful for the people and communities she meets as she weaves together her passions for social justice, environmental justice, and music. In addition to her craft she offers workshops entitled, “”Music As Medicine in Our Planet-Time,”” in collaboration with internationally recognized permaculture teacher Penny Livingston at the Regenerative Design Institute in Bolinas, California. These multi-day immersions stem from her eight-year study with the scholar of deep ecology and Buddhism Joanna Macy, who explores how to foster greater internal resiliency and strength in the face of a world in crisis. In collaboration with artists such as Rising Appalachia and MaMuse, these workshops offer inner tools for the cultivation of courage, resiliency and taking heart in our current planetary moment.