Sep 23

Do-It-Yourself Music Therapy Boosts Your Mood

It’s not just a professional discipline. Most of us can practice a kind of do-it-yourself music therapy.

According to Jeremy Dean‘s PsyBlog, mood management is the main reason we love music. Good thing, as research indicates that music can affect our mood in a positive way:

  • 2003. Youth at Penn State listened to all types of music. “After listening, the psychology students were more optimistic, joyful, friendly, relaxed, and calm. They also were less pessimistic and sad. Music, however, did not entirely soothe the frightened beast in student breasts. After listening, they did not report being less fearful.” (WebMD)
  • 2013. By the end of a two-week period, upbeat music was seen to raise moods, according to scientists at the University of Missouri. Sadder music didn’t help, though. (Healthline)
  • 2013. In this study, even sadder music helped mood. Kawakami et al. found that “sad music is enjoyable because it creates an interesting mix of emotions; some negative, some positive.” (PsyBlog)

Such results, along with an additional body of research, supports the work of certified music therapists. According to The American Music Therapy Association, their interventions work toward promoting wellness, managing stress, alleviating pain, expressing feelings, enhancing memory, improving communication, and promoting physical rehabilitation.

In psychiatric settings specifically, “(m)usic therapy allows persons with mental health needs to: explore personal feelings, make positive changes in mood and emotional states, have a sense of control over life through successful experiences, practice problem solving, and resolve conflicts leading to stronger family and peer relationships.”


I. Jason Mraz, “Living in the Moment”

II. Pink Martini, “Get Happy/Happy Days,” featuring China Forbes and Storm Large (pretending to be Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand)

III. DJ/Producer Avicii,”Wake Me Up,” featuring Aloe Blacc on vocals

IV. The Chickeneers (Jimmy Fallon, Blake Shelton, Chris Tartaro, Nick Offerman), “Ho Hey,” on Jimmy Fallon

Jan 23

Storm Large: Whether to Become “Crazy Enough”

First, a musical based on her life—and a CD to include its songs—and now, her written memoir. The title of all three? Crazy Enough. The performer/singer/author? Storm Large.

I saw Storm Large front the fantastic musical group Pink Martini last summer when their regular lead singer, China Forbes, was sidelined for a spell. One reviewer who’d seen a similar show on their tour aptly stated that Large exhibits an “over-the-top-yet-remarkably-on-point style.”

The book, which was released on January 10th, is described on her website:

Storm spent most of her childhood visiting her mother in mental institutions and psych wards. Suzi’s diagnosis changed with almost every doctor visit, ranging from schizophrenia to bipolar disorder to multiple personality disorder to depression. As hard as it was not having her at home, Storm and her brothers knew that it was a lot safer to have their beautiful but unreliable mom in a facility somewhere. Then one day, nine-year-old Storm jokingly asked one of her mother’s doctors, ‘I’m not going to be crazy like that, right?’ To which he replied, ‘Well, yes. It’s hereditary. You absolutely will end up like your mother. But not until your twenties.’


Maybe you can already imagine what happened next. Besides not actually becoming her mother, that is…

“Knowing” that she would be “crazy” herself someday, she lived on the edge from an early age, growing right into her real birth name of “Storm.” (She also grew into her given surname of “Large,” developing to six feet tall in her early teens.) She did in fact develop a heroin addiction and an eating disorder; and she did in fact develop other kinds of “craziness” and issues.

What eventually saved her in her 20’s? Music.

As told by her book publisher, Simon and Schuster:

…with nothing to live for and a growing heroin addiction, Storm accepted a chance invitation to sing with a friend’s band. That night she reconnected with her long-term love of music, and it dragged her back from the edge. She has been singing and slinging inappropriate banter at audiences worldwide ever since…With tremendous honesty and tremendous dirty language, Crazy Enough is about an artist’s journey of realizing that the mistakes that make, break, and remake us are worth far more than our flailing attempts to live a life we think is ‘normal.’ It is a love song to the twisted, flawed parts in all of us and a nod to the grace we find when things fall apart.

Publisher’s Weekly: “…her memoir boils down to the tension inherent in her relationship with her mother, who used her sickness as emotional manipulation. In her gutsy, shrill way, Large exhibits an engaging insouciance in delving into very real, scary, emotionally weighty issues.”

Kirkus Reviews: “The author’s prose is casual and vernacular, rife with descriptions that are not for the faint of heart. Though not necessarily likable, she comes across as authentic and unapologetic.”

It looks like the most popular YouTube video of Storm Large, by far, involves the song “8 Miles Wide,” which was part of her one-woman show. It’s basically a tribute to her vagina, which her lyrics indicate is only “…a metaphor for [my] super vigantastically mystical feminine goddess core.”

Update, 2022: My selection below, on the other hand, has her performing on America’s Got Talent, in what is one of the best examples of her least out-there-ness: