Comments From Users

Feedback from users around the world has been fantastic. More and more of them say they can no longer imagine working without a Sounding Bowl. On this page I offer some of the comments from previous customers. Here and there I have abbreviated comments [ ~ ] but I have not added anything to the words used. I have more letters from music therapists and healers in all fields describing how relationships in Sound healing, Hospital therapy, personal meditation and other applications have all benefited in remarkable ways from using a Sounding Bowl.

Here is a little taste:

“I regard the Sounding Bowl as essential to my work in palliative care. It's sensitivities as an instrument, the beauty of it's shape and texture of it's surface all add to it's personal qualities that are recognised and used to great effect by all people who play it. I use the Sounding Bowl at many levels from relaxation sessions through to delicately balanced work with people who are nearing death.~ Beautifully crafted and powerful instruments.”

(Dr Colin Lee RMTh in the book Lonely Waters)

Beloved Tobias Blessings and love to you. Today in Alice Springs, Australia a friend came to visit and asked if she could play her sounding bowl to which she toned most beautifully It was heaven space created immediately and straight to the heart and I do not have words for what I felt and so I asked Jane (Coleman) for your address and she gave it to me and I just wanted to thank you for your creation which is in the world and is truly an inspired gift to the NOW in this powerfull time of transformation.

In love and gratitude

maryandalan PeLoHa all ways.

A collected report from a therapist in Gloucestershire

“Working as a therapist I work with music and movement, and the instruments I am using are mainly Sounding Bowls. I work with adults with learning difficulties, children with complex needs and also as a volunteer with people who are dying or who are living with life limiting illnesses.

“One of the boys, Nigel, 9yrs, was described to me as throwing all items in the class room off the shelves, moving or throwing chairs, undressing, urinating and occasionally defecating in the class room, kicking, screaming, spitting and scratching before he arrived for his first session. He would make sounds, maybe use occasional words without detectable context but not be able to express the nature of his distress. In preparation for Nigel’s arrival all wooden and mechanical toys had been removed and cushions, blankets and a range of soft toys been left in the room.

Nigel entered the room and stepped lightly to the opposite end of it turning round and finding a beanbag on which he made himself comfortable. During those short moments I unpacked a pentatonic Sounding Bowl and began to play one string. Nigel looked very alert and surprised and buried his face in the beanbag. I explained that I would play some more for him and that it would sound similar to the first sound he had heard. I continued playing another few strings and Nigel carefully peeped through his fingers at me playing the bowl. After a few minutes he completely relaxed and made himself comfortable watching me on and off. Nigel remained relaxed and at ease for 1.5 hrs whilst I played the bowl and at times spoke with him without interrupting my playing. I offered Nigel to play himself and towards the end of the session he reached out touching the edge of the bowl every briefly. The second and last time he reached out he quickly brushed over the strings. Nigel leaned back and positioned himself on a sheepskin on the floor, his head on the beanbag and his legs pulled in and one leg crossing the other and just stayed in this relaxed position. His teachers came in one by one and couldn’t believe what they saw, Nigel had not been so peaceful and relaxed since he started his placement a few weeks ago. The arrival and quiet chatting of his teachers seemed to make no difference and Nigel was clearly focussing on the gentle tones from the Sounding Bowl. At no time did he attempt to throw things, to pull off his clothes or perform any of the previously described behaviours.

Nigel has since attended more sessions and in the meantime began to play for himself in brief spells between long sessions of listening.

Another client, a 44 year old man with learning difficulties needs one to one care 24 hrs a day because of his tendency to wander off any activity, including meals and even at night due to his disrupted sleep. Simon had been best contained in outdoor activities such as horse riding, walking and gardening, anything indoors would not be able to catch his interest for any length of time, 5 minutes before Simon left could be considered a success.

When Simon was introduced to the Sounding Bowls he did not even wait until they were unpacked but left as soon as he had finished his snack. The next time the Sounding Bowl was already out on the table when Simon entered the room. This time he came close and tried it out. It caught his attention immediately and to everybody’s amazement Simon played for 30 minutes with a smile across his face before he left. In the following session Simon arrived and called me saying repeatedly “watch me, I am playing!” with a broad smile all over his face. Simon stayed for the entire session of 1.5 hrs and hardly stopped smiling.

Now, 10 months later, Simon communicates his wishes for the session, he jokes, he sings and mostly he plays the Sounding Bowls. Simon plays on his own and with others, he suggests and plays background music when we continue reading a biography and apart from a couple of toilet visits he does not leave the session at all. In-between he positions himself on the floor and relaxes with his eyes closed listening to his beloved Sounding Bowls.

On another occasion one of the children had a violent outburst, which had left the entire group in shock that morning. During their break time everybody was still in shock and the unsettledness was tangible in the distress visible in their faces and restlessness all over the place. I took out a two-octave Melody Bowl, playing it in a minor key and placed it in the centre of the courtyard on the lawn. Once I started playing it the students gathered around me, requesting pillows and beanbags for comfort and two or three of them wanted to be covered with a blanket. All of this was arranged whilst they were listening to the bowl. Then the boy appeared who had shocked everybody with his violent behaviour. He came up to me and wanted to try playing on the bowl. He played very gently. The whole atmosphere changed and he kept playing for the rest of the break time. At the end of it the group returned really relaxed to their next session. I was amazed at the deep impact the sounds from this bowl seemed to have on the well-being of the students. It seemed to me that it enabled them to integrate their experience and to recover from the shock.

“The trust that runs the school and a residential community for adults with learning disabilities has now bought six different Sounding Bowls and we continue to have wonderful results with them. Some of the adults are quite withdrawn and don’t engage easily. Using the Sounding Bowl I have seen several of them really open up and engage in a new way. Some of their parents have noticed changes and when we had the Sounding Bowls on display at our open day there was a lot of interest from them.

“Sometimes I play Sounding Bowl to one or other person during a session. It provides a sort of ‘sound bath’ a relaxing space and a peaceful environment, which is not there because of the use of language (reassuring words) but just as it is, without the need for understanding or translation. It is immediate and everyone has access to it without needing the assistance of staff.

Certainly the most amazing bowl is a 7 string Heart Bowl in Holly wood. It has a truly remarkable tone. (you may see this on You-Tube if you click here) there is one particular 15 year old girl I do this with. She is extremely tense and has real anger issues. When she comes into session now she makes herself a bed with some blankets and lies down and sleep for 7 – 10 minutes while I play. When she wakes up she is like a different person and engages with the rest of the session in a way that would have been completely impossible before. She commented on it herself several times noticing that she had less tension in her and that her stress levels had gone right down. This week she invited another boy into one of these sessions. He was delighted by it and enjoyed the session so much he booked himself in for the next week straight away. Before this he would not do any therapy except and only engage in wrestling which was a repeated scenario preventing him from addressing any issues in his daily life.

Other comments from students are “this is the most therapeutic thing I have heard in my entire life!” girl 16 yrs, “This helps me to relax” boy 12yrs, “Playing Sounding Bowls helps me to come to terms with my grandma’s death” girl 17 yrs, “I like that I can do what I want and it sounds beautiful and I can invent my own tunes” boy 10yrs.

“Sounding Bowls are firmly established now in our work and they have enabled us to see a break-through with several people, children and adults, which exceeded all expectations.

Zambodhi Schlossmacher
Zambodhi now assists Tobias presenting the Sounding Bowl Workshops

…I work as music therapist with adult cancer patients at an oncology rehabilitation centre in Stockholm, Sweden.

I have a deep style, fan strung Sounding Bowl and find this instrument very powerful in use.

Beautiful, comfortable to hold, permissive, it actually invites you to play!

The Sounding Bowl can be played in many ways – from lightly strumming all strings in the slow swing of a lullaby to sharp plucking on a single string or even singing into it, closely facing the bowl.

Just holding the bowl can evoke feelings of comfort and care, often unspoken needs of struggling patients.

Filling the silent empty bowl with sound and hearing the hollow resounding, is an experience of great symbolic significance for many patients.

The Sounding Bowl helps create a “sound-space”. The “sound-space” supports a “holding environment” and may present an excellent focus for the client to explore.

Anne Olofsson, Stockholm, Sweden.

… two years ago we came across your bowls in the woodwork tent (art in Action). My daughter was then just ten and had come to a block in her learning of the piano. … She … spent ages there. Your gentle encouragement gave her the space to stay and just connect with the sounds.

…She started violin lessons that autumn. Last year she took grade 1 and is now starting on grade 3 – which is good going considering she doesn’t really practise that much.

What is more, she started playing the piano again. I helped her for a bit then she wanted lessons again. She is now working on grade 5 pieces, although only just 12, also making up her own pieces and is determined to take music for GCSE.

I would like to thank you so very much for providing the opportunity that enabled her to step over whatever her barrier was and begin to blossom in music – your bowl certainly did what you said it did!

Name and location not published for privacy

…It was with some trepidation then, that I accepted my first community referral, a home visit which actually became the inspiration for the Towersey Community Project.

Carey Anne was a young mother and health care professional, who had reached the terminal phase of her long battle with stomach cancer. Before an admission to Rowcroft, Carey underwent major surgery, resulting in her needing a high degree of nursing care and frequent monitoring by nursing staff. Her condition did eventually stabilize enough for her to be discharged home, which surprised many of the staff.

On her last day at Rowcroft she asked the hospice chaplain about the ‘man carrying instruments’, who frequently passed her room. Their discussion led to my first home visit two days later, at Carey’s request.

Throughout my journey to Carey’s home, my mind was filled with worse case scenarios. Would she be surrounded by an inquisitive or suspicious family, would there be interruptions, and what could I possibly achieve without the wide range of exotic instruments, and perfectly tuned piano which I considered so important? I decided to use just one versatile instrument that I had on loan at the time- the ‘Sounding Bowl’. This elegant harp-like instrument with 9 – 15 strings can be tuned in a variety of ways. I chose the pentatonic scale, where any combination of notes played tend to compliment each other in a way most western ears would consider musical.

What actually occurred in the session with Carey surprised both parties. The Sounding Bowl was the perfect tool in this situation. Initially it was the bridge between myself and her husband, mother and sister, who were present at her bedside, looking rather exhausted. The bowl stimulated a great deal of discussion to start with- where was it made? who did the wood turning? Etc. I sensed this beautiful instrument was also providing a much-needed diversion from the focus on Carey’s illness at the time. However, as soon as Carey began to play delicately on its strings, small talk made way for it’s enchanting tone, which seemed to fill the room.

Carey seemed genuinely surprised with her efforts, and with the experience of producing such a soothing sound on her own. After a while, I began to accompany her on the lower strings of the bowl, and encouraged the rest of her family to do the same. To conclude our time together, I improvised some music on the bowl myself, and suggested to Carey and her family that they simply listen and relax.

Music therapy provided something unique in this instance- respite for the patient and her family within their home environment. The feedback which the Macmillan nurse received resulted in a decision to donate funds from their capital fund to buy a Sounding Bowl, now frequently used in work with other patients.

Julian O’Kelly Jan 2000

Dear Mr. Tobias

I have received your outstanding work, the musical bowl and I am amazed by its beauty and craftmanship, I can only hope to approach that level in time and seeing such a piece motivated me to work harder. I now realize how long the path is before me and I will use your work as inspiration.

From an expert (publicity shy) woodturner in Turkey

I have found the Sounding Bowl particularly useful in my music therapy practice which is principally based at Rowcroft Hospice in Torquay. When I was first asked to visit people at home I was at a loss what to do. part of my way of working is to give clients a wide choice of musical modes of expression. Eventually I decided to take just a Sounding Bowl.

This was an inspired choice. The beauty of the bowl and it’s captivating tone immediately broke the ice and opened hearts. The whole family gathered round and became involved.

A Sounding Bowl is often a useful introduction to music therapy: Music in our culture is for the trained, in contrast to countries where music-making is a cultural norm. in this context a Sounding Bowl becomes a bridge into music therapy; It is almost like people forget it is “an instrument” then they find they are making music. This draws people out of themselves.

The Sounding Bowl typically opens hearts. No other instrument elicits quite the same response.

A beautiful story from just recently: There was a man on the ward in the Hospice where I work who was deeply depressed and withdrawn, Wanted to die. He often sat with his head in his hands.

I sat with him on several occasions wondering what we could do, he not being able to leave his bed. Eventually I suggested I bring in a guitar and a Sounding Bowl. Instruments he had not taken seriously on previous occasions. To my surprise he agreed.

I took them in, improvised very briefly on the Sounding Bowl and passed it over.

An immediate transformation occurred. He sat fully upright, became animated and we began a wonderful improvisation. Afterwards I could tell the depth of the effect by the fact that words were not needed. We sat for a while in silence.

After that he did begin to talk more about spiritual things. He became more open with his wife, apologised for being closed to the spiritual sides of their life. He began having talks with the Chaplain.

After the Chaplain’s last visit this man waved him off through the window, and a few seconds later he died along side his wife.

Julian O’Kelly, RMTh. Using a 10 string Melody Bowl

“ I am deeply moved by the impact of ‘Sheila the Healer’ as our clients have christened the Sounding Bowl. She has taken our work into dimensions beyond formal music therapy and into that of vibrational healing; The tactile and aesthetic qualities as well as the sheer beauty of the sound have led to deeper levels of emotional engagement than were previously possible. This really helps to facilitate the therapeutic process”

Stella Compton, Head of Arts therapies, at a secure hospital in England, using a 10 string Melody Bowl.

As a tree surgeon it was interesting for me to have a look at your work – the Sounding Bowls are absolutely exquisite, and seemed to have quite an effect on me. Driving home I was feeling very calm and thoughtful, thinking about what I’d seen & heard. I was pondering how something so delicate with such purity of tone could be the result of a raucous process begun with a chainsaw, chipper and a felling wedge. Then I got to thinking about how the bowls you’ll make from that tree are currently contained within the wood – as if the idea of them exists within the wood, waiting for you to imagine them & tease them out. That’s quite a thought.

What really struck me is the clarity and purity of the sound, when contrasted with the racket we make when we’re working on trees with chainsaw and chipper. It’s very pleasing to know that the result of all that noise and mayhem can result in something so calming.

Rob Scholefield is tree manager for a housing co-operative in Devon

hi tobias, just letting u know am having a luvly journey with my bowl, ive customized a lap top case that i got from car boot sale £3, found another electric blue silk shirt 99p . i ve also took it 2 wrk to show a keen guitarist, while i wus showing the beauty of the bowl and played it , the 5 people i support, all sat down at the table and chilled out, one paticular person who is never at ease, and wus the 1st to sit down i cud see that it enabled her to relax in her soul, what i great spirit catcher/ free er you have made, a true shamanic tool. another thing my bowl does is wen i do a late shift 2-10 it help me 2 calm down by playing the c, and a, string which sedates the fire energy element, and is the 6th interval when i have 2 wake up at 6am my bowl even tho its wrapped up and in its case , sounds 2 wake me 10mins b4 my alarm goes off,

Garry Sharp cares for people with Autism.
His is a five string Hermetic Bowl in Yew.

As a music therapist it is interesting to observe how clients approach the Sounding Bowl: They are immediately taken by its appearance and intrigued by its distinctive feel. They show such respect and warmth towards it.

This is enhanced further as they play; they become absorbed by the sounds and led into an unknown yet exciting musical journey.

The Sounding Bowl provides immediate access to a shared interaction in which both therapist and client are guided by the sounds themselves.

James Robertson, Nordoff Robbins, University of Edinburgh, Scotland

… the sounding bowl continues to have beneficial effects in emotional regulation where other instruments do not make an impact.

Ms. S. Dickinson, registered music therapist.
Using a 10 string Melody Bowl.

…as I played I saw white light pouring from the bowl in my hands and flowing into the audience. It was flowing into the heart of each person present bringing different kinds of healing according to the need of each one. I stood up and walked around the whole audience playing as I went and the white light continued to pour out of the bowl and into each heart. One person had her eyes open. she came to me afterwards and told me all about it: exactly the same as I saw. I was amazed and feel that the Sounding Bowl will be a very useful healing tool in my practice.

Ron Heyes. Healer, Liverpool.
Using a 12 string Lyre Bowl

This instrument is particularly helpful to the heart forces in our children; the circle shape seems to contribute to the effect and opens up their breathing. That we can place such a fine instrument on their laps without fear of them breaking it means they can experience the music vibrating through their whole body.

Caroline Poynder Meares, eurythmy-colour-light therapist St Chrisophers School, Bristol.
Using a 15 string Melody Bowl.

“I regard the Sounding Bowl as essential to my work in palliative care. It's sensitivities as an instrument, the beauty of it's shape and texture of it's surface all add to it's personal qualities that are recognised and used to great effect by all people who play it. I use the Sounding Bowl at many levels from relaxation sessions through to delicately balanced work with people who are nearing death.~ Beautifully crafted and powerful instruments. I now use mine 2-3 hours every day at least.”

“I can't imagine music therapy in palliative care without one”

Dr Colin Lee RMTh, Oxford
Dr. lee uses two, a 7 string and a 14 str. Melody Bowl

It is quite wonderful what you have brought into the world through this amazing instrument. At St. Raphael’s Hospice it continues to delight and bring joy to those who let go their inhibitions and pluck one string, and then another. Their faces light up. In a moment of creation something has changed for them.

Most people listen to music but never have the chance to be actively involved in making it.

This is the magic of the Sounding Bowls that a person takes it on their lap and makes a sound. The sound goes right through them, they can feel it in their legs, the vibration that comes through into them affects the whole body, it often brings tears to their eyes.

One client I had cannot speak, cannot see. On first touching a string, feeling that sound he simply burst into tears.

Barbara Mundy, St. Raphael’s Hospice

“I am sure you will be pleased to hear that we have fallen passionately in love with the Sounding Bowl. I have started using it in clinical work with people with neuropsychiatric problems - it's wonderful to work with”.

Anne England, Music Therapist, Surrey
Using a 7 string Melody Bowl.

The (multiply handicapped) children I work with can respond to the Sounding Bowl and even initiate musical sounds in a way that is impossible with nearly any other instrument. When I first got the Sounding Bowl one of the boys who had not responded to anything else before spent the entire session touching, feeling then playing the Sounding Bowl.

Julie H. music therapist, Warwickshire.
Using a 12 string ‘crosstrung’ style.

The Sounding Bowl is working particularly well with a young PMLD man I've been working with for a year and a half. He 'cooed' throughout the whole session vocalising in a much more sustained way than he ever has before -very exciting.

He loves it. Thanks.

Tamsin, a professional music therapist in Wales

It has come! And is without doubt the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. The sound is exquisite. I am completely overwhelmed. Yes, it is a cathedral, astonishing. I have taken it round the hospital and people have marvelled, been strangely quiet, touched it's strings, welcomed it. I feel it become part of our dreaming fabric.

Alyson Carter RMTh Scotland.
Using a 15 string Melody Bowl

“For all its beautiful looks, the Sounding Bowl is acoustically a creature of the night, and comes in to its own when darkness and quiet descend. I do not know if you are familiar with Indian music, but it has rather the same soothing effect as the opening section of an evening raga~ I have tried playing it in 'reciprocal mode', tapping it gently and letting the strings vibrate sympathetically. Different tapping positions can excite different string combinations to resonance, so I can obtain a range of sounds. I have also tried tapping the strings very gently at differing positions along their length. If you hit the right spot, you can excite high overtones and produce rather aethereal sounds.”

(From a private user in Bath)

Just a brief note to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the “Soul Bowl” . It is really a magic bowl. I am finding that not only does it help to bring up into consciousness and reflect back to me what is deeply in me, but also it mediates to me in a wonderful way my creativity and inspiration. Through it a dialogue becomes possible with very deep levels.

(From a folk musician in Gloucestershire)

The bowl you sent me continues to calm and inspire so many of my students and clients.

Dian Booth, Sound Healer, Alice Springs, Australia

Yesterday I took a 7 string Melody Bowl into our regional hospital and brought it to “Linda”, who is completely paralysed following a stroke. I play larger, ten string bowl to her once a week and took the smaller bowl to see whether she might be able to play on it herself. She has a bit of movement left in one finger and uses this finger, pointing to letters on a chart, for communication. Sure enough she wanted to try and together we worked out how she could play all the 7 strings. It was amazing and she was thrilled that she could play a well know folk tune all by herself. She didn't want to stop playing. Normally I play for her about 15 min, then she gets tired, this time it took almost an hour before she wanted to end. She was delighted to play the bowl again the following week, and one week later spent the entire session playing it herself.

It was a profound experience for me to witness, how after 8 months of being restricted to pointing to letters on a chart, this person could suddenly play music.

I have fallen in love with the walnut bowl you made for Peter G at the rest home. I have been a few times to tune it and got Peter to play a little too. He asked if someone could tune it for him. When Anne and I played improvisations for him he suddenly said "O, I think I could do that too" and then the most beautiful smile spread across his face when he listened to the sound his bowl makes. He realised he doesn't need to know a tune, playing the bowl is beautiful in itself.

Zambodhi Schlossmacher, Co-founder of 'Empathy' offers musical experience to the dying and to people affected by serious illness.

“On numerous occasions the instruments I have had have felt too intrusive. The Sounding Bowl is extremely flexible and can adjust to numerous situations providing a very safe, sensitive and intimate sound,~ soft and quiet and capable of musical inflection,~ capable of working spontaneously within the moment with all clients. In corridors and passageways where clients are often sitting a client may stop me to talk or reflect on music. The Sounding Bowl is perfect for these transitional areas because of it's portability, flexibility and unobtrusive sound.

(From a music therapist in London)

“I use mine 2-3 hours every day at least. I can't imagine (doing) music therapy in palliative care without one”

(Dr Colin Lee RMTh at the launch of the Towersey Foundation

The musician for a Hospice in England sent me this collection of anecdotes. In order to preserve confidentiality I will not reveal the therapist’s name or location but the stories are lovely. She says:

Obviously what I do is confidential and I cannot break that, but you are welcome to use these stories sensitively

I have been using the Sounding Bowl in the Hospice since I started working there as a Creative Musician about18 months ago. What I love about it is the way people, almost without exception, respond to it. On my first day I walked into each room, introduced myself & was asked to go away! On my second day I went into all the same rooms, didn’t speak, but held out the Sounding Bowl and was welcomed by each and every patient! Since then I have used it almost every time as a way of first engaging with patients.

I love the fact that after saying to me “I’m not musical” when begin to play people lose their inhibitions in curiosity & delight. I love the way it can be played by two people at the same time, so it’s possible to provide harmony or structure. Also that it can be a way of conversing with question and response. Patients and visitors are immediately attracted by the sound, the beauty and the feel of the instrument.

Yesterday I played to two patients sharing a room. The daughter of the first told me he was really grumpy & would probably hit me over the head with it, but in all the times I’ve been with him he’s been glad to listen. His room-mate has breathing difficulties and his wife often speaks for him, but this time she wasn’t there and in the quietness I could tell he was moved and he thanked me for the soothing quality & told me he would never tire of the sound.

One elderly gentleman was sitting in his room reading the newspaper. I knocked on his door and showed him the sounding bowl. He was entranced and played it for a while then asked me to play to him. By some miracle! he asked if I would play “Amazing Grace,” which is one of a very few tunes that is possible on our bowl, so I did. He immediately asked me to teach him, so we set to work and with enormous concentration he mastered parts of it & I wrote it down for him in a way that he could follow. His large family were not sure about all this, but were prepared to humour us since he was so enthusiastic! A few days later I went back, and again he worked very hard, although he was in some discomfort, until he could play it really well. He was SO excited to be playing a musical instrument for the first time in his life and playing a tune that meant so much to him - I found out later he was a member of the British Legion. By that time his family had caught some of his enthusiasm & welcomed me every time I appeared. Shortly after he became really poorly, and although only family were allowed to be with him they drew me in to play to him. I played “Amazing Grace” to him once more and although he didn’t open his eyes, he just smiled. It meant so much to all of them.

A young lady with a brain tumour – depressed, isolated and bored, and found talking difficult. She was also to some extent disfigured by her disease. She sent me away day after day until at last, with a sigh of resignation she consented to try it! She also played with real focus and what felt like a lot of understanding. She was from a very troubled background and apparently had a huge collection of very violent horror DVDs! That is not at all what I heard in her playing. One day her partner was visiting her, and he expressed interest so I sat with them both & held the sounding bowl for them to play. The relationship was not comfortable at that time (for many reasons) – …but… suddenly she played the most beautiful phrase– and then, as if to show it wasn’t a fluke, she did it again. Then she turned and looked at him, and in those moments she was completely transformed and utterly radiant. She held his glance as if to say “THIS is who I am”. I will never forget that look.

Another day, I saw a young girl sitting in the garden looking very sad. I went to sit with her & showed her the bowl & we played together. We would talk a little, then play, rather like verse and chorus. She was visiting her grandmother who was dying, having watched her mother die in the Hospice two years back. Her grandmother had been everything to her. She took the bowl to show her grandmother, and the other two patients in the room showed interest. I brought more instruments and all three were making music together, mostly enabled by the girl. It was a really happy moment.

I was in late one Friday evening & heard children bashing the piano in the lounge & generally being high spirited! I went to see if I could offer them some music – they were with a wonderful lady vicar who was keeping an eye on them. Together we took lots of instruments out of my cupboards & took them into the sound-proofed room. Then suddenly the children disappeared. I was then told by the nurses that they had been taken in to their father who was dying at that moment. I waited, not really expecting that I could do anything, but after he died they came to me and said they would like to play more. We all took drums or the piano and, with another family member joining in, played with all the energy and volume we could manage. Then the little boy left, and the girl, who was about 10, stayed with me and the vicar. She played the piano for a while and I improvised a bass line to hold her, then when she became quieter I brought out the sounding bowl & she sat playing it & talking about her father and how he loved football. There were a lot of smiles and no tears.

I saw a lady on Friday and again today - she is entranced by it! She apparently trained as an opera singer but she is very poorly. You should have seen her face when I brought it in this afternoon!

I had a lovely time with another patient this week- she touches the strings with such a depth of listening and refuses to be hurried! Hopefully I will have another session today.

Today (two days later) when asked by her daughter, she said she didn't need me to play today because if she concentrated she could hear it anyway (from the cupboard!).

I spent time playing to a lady a week or two ago. She was very restless & they were worried about her. A couple of days later I went back and played quietly by her bedside. While I was playing she, without a whisper, died very peacefully. I was glad that the sounding bowl & I together had been able to do that for her.

I’m sure I will remember & experience many more moments to tell you about, but meanwhile I’ll send this on as I have promised to for so long.

Zambodhi speaks:

“Working as a therapist I work with music and movement, and the instruments I am using are mainly Sounding Bowls. I work with adults with learning difficulties, children with complex needs and also as a volunteer with people who are dying or who are living with life limiting illnesses.

“One of the boys, Nigel, 9yrs, was described to me as throwing all items in the class room off the shelves, moving or throwing chairs, undressing, urinating and occasionally defecating in the class room, kicking, screaming, spitting and scratching before he arrived for his first session. He would make sounds, maybe use occasional words without detectable context but not be able to express the nature of his distress. In preparation for Nigel’s arrival all wooden and mechanical toys had been removed and cushions, blankets and a range of soft toys been left in the room.

Nigel entered the room and stepped lightly to the opposite end of it turning round and finding a beanbag on which he made himself comfortable. During those short moments I unpacked a pentatonic Sounding Bowl and began to play one string. Nigel looked very alert and surprised and buried his face in the beanbag. I explained that I would play some more for him and that it would sound similar to the first sound he had heard. I continued playing another few strings and Nigel carefully peeped through his fingers at me playing the bowl. After a few minutes he completely relaxed and made himself comfortable watching me on and off. Nigel remained relaxed and at ease for 1.5 hrs whilst I played the bowl and at times spoke with him without interrupting my playing. I offered Nigel to play himself and towards the end of the session he reached out touching the edge of the bowl every briefly. The second and last time he reached out he quickly brushed over the strings. Nigel leaned back and positioned himself on a sheepskin on the floor, his head on the beanbag and his legs pulled in and one leg crossing the other and just stayed in this relaxed position. His teachers came in one by one and couldn’t believe what they saw, Nigel had not been so peaceful and relaxed since he started his placement a few weeks ago. The arrival and quiet chatting of his teachers seemed to make no difference and Nigel was clearly focussing on the gentle tones from the Sounding Bowl. At no time did he attempt to throw things, to pull off his clothes or perform any of the previously described behaviours.

Nigel has since attended more sessions and in the meantime began to play for himself in brief spells between long sessions of listening.

Another client, a 44 year old man with learning difficulties needs one to one care 24 hrs a day because of his tendency to wander off any activity, including meals and even at night due to his disrupted sleep. Simon had been best contained in outdoor activities such as horse riding, walking and gardening, anything indoors would not be able to catch his interest for any length of time, 5 minutes before Simon left could be considered a success.

When Simon was introduced to the Sounding Bowls he did not even wait until they were unpacked but left as soon as he had finished his snack. The next time the Sounding Bowl was already out on the table when Simon entered the room. This time he came close and tried it out. It caught his attention immediately and to everybody’s amazement Simon played for 30 minutes with a smile across his face before he left. In the following session Simon arrived and called me saying repeatedly “watch me, I am playing!” with a broad smile all over his face. Simon stayed for the entire session of 1.5 hrs and hardly stopped smiling.

Now, 10 months later, Simon communicates his wishes for the session, he jokes, he sings and mostly he plays the Sounding Bowls. Simon plays on his own and with others, he suggests and plays background music when we continue reading a biography and apart from a couple of toilet visits he does not leave the session at all. In-between he positions himself on the floor and relaxes with his eyes closed listening to his beloved Sounding Bowls.

On another occasion one of the children had a violent outburst, which had left the entire group in shock that morning. During their break time everybody was still in shock and the unsettledness was tangible in the distress visible in their faces and restlessness all over the place. I took out a two-octave Melody Bowl, playing it in a minor key and placed it in the centre of the courtyard on the lawn. Once I started playing it the students gathered around me, requesting pillows and beanbags for comfort and two or three of them wanted to be covered with a blanket. All of this was arranged whilst they were listening to the bowl. Then the boy appeared who had shocked everybody with his violent behaviour. He came up to me and wanted to try playing on the bowl. He played very gently. The whole atmosphere changed and he kept playing for the rest of the break time. At the end of it the group returned really relaxed to their next session. I was amazed at the deep impact the sounds from this bowl seemed to have on the well-being of the students. It seemed to me that it enabled them to integrate their experience and to recover from the shock.

“The trust that runs the school and a residential community for adults with learning disabilities has now bought six different Sounding Bowls and we continue to have wonderful results with them. Some of the adults are quite withdrawn and don’t engage easily. Using the Sounding Bowl I have seen several of them really open up and engage in a new way. Some of their parents have noticed changes and when we had the Sounding Bowls on display at our open day there was a lot of interest from them.

“Sometimes I play Sounding Bowl to one or other person during a session. It provides a sort of ‘sound bath’ a relaxing space and a peaceful environment, which is not there because of the use of language (reassuring words) but just as it is, without the need for understanding or translation. It is immediate and everyone has access to it without needing the assistance of staff.

Certainly the most amazing bowl is a 7 string Heart Bowl in Holly wood. It has a truly remarkable tone. (you may see this on You-Tube if you click here) there is one particular 15 year old girl I do this with. She is extremely tense and has real anger issues. When she comes into session now she makes herself a bed with some blankets and lies down and sleep for 7 - 10 minutes while I play. When she wakes up she is like a different person and engages with the rest of the session in a way that would have been completely impossible before. She commented on it herself several times noticing that she had less tension in her and that her stress levels had gone right down. This week she invited another boy into one of these sessions. He was delighted by it and enjoyed the session so much he booked himself in for the next week straight away. Before this he would not do any therapy except and only engage in wrestling which was a repeated scenario preventing him from addressing any issues in his daily life.

Other comments from students are “this is the most therapeutic thing I have heard in my entire life!” girl 16 yrs, “This helps me to relax” boy 12yrs, “Playing Sounding Bowls helps me to come to terms with my grandma’s death” girl 17 yrs, “I like that I can do what I want and it sounds beautiful and I can invent my own tunes” boy 10yrs.

“Sounding Bowls are firmly established now in our work and they have enabled us to see a break-through with several people, children and adults, which exceeded all expectations.

Zambodhi Schlossmacher