Podcast Episode #4 – Lori Frazer Bailey on Yamaha’s Music and Wellness Institute

In this episode, Yamaha Music and Wellness Institute's Lori Frazer Bailey graces the show and talks about music therapy. Check this episode out!

Miller Piano Specialists November 27, 2019 16 Min Read

The Miller Piano Specialists Podcast | Nashville, TN
The Miller Piano Specialists Podcast | Nashville, TN
Podcast Episode #4 – Lori Frazer Bailey on Yamaha's Music and Wellness Institute

Welcome to Miller Piano Podcast’s Episode 4! In this episode, host John Haggard talks to Lori Frazer Bailey, consultant of the Yamaha Music and Wellness Institute. Did you know that music can literally help hospital patients heal from certain ailments? Aside from that, the two parties talk about the following topics:

  • Lori’s Life in California and Arizona
  • How Lori Ended Up With the Yamaha Music and Wellness Institute
  • Different Studies Done at the Yamaha Music and Wellness Institute
  • What Does the Yamaha Music and Wellness Institute Do?
  • What is Music Therapy?
  • Is Music Therapy Covered by Insurance?
  • Benefits of Learning to Play Piano
  • Using Technology to Your Advantage in Learning to Play the Piano
  • Amazing iOS Piano Apps You Can Use
  • Why a Piano Is a Perfect Holiday Gift, and Why Get it at Miller Piano


John Haggard 0:14
Welcome to the Miller Piano Podcast! On a special talk with Lori Frazer Bailey, she’s a consultant with the Yamaha Music and Wellness Institute. And Lori does many workshops for teachers on how to integrate technology into piano lessons. She also works with consumers helping them learn to enjoy and understand their instruments and does university and college training for digital piano labs throughout the US and who knows what else? Welcome to the podcast, Lori!

Lori Frazer Bailey 0:43
Thank you so much. Thanks for having me.

John Haggard 0:45
Glad to have you. Quite a bio there! And before we begin to talk about Yamaha and all of the things you do, just a little bit of information about you. So like, where are you from? Where are you living now? How did you get into the piano business?

Lori Frazer Bailey 1:00
Originally born and raised in California in the San Jose area, the heart of Silicon Valley. I have lived in Tucson, Arizona for almost 16 years. So I’m in the desert southwest keeping myself warm. Kind of funny about the piano industry and how things have changed and evolved. You know, some of these things just happen accidentally. Many, many years ago, Yamaha used to have an event called the Electone Festival, which was an organ competition. And that was actually my first introduction to Yamaha back in the 1970s. And that’s kind of how it evolved from there.

John Haggard 1:35
The Electone. Now for those who are old enough like, like we are, what was Electone? That’s interesting.

Lori Frazer Bailey 1:42
Electone was Yamaha’s name for the home organ. Because back in the 1970s, of course, we didn’t have technology like portable keyboards and digital pianos. And so, if you wanted to play orchestrally and have different kinds of sounds or tones, or at least what we thought were different sounds are tones at the time, you played the organ. And that’s what I did for many, many years.

John Haggard 2:05
So how are you connected with Miller Piano Specialists in Cool Springs there in Franklin, Tennessee?

Lori Frazer Bailey 2:11
Well, Miller is one of our amazing dealers in the Yamaha Piano Network. And I have been so honored to work with them often over the years. Actually, in a fair amount of these capacities that you talked about, I’ll come into the store and do workshops. The one thing I love about Miller Piano Specialist is that they’re always looking to help people on any level to make music. Sherry does some really great play by ear classes where people who have never played before, never thought they could play before just come in and they learn all about their instruments and how to play and she’s really got a great thing going there.

And it’s always a lot of fun to come in and work with her classes and, you know, show people a little bit more about what their instruments can do. And they also do a lot of outreach into the community workshops with songwriters and things. They’ve done the fundraisers for the Head Neck Cancer Awareness, and just really, really just great community partners for y’all there in Nashville.

John Haggard 3:09
Now as a consultant with the Yamaha Music and Wellness Institute. Tell me specifically what that is that you do with Yamaha?

Lori Frazer Bailey 3:19
Back in 2002, Yamaha invested in actually genomic study. I think, intrinsically, everybody knows that music makes you feel good and that music is good for you. But the interesting thing is that when you start to get into the medical arena, and if you, for instance, go into a hospital and say, Hey, we want to set up a music program, they don’t care about anecdotes, they want to see black and white data. And so in 2004, we actually published a study in conjunction with applied biosystems, which is the company that actually deciphered the human genome. And this was published in Medical Science Monitor, February of 2004. And prior to that, we had created a group music-making program called Clavinova connection, which we’ve actually done a fair amount of research projects with. And if anybody wants to read about the outcome on those projects and what we’ve done, if you just go to yamahainstitute.org, that will take you to the abstracts of all of the different projects that we’ve worked on. All right.

John Haggard 4:21
And so as we get specific into that, just a couple of examples. Like you said, the hospitals didn’t want anecdotal data, they wanted to see specifically what a music program is, how that relates to wellness? What’s an example of that when you would go into a hospital and say, well, you know, let me see the research.

Lori Frazer Bailey 4:39
Well, what there was one example we had an amazing project in a hospital out in California. And we had started cuz someone actually came to us and said, Hey, we want to start this music program. So we came in and Dr. Barry Bittman, who’s the neurologist that I work for, came in and did grand rounds for the physicians and, again presented the research and then a program was started there. And the actual program in that particular hospital was done for cardiac rehab patients. And anybody who was having heart surgery, if they had time to do some of the program prior, they did because music is a great way to relax and take your mind off of everything. And of course, having heart surgery is a pretty stressful thing. Yeah, both before and after. And so not only that, but we also did a project, which was kind of fun where the nurses would come down, and we would effectively call it the piano spa, where they could earn time to spend in the piano spa. So again, just having that data where we can show that on a biological level that your body does change when it makes music definitely helps to get those programs going.

John Haggard 5:46
All right, and then in its simplest form, if you were just to say if somebody said give me a sentence what is meant by the term music therapy.

Lori Frazer Bailey 5:55
A definition of music therapy is actually using music for non-musical outcomes. I just finished attending the National Music Therapists Association National Conference in Minneapolis just last weekend. And these music therapists are really amazing. They train in many, many modalities. Music therapists can be used in the hospice process again to bring just calm and peace to the family and to the client.

Music therapists are a lot of times used with premature babies because they find that when babies are exposed to music that they eat better. That will use a lot of music therapy is used with traumatic brain injury, stroke recovery. A great deal of music therapy is also being used with people on the autistic spectrum. And it’s just really amazing to see what these therapists can do.

Just as a personal example, my mother had a very massive fall in January and had a pretty traumatic head injury. And I hired a music therapist to work with her because she had two major things that she was not able to overcome for a long period of time. One was concentration, and the other was anxiety. And so as the music therapist would come in and work with my mother, she was able, first of all, to keep her completely totally engaged for a period of an hour, where at that point, she couldn’t even concentrate for three minutes. And then the other thing was working with a music therapist was incredibly calming to my mother and just helped with her anxiety. Amazingly, so the therapist was not there to teach my mother how to play. Again, we were using the music for a non-musical outcome.

John Haggard 7:39
You know what’s interesting, is that something that insurance would reimburse?

Lori Frazer Bailey 7:44
In some cases they do. Different hospitals are hiring music therapists and in certain cases, yes, and it’s becoming more and more of a very well established and very well recognized therapy. It’s really amazing to see what these men and women do in that realm. I have the great honor of working with some fantastic music therapists. There’s a program being used for our servicemen and women that are called Creative Forces. And Creative Forces is being funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. And they’re using music therapists to help returning and wounded soldiers with traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder. And there are different programs and several military hospitals. And it is just, it’s just amazing to see what these people, these therapists can do to help these men and women regain some normal state of life.

John Haggard 8:42
Yeah, Lori. Well, I mean, okay, so let’s talk about someone who’s decided, hey, I think I would like to learn how to play the piano or I want my child to learn how to play the piano. From that vantage point, what would you say are the real benefits of doing that? I mean, obviously they’re going, you know, going to enjoy it and like to do what they do. But what else in the background is a real benefit for going that way versus you know, someone says, Well, you know, some kids say, Well, I want to play soccer mom, I don’t want to, you know, practice on a piano, and I’m sure you’ve heard that a lot.

Lori Frazer Bailey 9:15
Oh, man, many, many times. And of course, you know, I think that having a balance is important. But there are so many things that kids can get from music lessons. Hand-eye coordination, spatial reasoning. It helps with their math skills tremendously because music is based so much on math, helps with their concentration, helps with their sense of accomplishment. My comment is whenever somebody asks me about music, I always say music is magic. Because there are so many things that music can do. And you know, for the adult, so many adults think, Oh, I’m too old to learn. What? You are never too old to learn. The oldest student I had when I was teaching private lessons was 93 years old.

John Haggard 9:58
Wow! How about that?

Lori Frazer Bailey 10:00
She had always wanted to play. Her older brothers got piano lessons, she never got piano lessons. When her husband passed away, she said, that’s it, now it’s my time. And bless her heart she was amazing. And, you know, everybody says, you know, when’s the best time to plant a tree? The best time to plant a tree was 25 years ago. Yeah, the second-best time to plant it is today.

John Haggard 10:23
You know, that’s 100% right. And don’t put all the things that you know, for that very reason. I mean, now is the time, now is the time.

Lori Frazer Bailey 10:30
It is and you know, there’s always a quote, there is not one adult that always that would say, I’m so glad I quit piano. Any adult that you talk to that took piano lessons, as a child says, oh, I wish my mother would have made me stick with it. And of course now with technology, there are so many great things for teaching kids. I mean, there’s iPad apps that support all the different piano methods. Digital pianos have some fantastic features. with, you know, great sounds and orchestrated backgrounds that kids can play along with I mean, and even for adults. And it’s so much more exciting to take lessons in this day and age than it was years ago because we do have the assistance of technology.

John Haggard 11:15
Yeah, let’s talk about that. Because technology in everything is big. If it’s your iPad, your iPhone, your Android, the car that you’re in, all the home kits that are available. And if you’re looking at a child, let’s go to, you know, that example of someone saying, you know, I’d rather play soccer mom or you know, whatever the situation is, or I want to go outside and play with my friends, what is it? What’s different? What’s new in piano technology, that would really say, you know, to a kid would say, hey, wow, I mean, I yeah, let’s give this a shot.

Lori Frazer Bailey 11:46
Well, what’s interesting is that a lot of the apps and things for iPhones, iPads, tablets, that sort of thing. A lot of them look a lot like video games. And so, of course, their educational as well as entertaining, and there’s one app in particular that I just adore. We’ve even got adults working in it. It’s called Piano Maestro and we can hook up with Piano Maestro and we can play together with between the piano and the iPad, sometimes wirelessly, sometimes just with one cable. And the iPad will keep track of your scores and will let you know if you’re playing right notes or wrong notes. And then the fun thing for the teacher is that if you have a subscription to this program, you will actually get an email every Sunday night letting you know how much time your kiddos your students spent on the app. And then what their scores were. So when they come the next week, you can actually kind of fine-tune your lesson program as to how much they’ve gotten done.

John Haggard 12:50
Wow, you know, that’s pretty interesting because schools today, you know, children are in school, you go online, you see what the grades are. I mean, you know, everything’s all there. You see what they’re doing, what their progress looks like. So you can really see like you said, what has been done in the past week?

Lori Frazer Bailey 13:05
Absolutely. And that just makes the teaching process so much easier because you’re not repeating what doesn’t need to be repeated yet you’re also able to reinforce what needs to be reinforced.

John Haggard 13:15
And you’re also not listening to someone say, Yeah, I practiced three hours last week.

Lori Frazer Bailey 13:19
(laughs) Exactly!

John Haggard 13:21
It will catch you.

Lori Frazer Bailey 13:22
Because the email tells otherwise.

John Haggard 13:25
It does, Lori. Well, you know, Nashville known as Music City, and maybe the music capital of the world, at least for country music and certainly a really influential center here, lots of songwriters and folks like that. And I would think a lot of them would know obviously, about technology, but there are probably more songwriters here per capita than anywhere else in the world. And so what about the new technology in terms of songwriters and composers. Anything recent in the last year, so earlier, two are coming up or anything?

Lori Frazer Bailey 13:57
Well, one of my favorite apps is a freebie, actually, which is kind of fun because of course, a lot of what songwriting is based on is a lot of times chord changes, the harmony. And then a lot of times, songwriters will lay down, you know, harmonies, chord changes, then come up with the melody and then come up with the lyrics. Of course, there are computer programs that can spit out lyrics, where you can give them parameters. And David Bowie was a great one for this where he would put in certain parameters of lyrics, and then the computer could actually spit out some lyrics. But one of the things that I love to do is analyze other people’s work, which I find to be an inspiration myself, not that I’m a songwriter. But there’s a free app for iPhone and iPad. It’s iOS only. It’s called Chord, just like a piano chord, Tracker. And how this program works is this app I should say, is that any song that’s in your iTunes library, so it’s one that you have to own, that you pay your dollar 29 for from iTunes, it’ll automatically populate into this app. And when you open the app in 30 seconds, I will give you a chord chart to any song in the iTunes library.

John Haggard 15:03
That’s amazing. It just takes the music and writes it for you. Yeah,

Lori Frazer Bailey 15:08
It just gives you the chord charts. Not the melody, not the lyrics because, of course, the interesting thing about chord changes is that chord changes are not copyrightable. But it’s really amazing to do this because then you can look at you know, the structure of how a song is built the other chords that other songwriters may be abused. If you’re a performer, and you’re trying to figure out a song, what’s great in this app is that you can slow down the tempo. So that if you’re trying to transcribe maybe somebody’s solo, you can slow this tempo down to a manageable tempo to play. And then there’s even a place that says A-B where you can mark off a place to loop. So if you like two bars you need to learn or four bars, you can tell this app Hey, keep looping those four bars. Now what’s really cool about this app, this app wirelessly pairs to our CVP digital pianos, Yamaha digital pianos that they carry it Miller’s, I might add. And what we do in the military with this program is that we are working a lot with trying to reconstruct speech. So that Clavinova has a microphone jack on the underside. And we can hit the record button on the iPhone or the iPad, and have the client sing. And it puts their voice right over the top of let’s say they’re playing, they’re singing along with the Beatles. And so this way we can actually listen back to how is the speech pattern improving. And then there’s a great place once the recording’s been done that you can click on it and just say to the client, what’s your email address, pop their email address and boom, they have an instant audio recording of what they just did in session.

John Haggard 16:44
That is cool technology. I can only imagine what it’s going to be like five years from today.

Lori Frazer Bailey 16:50
You know, I can’t even begin to imagine. I recall when I came back to Yamaha 1997. When they were interviewing me, one of the bosses said to me, where do you see your job 10 years from now? I said, I can’t even imagine because I can’t even imagine what you’re going to do with technology 10 years from now. But, you know, education is always a part of that. And it’s really been, it’s been a fun ride. And so like I can’t imagine what we’re going to do five years from now.

John Haggard 17:17
Well, last question for you. Lori Frazer Bailey, folks. And that is, you know, we are coming into the holiday season. And just to touch a little bit more on what you said earlier, people out there trying to figure out, you know, what’s the perfect gift for the child, a spouse, the home? And you know, maybe a piano has never crossed their mind? Or maybe they give the argument, hey, you know, it’s just too expensive, or, as we were talking about earlier, Lori, someday. So what would you say to somebody who is saying, well, maybe someday maybe it’s too expensive? I don’t know if my child will stay with it. I don’t know if I want to make the investment because then I’m gonna lose the money when the child doesn’t want to play. How do you handle all of that?

Lori Frazer Bailey 18:00
Well, you know, those arguments have been around forever. And I worked in the piano business for a long time on the retail side. And you know, the other thing about investment is that if you make an investment, in a better quality instrument, you have a lot better shot of that kid staying with an instrument. If you just, you know, buy something that’s absolutely minimal, saying, Oh, well, you know, maybe if they stick with it, I’ll buy him something better. That’s almost like if a kid’s going to take tennis lessons, giving them a ping pong paddle and say, well, if you play well with this, then I’ll get you a real tennis racket. You know, you can’t really learn how to play the piano on a $150 keyboard that’s sitting on your lap, that doesn’t have weight.

I mean, you really do need to make an investment. And the investment is not necessarily huge. I mean, there’s many, many price points. I mean, anything from, you know, under $1,000 to, you know, way, way up in the you know, $50,000 $60,000 You know, for things like big reproducing amazing player pianos that hook up to the Internet that’ll stream concerts into your house. I mean, there’s everything in between. And I think a lot of people’s perception is that they either have never been into a piano store or haven’t been into a piano store so long that they don’t even really realize what the amazing options are. There’s an absolutely fantastic instrument that’s great fun. That’s called the Clavinova smart piano which, again, is a decent price point. It’s a fantastic piano action.

And if a parent says, well, I don’t always want my kid to have screentime. Fine, take the iPad off, have them play it like a regular digital piano. And as a treat, then they can put the iPad on and interface with all the great apps. So there are lots and lots of choices and lots and lots of options. And the beautiful thing about Miller is that they embrace all of those technologies, and they have knowledge of those technologies. And they know when you walk in the door when you say, hey I’ve got a kiddo that’s nine years old. We’re thinking about getting started, what do you recommend? And they have options to recommend.

And you know, the other thing that a lot of people don’t realize, too, is that you can finance a piano. Many people don’t walk in and write a check for something like that. And there’s always great financing programs available, especially over the holidays, and I would certainly, it’s a great, great opportunity to take you know, to take advantage of those. And really, with music, don’t wait. Don’t wait. Music is magic.

John Haggard 20:32
What an education. It’s been a great… I want to play the piano now.

Lori Frazer Bailey 20:36
I hope you do. Go see the people at Miller Piano Specialists because they will definitely hook you up.

John Haggard 20:40
You know, it’s a lot of fun. I was a bass player by ear many, many, many years ago. And I can only imagine what that would be like today playing a piano with all that technology. It kind of takes the, I guess there’s hard work in anything but it really it seems to me would soften that kind of hard way of the old days and make it fun.

Lori Frazer Bailey 20:59
It definitely softens the learning curve and it also just makes it so much more fun. You know, when you’ve got these backing tracks playing behind you and, you know, even if you’re just playing something that’s very, very basic, you’re still counting, you’re still playing the notes properly. And what I’ve always advocated whenever I do these workshops for teachers is that when these little kiddos are playing, and they’re playing songs that are four or five notes, they’re not that exciting. You put an orchestrated accompaniment with it, now it’s exciting. And if they’re supposed to play loud, the backgrounds loud if they’re supposed to play soft, the background soft. So not only is it making them count from day one, it’s also making them a better musician, and it’s also keeping them engaged. And that’s the most important part is keeping the kiddos engaged.

John Haggard 21:45
You know, absolutely. That is so well said because I’m thinking about that. Yes, years ago, there wasn’t a full orchestra. It was you and the piano keyboard and the teacher

Lori Frazer Bailey 21:53
And the metronome.

John Haggard 21:55
Oh, I remember that thing. Tick, tock, tick, tock.

Lori Frazer Bailey 21:58
Yeah, not very stimulating for sure.

John Haggard 22:01
Those are the old days, are they?

Lori Frazer Bailey 22:03
Yes, they are. I mean, and there is definitely still a place for that. I’m not saying that that’s completely gone. But you know, there’s just so many more options now to make it more interesting and to make it more fulfilling, quite honestly.

John Haggard 22:17
Well, thanks, Lori. Lori Frazer Bailey, folks, she’s a consultant with the Yamaha Music and Wellness Institute. And there is a transcript of today’s podcast right here on the website for your quick reference. And don’t forget to rate, review, and subscribe to the podcast on your favorite podcast listening platform. I’m your host, John Haggard, and we will see you next time.

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