Harnessing The Healing Power of Music

Lesley Teoh

According to neuroscience research, music is one of the few activities that stimulates and uses the entire brain. It also increases the growth of new brain cells, which is critical for enhancing positivity and for rehabilitation of disorders such as strokes and dementia.

Music can also benefit those with physical and learning disabilities, those suffering from Alzheimer’s, as well as people with hearing and visual impairments.

“Most people do not know that music triggers the release of chemicals such as dopamine and oxytocin in our brains that makes us feel happy and closer to others,” says Michelle Lee, Founder & CEO of I’m Soul Inc, a social enterprise in Singapore that uses music technology to harness the therapeutic power of music.

She compares playing an instrument to a full body workout for your brain, which multiplies the therapeutic effects of music far more than just passive listening.

I’m Soul Inc uses a range of music technologies and programmes to enable everyone to make music. One of these technologies is the Soundbeam –a device that uses movement-led technology to facilitate music composition through movement.

I'm Soul Inc Music Technology

Originally designed for dance, the Soundbeam is an inclusive technology that enables older adults or those with disabilities to make music easily and instantly on entering the beam.

“They can form an ensemble to make any music that resonates with them. The happiness is palpable. It is less tiring for the body to move to music. Social interaction is enhanced when they make music with friends and family,” she says.

“Many people cannot make music the conventional way, especially those who are ill or have a disability. Our fun and innovative programmes and technology enable anyone to make music with ease,” says Michelle.

What differentiates Soundbeam from other existing music apps (e.g. Garage Band) is that it uses wireless switches and motion sensor beams to translate movement into music, and can be used as a holistic and multi-sensory approach to physiotherapy.

“When people are amazed and self-motivated to move to make music, physiotherapy sessions become so much more fun and empowering. Both the client and the therapist or caregiver can now make music together which is more fulfilling and deeply engaging,” says Michelle.

I’m Soul Inc’s innovative programmes have enabled positive behavioural and emotional change for the communities they work with.

“We have enabled hundreds to make music and touched the lives of the young and old, abled and disabled, families and communities across generations. For those whose access to music is restricted, or even deemed impossible previously, we open up a whole new world of possibilities,” says Michelle.

“To truly improve the quality of life and build a more compassionate and inclusive world, we need to solve problems at the soul level.”

I’m Soul Inc was one of the top 12 social enterprises in the 2016 edition of DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge Asia (SVCA),  as well as the winner of the Asia For Good Reader’s Choice Award 2016.

Since winning, I’m Soul Inc has gone on win the Best Active Ageing Award (Community) at the Asia Pacific Eldercare Innovation Awards 2017. The social enterprise is also looking at expanding into Hong Kong.

Michelle and Carmee of I'm Soul Inc with Laurence Lien

[Michelle Lee and Carmee Lim of I'm Soul Inc with Laurence Lien]

“Being a part of SVCA has helped raise our profile tremendously and opened up many new opportunities for business and mission growth,” says Michelle.

Find out more about the top 15 social enterprises from SVCA 2017 and vote for your favourite here.


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