Alumni Spotlight: Deon Nossel
1. What drew you to the Integrative Sound and Music program at the Open Center?
I have been on a path of psycho-spiritual development the past several years that has included spiritual studies from my Jewish religious tradition as well as meditative and healing gatherings from shamanic traditions. For some time, I have been aware of the importance that both these traditions place on music and sound, and have personally experienced the profound transformative and healing effects that music and sound can have under the right circumstances. Lacking any background in playing or studying music, or in practicing or studying sound healing, I began to feel an increased curiosity about how it all works. Last fall, after a weekend retreat in Vermont, I particularly felt a calling to learn about how music and sound can be such powerful modalities for transformation and healing.
2. What made this program more appealing than others you considered?
I did not consider other programs. The day after I returned from my retreat in Vermont, I saw an email from the Open Center describing the 2018-19 SMI Program, which would be beginning in 10 days. (I was on the Open Center email list after having taken some prior classes/programs.) I clicked on a link to Silvia Nakkach’s introductory webinar. After viewing the webinar, and seeing the curriculum and teachers, I was struck that this program seemed to offer exactly what I was looking for. I also found it striking that I did not seem to have conflicts on any of the weekends that the program met from October through June! After speaking with some of the program coordinators and being reassured that my limited background in sound and music was not a problem, I decided to give the first weekend’s workshops a try. I had such a positive experience that weekend that I immediately signed up for the entire program.
3. What did this training mean to/for you, personally and or professionally?
Being in the program has felt like an important stage of my path of personal growth. I have taken the first steps towards making music myself, including singing and playing instruments, which had long felt like an impossibility. I have learned a lot, from scientific and other perspectives, about the powerful effects that music and sound — when employed with proper intention and skill — can have on one’s mind, body, emotions and energetic field. I have connected with so many amazing people, including teachers, program coordinators, classmates and alumni, who have taught and inspired me more than I can possibly convey. I have also learned to value and draw upon my intuitive side.
4. Share one or two of the highlights of your experience in the program.
It is difficult to limit myself to one or two highlights. However, as someone without a background in making music, particularly meaningful to me were (1) Silvia Nakkach’s classes on voice in which I experienced how good it felt to let go of my inhibitions and sing with the group, and (2) the classes on rhythm in which I experienced how much we’re capable of (with practice) when the thinking mind doesn’t get in the way.
5. How important was the class and alumni community to your experience?
The class and alumni community were of the utmost importance to my SMI experience. We had a wonderful group in our cohort and I miss not being together on a regular basis. I appreciated the opportunity to spend time with and get to know everyone, and am grateful to have made some good friends with whom I look forward to staying connected. My main contact with the alumni community was through the monthly labs that began in January. In addition to meeting some great people, it has been interesting and inspiring to see what some of those who previously completed the SMI program are now doing with sound and music.
6. What would you say to someone who is considering taking this program?
I would encourage anyone who feels drawn to this program, regardless of how much prior experience and training you have in sound and music, to seriously consider enrolling. The quality of the teachers is top-notch and you will have the opportunity to connect with and learn from a variety of amazing people. For me, and I think pretty much everyone in my cohort, the experience over nine months was transformational, with ripple effects that will continue to play out in sometimes unexpected ways over the years to come. I would also emphasize that with the SMI program, the more you put in the more you get out. It’s important to clear some space in your life so you have the time and energy to fully engage in the program, which is a commitment. I think that anyone who lives up to that commitment will have a unique opportunity through the SMI program to greatly benefit both themselves and those close to them.
Deon Nossel is an attorney who lives and works in New York City.
The Integrative Sound and Music Certificate Program
A 9-Month, 130-Hour Certification Training
October 2019 – June 2020
To learn more and register, click here.
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