Bill Protzmann is based in San Diego, California. In addition to being a successful IT entrepreneur, Bill holds magna cum laude degrees in piano performance and creative writing, and has performed for many years with a focus on bringing music to non-traditional audiences, veterans, Alzheimer’s patients, people struggling with physical or emotional injuries, stressed-out business people, the homeless, parents and caregivers.
In 2011, he launched Music Care Inc., which is dedicated to teaching practical ways music can be used for self-care. His work was recognized by the National Council for Behavioural Health with an Award of Excellence in 2014 – the behavioural health equivalent of winning an Oscar.
Bill has been a witness to the power of music, how sound and rhythm works on human beings physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, throughout his life. He has also used music as self-intervention in his own behavioural health care, including confronting his suicidal tendencies, whilst his volunteer work brings him into contact with people who are or have been homeless, abused substances or are combat-injured.
Even if you can’t carry a tune or play an instrument, you probably have a list of songs that bring back happy memories and raise your spirits. Music can produce an emotional, mental or physical result that can calm you after a stressful day, fire you up for a football match, help you focus or study for an exam, or transform “negative” emotions into “positive” ones. Physiologically, human beings respond to sound without effort or thought so when we hear sound, the vibrational energy of the sound is converted to electrical impulses by our ears, and those trigger the release of all sorts of brain chemistry, neurotransmitters and hormones. These make us respond to what we heard, an example being the “adrenalin rush” we get from certain kinds of music or the way other kinds of music predictably lower blood pressure.
Many of the people in the groups that Bill works with are in some sort of pain. Sometimes the cause of physical pain can be obvious, a broken bone or a cut, but there are other times when we can’t see the problem, which makes it particularly difficult to find the exact cause of someone’s mental or emotional pain. Pain shakes us out of our comfort zone and is part of who we are so we need to learn to deal with our pain. Elite athletes learn to push hard to get through their pain barrier to find the energy they need. In the same way we need to create the resources to find energy in our pain.
Emotional pain activates the same areas of the brain that feels physical pain, the anterior insula and the anterior cingulate cortex. If you are continually exposed to emotional pain, there are changes in the brain that can produce a dependency on those feelings and whilst emotional pain can be significant and debilitating, it also can end up affecting your physical health as well if it continues for a prolonged period. Since emotion and pain are strongly linked, music that resonates with positive emotions triggers positive memories that can affect mood and also the ability to deal with pain. Brain scans have been able to successfully prove music naturally increases neurochemicals in the brain, including ‘feel good’ endorphins such as dopamine.
Bill combines his extensive musical knowledge and his familiarity with a wide variety of musical styles and instruments to find something that helps each individual or group. It can be anything from electro-pop to opera, and he may simply play music or be more interactive, singing or teaching people to play instruments in a way that uses the rhythmic and melodic components of music to full effect.
You can listen to the full podcast at:
Find out more about Bill and his music-care work at: