Joe Romano is passionate about helping people struggling with different neurological and behavioral conditions function at higher levels and lead more enjoyable lives using his very special brand of Developmental Music Therapy. He has witnessed amazing changes in the lives of the young people he works with as well as the lives of their families in many cases. He works with children who other experts have given up on. He immediately knew that The Kingdom of Should would be an incredible vehicle for sharing his work and his passion with a wider audience, which he believed would simply help more people than he ever could by himself.
Music is the basis for Joe Romano’s therapy. Musical notes in combination with beat patterns and the cycling of note frequencies has been proven to change our heart rate and breathing patterns. Neurologist and best-selling author, Oliver Sacks, MD describes this phenomenon in his book Musicophilia: Tales of music and the brain. Sacks explains that music occupies more areas of the brain than the human language; we are a musical species.
Joe combines music with movement, visual processing and other techniques, which he created, to understand children’s minds, to move their development forward, and to form his unique approach, making developmental music therapy unlike any other music therapy. Working closely with behavioral optometrists to maximize his results, Joe has enhanced the quality of life of untold numbers of people struggling with behavioral and learning issues. In the right hands, music is a powerful tool that opens closed doors.
As a young child, Joe had a severe eye turn. One eye often pointed at his nose instead of aiming with the other eye. Surgery to straighten the eye was recommended but Joe’s mother was not convinced that this was appropriate and declined. Sometime later Joe began to create and carry out his own program of what he now knows as vision therapy. Alone in his room, in secret, by the light of the streetlight outside his bedroom window, Joe worked night after night training his brain to get his eyes to work together until finally, it worked. His eye began to stay straight more and more. This changed everything for Joe. His body began to work better, more symmetrically. Music, which previously sounded like just so much noise, began to make sense and sound like music. The constant taunts, commonly aimed at children with crossed eyes, ceased. Joe uses this knowledge, incorporating important aspects of vision therapy into his work.
Joe became convinced he was on to something; “Many times I have walked into a session and observed a depressed person with no apparent need or desire other than to stay in that depression. It was almost as though they were asleep, and within minutes they were awakened through music. They showed an immediate desire to participate in life and in the moment.”
Joe first realized how much of a dramatic effect music had on the conscious and subconscious mind as a young studio musician. “I was a studio musician working with some of the biggest music producers of the time, including Phil and Joe Nicolo and Obie O’Brien and I saw how records were really made, including using specific rhythms and frequencies to influence the brain and body in certain ways to help make the music more enjoyable.” Joe became determined to do something much more meaningful with these techniques than just making music more enjoyable. He believed he could use rhythms and frequencies to help children on the autism spectrum. By combining his knowledge of music as medicine, the importance of visual development and visual information processing and significance of movement to enhance learning and general development, Joe created what later became known as Developmental Music Therapy.
“I’ve used the subtle but powerful music techniques with great success. When I go to a therapy session I take a CD player with programmed music I’ve designed either as a standard device or sometimes specifically designed for a particular individual and play it throughout the session and it works every time.” This technique is used throughout The Kingdom of Should in the musical numbers and in the soundtrack accompanying the story dialogue and narration. These sound and rhythm techniques are also the basis for Dreaming In The Land Of Can., a specially designed CD, which will assist those who have trouble sleeping to actually fall asleep and stay asleep because these pieces are designed to loop over and over throughout the night.
Joe Romano: “The inclusion of rhythm is so important to the neurologically impaired mind because it can’t just speed up or slow down by itself most times. These children are seemingly devoid of any awareness of rhythm in their everyday lives; there is rhythm in there but it often needs to be stimulated both to carry out more successful actions and to more successfully fall and stay asleep. Rhythm is an integral part of existence. The ability to consciously tap into rhythm can enhance a person’s capacity to think and move more successfully.”
“Between the specially designed note and chord selections and the unique voice and rhythm patterns utilized throughout the story, there is a powerful vehicle to start breaking down the suffering and depression these special people’s minds are trying to preserve. The music and story will become etched into their being. These carvings will not be a symbol, they will be a solid foothold for their future and a better quality of life.”
Joe continues to study the issues of general health, dietary and lifestyle issues that can also have dramatic impact on the lives of children on the autism spectrum. “I want to help these children develop strategies to get past the behaviors that make it so hard for them to engage in learning. If we can achieve this it will greatly enhance the likelihood of academic success and progress. Teachers are often so frustrated by certain behaviors that they become unable to relate to these children in a productive, mutually beneficial way.”