by Courtney Nachlas
How can someone use music to change the world? This is a question that Cheyenne Mize always wondered. With no intention of becoming strictly a musician or a music teacher, Mize searched for a way to incorporate her musicality into her passion to help those in need. In high school, Mize was inspired by a professor to dedicate her life to practicing music therapy at the University of Louisville. Currently, Mize is an active music therapist but also continues to work on her own career as a singer/songwriter.
Mize has just released her most recent album, “Among the Grey,” on July 25. “Among the Grey” is the first album Mize has completed from beginning to end. With a unique blend of a variety of instruments, “Among the Grey” is a compilation of work incomparable to anything else out there. Its complex notes intertwined with beautifully written lyrics, transcend the listener into another world. A world that is completely Cheyenne; a world that is painted grey intertwined with a few sparks.
BFM: Can you explain what exactly among the grey means?
Cheyenne: Among the grey has quite a few meanings, I think, and the more I kind of got into it the more layers of meaning I found in it. Part of it is just about being in the grey area in most of my situations. There are not usually one right and one wrong, there are a lot of different paths. Part of it is in life you find situations where a lot of things are the same and people are the same and life gets boring. I have found myself in situations where finding those colorful parts of life and the things that make life worth living, I guess the sparkly places and the colorful places among what other life is kind of grey.
BFM: How you can be between destinations in your life?
Cheyenne: You kind of think that being an adult is a destination, you think that one day you’re going to just arrive there and have all these things that you expected. I guess I have some that are not that case, I feel very much like a big kid and, you know, it’s like you never get to those destinations. If you do, it’s only a fleeting moment. Really just the process of getting somewhere that is what life is. Whether it’s a career situation or building who your friends are or the people you’re spending your life with it’s never the end destination it’s always the process.
BFM: How do you use your music to help others?
Cheyenne: I am trained as a music therapist so, I use music in a little bit of a different way than some musicians do and, depending on the situation, I use it to accomplish non-musical goals. So, instead of teaching music, where your goals are musical, you are either teaching other skills or working on other things. At the hospital, where I work, we work mostly on things like pain and anxiety. I just help in whatever way I can to help the patient’s pain and anxiety whether it’s doing some kind of relaxation music that would be breathing and those kinds of things. We also use it to start conversation with the patients, with what they’re going through with things like that. I also work with two boys with autism and so we’re working more on social skills and building self-esteem. They are high functioning and very musical so a lot of that looks like music lessons. I think I bring some of that into my writing as well, and I write from a very emotional perspective. Knowing how much I identify music and what it means to me, I’m hoping that other people can do the same.
“[I have found] the sparkly places and the colorful places among what other life is kind of grey.”
BFM: How did you get involved initially with helping hospital patients and children who are autistic?
Cheyenne: My senior year in high school I was trying to figure out where I was going to go to school and what I was going to do. I always played the violin in school, but I didn’t think I wanted to teach or perform, so I was just going to do music in college to help me get my degree – for scholarships. But, I happened to have a professor come to my orchestra class, my senior year in high school, and she talked about music therapy, which I had never heard of
before, and immediately the light bulb went off. Thinking of actually getting to play music and getting to work with people, I’d never really thought about that as a thing. So, I changed my plans and decided to go to the University of Louisville where that program was and the more I found out about it the more it just made total sense.
BFM: How do you think this specific album contributes to those who are recipients of music therapy?
Cheynne: Lyrically, I write pretty broadly so I think a lot of people could relate in some way. But, my teenage boys I work with I’m not so sure that would affect them, it’s kind of a separate thing for me. Even though they’re very there when I perform and they’re always really excited to hear about those things. This album specifically and my music, how that will affect my clients – I don’t really see that effecting them in any way it’s kind of a separate thing, but again the idea is that anyone could find something on this album that they relate to musically or lyrically.
BFM: Could you define what music therapy is in your opinion?
Cheyenne: It is using music to accomplish non-musical goals in whatever way we can; we use songs and playing with clients and engaging them in musical experiences in whatever ways that we can in order to accomplish those non-musical goals. It’s not about playing for people it’s about getting them involved.