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Charles Segal and Music for Relaxation

Powerful Patient, 2008 Week 13

Joyce Graff, host, on

Beginning March 24, 2008

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Program guide for this show


Relax, an album from Charles Segal
Album cover: the music of Charles Segal


Charles Segal was born in Lithuania, raised in South Africa, and for the past 20 years has lived in the United States. He has amassed a broad and impressive body of work, and is still going strong. Joyce speaks with him about music as an expression of emotion, and its role in calming the spirit and speeding healing.


Audio fileListen
Program guide for this show


Our Guest


Charles Segal is a talented, classically trained, accomplished jazz and commercial pianist and composer. Born in Lithuania, he was raised in South Africa, where he became a celebrity pianist and a prolific composer of over 1,000 songs, including award-winning songs and many now traditional South African songs. Charles is the featured performer on over 200 albums.



He is a founding member of the South Africa Music Rights Organization as a composer and a publisher. He was also a regular performer on the SABC networks. Charles Segal Music School was the largest one of its kind in South Africa and Segal's Publications published many popular Music Tutor Books. Charles emigrated to the USA in 1986, where he has continued to be prolific in composing and recording. He is a member of BMI.


Charles has developed a theory of tonal patterns, interval spacing, sequences, expression and touch to use in creating a special series of relaxation music.


Music as therapy


Music is therapeutic, like meditation, and brings about stress release; music exercises and stimulates your whole brain – hearing, reading, eye hand coordination.


Cancer patients and terminally ill people take lessons with Charles to uplift their spirits and motivate them to fight their illness.  Doctors play music after surgery in intensive care units.  Charles’ music is played in dental offices and spas, massage therapists, cosmetologists, gyms, etc.


When dyslexics play games involving music, it reportedly helps them read better.


Soft background music in intensive care units for premature babies helps babies gain weight faster and leave the unit earlier than preemies who don’t hear music.


Music helps calm Alzheimer’s patients.  It has been demonstrated to reduce confusion and disagreements.


Music lowers blood pressure in certain situations, increases oxygen consumption, helps manage pain, relieves stress, contributes to happiness, and enhances health (USA Today).


Certain types of music can enhance brain function, memory, and emotion.  In making and listening to music, we use both sides and many parts of the brain.  It is exactly for this reason that music is healing and has the ability to enhance brain function – music integrates the whole brain.  Parts of the brain are activated that process other forms of sound, that understand speech, the right and left temporal loves (the left side analyzes incoming data and the right side helps to put music together into a whole piece).  The limbic brain processes the emotional aspects of music, as well as triggering memories.


Researchers in Rome used music therapy as an additional treatment for severely brain injured coma patients.  Results showed that patients who had music therapy had a significant reduction of undesired behaviors such as inertia and agitation.


In a highly publicized work, researchers at the University of California at Irvine demonstrated that listening to Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos (K.448) enhanced visual spatial learning skills.  Frances H. Rauscher, Ph.D., and her colleagues condusted a study with 36 undergraduates from the department of psychology who scored 8-9 points higher on the spatial IQ test (part of the Stanford-Binet Intelligence scale) after listening to 10 minutes of Mozart.  Gordon Shaw, one of the researchers, suggested Mozart’s music may be able to warm up the brain.  “We suspect that complex music facilitates certain complex neuronal patterns involved in high brain activities like math and chess.  By contrast, simple and repetitive music could have the opposite effect.”


Classical music and most beautiful soothing, stimulating music can make a positive difference in your brain.


Music by Charles Segal


In addition to the improvised selections performed by Charles Segal during this interview, we played selections from the following of his albums, all of which are available at  

  • Traditional Songs of Africa: Xhosa Hoeing Song
  • Pastel Moods: Taste of Africa
  • Relax...: African Moon
  • Classical Melodies: Fantasia Impromptu Open 66 by Chopin
  • Relax to Romantic Moments: Faraway Love