The many powers of music
Entering the flat of Vera Brandes one does not necessarily get the impression she’s a music enthusiast: merely one shelf of CDs, a few vinyl records and a music award are to be seen. No piano, no sheets of music scattered on the floor, and no sign of a cluttered, disorganised home that you would expect from the stereotypically creative and messy musician. On the contrary, a laptop on the desk and three of her newly-found partners and employees at the table debating over sales details and some contractual chatter suggest that this is the place where serious business is being conducted.
“Here at Sanoson, we are at the interface between music and entrepreneurship,” starts Vera, explaining to be the offspring of an entrepreneurial family: “My grandmother was an entrepreneur in medicinal products, my father was a doctor, my mother was also an entrepreneur.” With the whole family being musical, Vera waslucky to get acquainted to a couple of older friends, who brought her even closer to music in her days as a child: “They took me to so many concerts and events and as the man in this couple was the pop and jazz editor of Radio Bremen, I got tons and tons of records.”
From the Wunderkind of the record industry… Photo credit: Sanoson; http://on.fb.me/1tzgFrK
Almost every week, Vera got a package full of the newest records, she says. She grew up with the work of Johann Sebastian Bach, her father played the organ and her mother loved Spanish guitar music. “Of course, also The Beatles fell into my time and all in all, I grew up with music in and around me. I listened to African, Greek, French music very early and, consistently, have been named the ‘Wunderkind of the German record industry’ in the next 20 years to come, due to my music production and the successful labels I managed, as well as one of the pioneers of New Age.”
At age 14, she organised concerts in Cologne and later also tours of bands. At 17, she was responsible for the first Keith Jarrett concert in Cologne and made it to New York and LA a few years later, having an office at the Broadway in 1979. By then Vera was 19.
… to the Duchess of Chronobiology
Yet, music production and management was not all there was to Vera’s passion for music. “From a child, I was convinced that music can do something to us, but it depends on the kind of music and in which situation one listens to it,” she says. At the beginning of the 90s, she started to expand more into the field of research. A time during which the term chronobiology came up – a research discipline that deals with the periodic phenomena in an organism. “If you bring music into the equation, it is that complicated because you have two moving targets to analyse: the human organism and the music.”
By that time Vera still was on the height of her music career not knowing that she soon had to face the most difficult time in her life which eventually led into founding Sanoson.
In 1995 she had a bad car accident where she suffered from multiple fractures to her spine. “I had to lie flat on my back for 10 to 12 weeks they said. I knew that this would mean starting all over again, learning how to walk again,” she recalls. But interested in alternative medicine, she called her friends, among those certified Jin Shin Jyutsu therapists to come visit and sing healing songs with her. In the end, this is what helped her recover sooner as expected Vera is certain. “Only two weeks after I was released, with my fractures almost entirely healed.”
But not long after her mother was getting sick with a first wrongly diagnosed lymphoma: “She suffered severely from August 1997 to April 1998, being in a coma for the last months. The only way I could communicate with her was through playing music for her. And the worse she got, the more simple the musical patterns needed to be.” This was an immensely important experience that eventually yielded her in the direction of analysing the effects of music on people more closely.
Mozart effect and the birth of Sanoson The circle of the Sanoson I-MAT audiotherapy; Photo credit: Sanoson, http://on.fb.me/1neG7Sw
What followed were academic studies in the US and especially Salzburgwhere Vera did research on the Mozart effect. The first try-out with Sanoson then took place in 2007 but failed due to inadequate technical infrastructure, she says.
More throwbacks would follow over the years but Vera already knew how to stand upafter a fall and despite scientific doubts on her theory she continued her research on music and media effects. Not without success: Based on years of research on the exact variables of music and the human body Vera and her team are now offering a service that shall help to cure people suffering of depression and exhaustion with the effects of music. According to Vera, the company takes care of about 100 patients with Sanoson as considered paying customers.
Furthermore, Sanoson currently tries to secure hospitals as clients basically throughout the world. “We are negotiating with some hospitals in the US like the Mayo Clinic and Harvard Med School, for example,“ says Vera. The team around Vera wants to focus especially on the user experience and enhance the sales in general. Besides hospitals and clinics, also big corporations shall become part of the target audience of Sanoson as not just the treatment of depression but also stress and burnout prevention.
If the planned expansion of Sanoson will be the next step in Vera’s eventful journey is yet to be confirmed. But one thing is for sure: There is more to come.