Sacred music retreat welcomes musicians and nonmusicians alike Dec. 8-10

SOUND AS A HEALING TOOL: “There are ways to show people how to pull sound out of their instrument,” says local percussionist River Guerguerian. “You have to find the keys that help people open up.” Photo by Yve Adams

Local professionals within the Western North Carolina healing arts and music circuits — Jeff Schmitt, River Guerguerian and Caroline Padgett — will join together to hold an immersive sacred music-making retreat. The three-day event takes place Friday-Sunday, Dec. 8-10, at Laughing Waters Retreat Center in Gerton.

SACRED SOUND MAKER: Jeff Schmitt visits Tiwanaku, an ancient site in Bolivia. Photo courtesy of Jeff Schmitt

“About a year ago, I started a conversation with the three of us about how we might work together around a focus on our very complementary expertise and approaches to sound … and rhythmic healing. Together we did an event that went smashingly well,” says Schmitt. “We figured that we could extend that into a whole weekend program where we really weave people through a journey of understanding how your body is an instrument that can be tapped to do what so many ancestral cultures have done with sacred sound and music. We come at it from very complementary perspectives, which is really exciting.”

“Energy work has been my foundation, and I’ve been studying sound healing for about a decade now,” says Padgett. “We did the event in July, and watching the alchemy of that was what really struck me. I’ve never felt something so right in a collaboration before.”
Schmitt explains that the retreat is open to all, regardless of musical experience. “First and foremost, you don’t have to be a musician to attend,” says Schmitt. “It is participatory, hands-on, practical. You are going to leave the event, hopefully, with new inspiration.”

ALCHEMY OF HEALING: “Energy work has been my foundation, and I’ve been studying sound healing for about a decade now,” says Caroline Padgett. Photo courtesy of Caroline Padgett

Guerguerian explains that the event also welcomes those working in the healing arts (such as massage therapy or acupuncture), who would like to implement music in their practice. “If there’s somebody who’s always had a drum or bowl and always wanted to understand how to use it in their practice, we’ll be able to help them get to that place or at least get them started,” says Guerguerian.

“There are ways to show people how to pull sound out of their instrument,” says Guerguerian. “You have to find the keys that help people open up.”

Participants will discover new ways to use sound as a healing tool, both with themselves and others. Topics include the instrument as an extension of self and deep listening to strengthen one’s connection to nature and spirit. Guests will take part in hands-on experiential exercises.

The weekend will wrap up with an Andean healing and sound ceremony on Sunday.
“Really what I want people to walk away from is how their own nature translates into their own song and their own tone and how that in any moment heals,” says Padgett.


WHAT: Sacred Music-Making Retreat

WHERE: Laughing Waters Retreat Center, 3963 Gerton Highway, Gerton

WHEN: Friday, Dec. 8, 6-10 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 9, all day starting at 9 a.m.

Sunday, Dec. 10, all day starting at 9 a.m.

COST: $45-$300 depending on sessions attended


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About Jacqui Castle
Jacqui Castle is a freelance writer who began contributing to Mountain Xpress in 2014. When she is not writing, she is living it up in the Fairview mountains with her family of four.

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