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Randy Raine-Reusch - Personal History

The Beginning
Born in Halifax in 1952, Raine-Reusch was raised with his older sister in a small house in Dartmouth Nova Scotia. His father, a farm boy from Saskatchewan, struggled to find work after serving in the navy during the war. His mother, from a small town in Scotland, retired from the Royal Air Force when she moved to Canada to work as a part-time model. In search of work the family moved to Vancouver when Raine-Reusch was only five.

A Rough Start
Raine-Reusch had a difficult childhood. Born with extremely poor eyesight that was not diagnosed until he was six years old, he was often treated as if he was mentally challenged. Raine-Reusch also had to cope with physical, emotional, sexual and psychological abuse in the family. The depth of the family dysfunction led his mother to become an alcoholic for more than a decade, which further exacerbated the problems. It was not until Raine-Reusch was into his forties that he had the emotional power to undergo a decade of therapy to heal the trauma of his childhood. Like many other abuse victims, he had to overcome his over-confidence that masked his low self-esteem, handicapped social skills, emotional extremes, his own internalized rage, lack of trust and a host of other emotional problems.

Unusual Gifts
Yet his childhood also gave him some unusual specialized skills. He learned to sense a person’s emotions without looking at them or hearing them, probably developed to prepare himself for potential abuse without being able to rely on his eyes. He also recognizes people from their body language rather than their facial features, as this is how he located his parents in a crowd as he could not see their faces with his poor eyesight. Also his sense of hearing, touch, and smell are very acute, which have become useful in his careers as a massage therapist and musician. At around twelve, his mother taught him a powerful form of self-hypnosis that he used for years to control his emotions.

Reading and Writing
Although he was often still treated as having very low intelligence, Raine-Reusch was an avid reader and quite precocious. To quell his questions, his family priest gave him Plato’s Republic to read at thirteen. By the time he was sixteen he had read the Tibetan and Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Bible, the Koran, the Baghavad Gita, the Dao De Jing, numerous anthologies of world philosophies from Kant to Confucius, and was venturing into Hesse, Pinter, Satre, etc. By the time he was eighteen he had added to his reading list poetry from Europe, Africa, America, Persia, China and Japan, with the latter being his favourites.

Yet, Raine-Reusch had great difficulties writing. He could easily stand in front of a class and speak at length on any topic and excelled at school debates, but he couldn’t put two words together on paper. This became such a problem that he developed a severe writer’s block in the last year of high school, which prevented him from writing any papers, and almost resulted in him failing to graduate. The writer’s block did prevent him from going to university. It was not until the advent of home computers that he finally was able to overcome the block.

Creative Start
At the age of nine Raine-Reusch saw some folks coming out of a building with boxes in their hands and asked his father what they were doing. When told that they were playing accordion, Raine-Reusch without knowing what an accordion was asked if he could learn. Soon he was taking lessons, which did not go well as even with glasses Raine-Reusch could not clearly see the music on the page in front of him. So he memorized the music he heard at the lessons as best as he could to fool his teacher. Instead of practicing at home, he sat for hours listening to the complex chordal clusters produced by pushing as many keys on the accordion that he could at the same time. He never did really learn to play the accordion. His musical “studies” continued into school band classes, where he took up the tenor, alto and eventually baritone saxophones, still memorizing the music until his teacher discovered the truth and gave him a passing grade only if Raine-Reusch promised to never return.

Leaving home when he was seventeen, Raine-Reusch lived on a number of communes, and hitchhiked across Canada and down the Westcoast to California, much like a large portion of his generation at the time. He grew his hair long, wore flowing clothes and was in constant search for himself. What he found instead was an Appalachian mountain dulcimer, which he took to immediately and learned to play well enough that he would trade playing it for meals, a bed for a night and other items of survival. Once he traded dulcimer lessons for massage lessons and with his highly developed sense of touch he was soon trading massages for meals as well. Sometimes living in communes and sometimes homeless, Raine-Reusch learned to eat out of garbage cans, hand sew his own clothes, and survive at the lowest rung of western society.

Down to Business
Eventually finding himself nowhere, Raine-Reusch decided he needed education, and went to every government agency he could to get training in massage. Without any luck, he worked at odd jobs for a year to try to save money for his education, before his father decided to loan him just enough money to take a course. Raine-Reusch enrolled in a massage college in Toronto and graduated with a 98.6% average, passed the Provincial Board exams in both Ontario and BC and started a practice in Victoria, B.C., with no money and not much more business sense.

His business died quickly and to quell his failure he sold what few assets he had gained, took a bus to Woodstock, New York and enrolled in the Creative Music Studio, studying with Karl Berger, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland and a number of other creative musicians. With no money, Raine-Reusch worked off the tuition by cleaning the residence at Mt Tremper, a very large building, which took him around 3-4 hours a day. The other students looked at him askance as he only brought his dulcimer, not a jazz instrument. However his teachers thought nothing of it and he was in musical heaven for a few months. After the course, and dreaming of a career in music, Raine-Reusch managed to find a way back to Victoria, where he was offered a golden opportunity.

A physician that occasionally sent patients to Raine-Reusch asked him to join in founding Canada’s first wholistic health centre, with two physicians practicing acupuncture and two psychologists, one of whom worked with biofeedback therapy. The Holistic Health Centre gained national press as this was the first time that five health practitioners from such diverse disciplines worked together on equal footing. Raine-Reusch stayed with the Holistic Health Centre for three years until it changed structure and focus into a more traditional clinic. During this period Raine-Reusch lectured at a number of Humanistic Psychology Conferences in the US and various local conferences on health and healing. After leaving the Holistic Health Centre, Raine-Reusch set up a new practice in Vancouver, eventually becoming the President of the Massage Section of the B.C. Association of Physiotherapists and Massage Practitioners. His lack of business skills saw the demise of his practice and his stepping down from this position, to work on short-term contracts.

Changing Pace
While on a contract in Edmonton in 1978, Raine-Reusch played a short set as a small coffee house at which the Artistic Director of the Edmonton Folk Festival hired him for the festival on the spot. This led to more folk festival and was the start of Raine-Reusch’s music career.

To See the World
Raine-Reusch’s career has taken him to over twenty countries. He has continued to lecture worldwide from educational conferences in Cairo to music schools in Beijing. He has created events from a biofeedback performance system at Expo 86, Vancouver, to the Rainforest World Music Festival in Borneo. He has continued to study the music of traditional cultures while creating and performing his own music worldwide. He is now also professional writer, composer, and consultant. Although he still lives with the scars of his abusive childhood, he has found happiness in his marriage to Mei Han, and together they continue to tour the world.