Music is the answer to the mystery of life. The most profound of all the arts, it expresses the deepest thoughts of life. –Arthur SchopenhauerAnyone who knows me well knows that music is a HUGE part of my life. In all ways. I am a singer and musician (I play guitar and piano). I have sung in my church choir for years and am currently part of a little band/group. I LOVE to play music with others. It feels wonderful to create something beautiful and meaningful with people of like mind and talent, and share it with others. It's a high I can't even explain or describe. When I'm singing and playing, time and space do not exist. Only the music.
Sometimes when I sing, I close my eyes. There’s harmony in every breath I take; the drums become my pulse, the melody is the flow of my blood. This is what it means to lose yourself in music, to become a symphony of notes and rests and measures. -- Jodi Picoult, Sing you HomeI've been singing my whole life. When I was a little girl, I would sing along to the music my parents played on their reel-to-reel tapes and record albums. The Beatles, The Mamas and the Papas, Blood Sweat and Tears, Gladys Knight and the Pips....these were just some of the groups my parents loved. I can still see my dad putting an album on the turntable and getting this look of bliss on his face when the music started. We'd sing the songs together and dance around the living room.
I sang in school choirs, acted, sang and danced in musicals, and participated in school talent shows. I took piano lessons and voice lessons. In high school, my best friend, Jean, taught me to play the guitar, and we'd play and sing harmonies together. We knew all the Everly Brothers songs and never tired of singing them. I started writing my own music, and would perform at an open mic in a local coffee house where I lived in Tacoma, Washington. While in college, I teamed up with my friend Anthony, playing guitar and singing duets like Mocking Bird by James Taylor and Carly Simon. We created our own harmonies to John Denver and Beatles tunes, and we'd perform our songs at the campus Coffee House.
Music has always been as natural as breathing to me. I can't imagine my life without it.
But it's not just making music that moves me so, it's listening to it as well. I love almost all kinds of music, but prefer rock n' roll and modern folk, or "Indie" folk rock, like Mumford and Sons and the Avett Brothers. I admire especially, female vocalists who sing with passion and power like Adele and Brandi Carlile. Music from the sixties and seventies is my favorite because it's what I grew up with. I joke that my whole life is like a soundtrack. I can hear a song and know what year it was on the radio, and where I lived and what was going on in my life. I can almost always tell you what artist does what song. When I'm listening to music, it's the same as when I'm performing it. I go into another world almost. I am completely absorbed in the song and transported to whatever time and place and feeling it connects me to.
I think music can be an amazing and powerful emotional experience for most people. It touches something in all of us. There is something intrinsic in our human make-up, something primal that responds to sound and rhythm that is put together in a pleasant and harmonious way. Now, what one person thinks is pleasant and harmonies might sound like more like noise to another, but the connection is there, to something within.
When I hear music, I feel no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest of times, and to the latest. -Henry David ThoreauI don't quite understand it--how music affects the brain and therefore the emotions and memories and certain responses. But I know it's real. Psychologists and researchers in recent years have started to really focus on the power of music to heal. Music therapy is gaining notoriety and legitimacy as we see real results in patients with emotional problems as well as memory issues.
I recently saw a wonderful movie produced by Mickey Hart (of the Grateful Dead) called The Music Never Stopped. It was based on studies and stories there were chronicled in a book by British neurologist and psychologist, Oliver Sachs. His book Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain, was also the subject of "Musical Minds", an episode of the PBS series Nova. The movie tells the story of Gabriel, a man who lost his memory due to some kind of trauma, when he was a teenager in the 1960's. Years later, his parents decided to explore music therapy as a way to reach him. The therapist would play old Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan albums, and as soon as the music would start, Gabriel would be instantly transported back in time. He would start talking about what was going on in his life, but he had no idea that he wasn't still a teenager. It was the music that revived his memory and enabled him to converse as if no time had passed. How powerful!
In Jodi Picoult's latest novel, Sing You Home, the main character of the story is a music therapist. She works with the elderly as well as with children and teenagers, using singing and drumming to reach them. Just the idea that an author would portray her character as a music therapist is a reflection of how open we've become to the idea that this is very real, and anyone can relate to it.
I am fascinated by all this. Here is a really interesting VIDEO about Mickey Hart and Oliver Sachs and their efforts to improve lives through music. It's not too long, I hope you will take a moment to view it.
Real music is not for wealth, not for honors or even for the joys of the mind…but as a path for realization and salvation. –Ali Akbar Khan
How has music touched your life?