This week, I was blessed to be gifted twice with tickets to wonderful musical events, an exceptional string quartet, and the outstanding voices of rising opera stars. The soul nourishment of listening to live, beautiful music being performed by talented musicians left me with awe and reverence for what an important and healing gift music is in our lives.
I have yet to learn to read music, but music is a significant part of my life. I regularly sing to and with my children, ages 13.5 and 10. I make an effort to enjoy live performances whenever possible, and of course I play recorded music in my home. I find that music contributes to many needs and desires in my life, serving as inspiration, bringing healing, evoking certain emotions and expressions, cultivating connection with others, and many other benefits.
Thankfully, part of the curriculum at the school my boys attend requires them to learn a stringed instrument, beginning in the 3rd grade. My oldest son plays the violin, and my youngest plays the viola. To watch and hear them grow and expand in their musical talents has been beyond inspiring. It has always been a dream of mine to have beautiful, live music in my home, and as I watch their skills develop, and their musical awareness expand, this dream is becoming a reality.
I am convinced that musical expression nurtures creativity, peace, and joy, not to mention family and community.
My oldest child has now picked up the guitar, teaching himself to play. He has also decided to make his own instruments. At the tender age of 12, his love of woodworking and music led him to teach himself the process of making from scratch his first electric guitar. He also created his first acoustic instrument, a beautiful sounding ukulele, and is now working on an acoustic guitar. Never would I have imagined that not only would I have such beautiful music in my home, but that my children would also be making their own instruments!
My youngest child sat down to a piano about a year ago and began playing Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, playing only by ear and his own memory of the tune. The pianist beside him said to me afterward, “You must get this child a piano!” Shortly thereafter, the Universe gifted us with a beautiful upright piano from a dear friend. With all of this creativity and manifestation connected to music, I cannot help but wonder what the role of music is in all of Creation.
Can you imagine life without music?
Think of not only the music we might hear over our speakers or in a live performance, but also of the music that life itself offers to us every day…the beautiful song of the birds, the joyful giggles of children, the sweet chirping of crickets, the gentle rustling of the trees in the wind, the rhythm of the falling rain, or the flowing harmony of a stream. These are the musical sounds and tones that we often take for granted. Creation itself sings and performs for us in every moment. How often do you listen?
Also consider the elements of music. There is melody, rhythm, harmony, balance, order, tone, form and tempo. There is a natural tendency within our souls to find these elements in life. When we experience dissonance, our soul longs for resolution. Music speaks to and of the soul. It can bring us into connection with the truest part of ourselves, and the most beautiful aspects of life.
Beethoven, even while being unable to hear as most of us do, was able to hear what some call the “harmony of the spheres.” He could hear the magical tones of the cosmos. In this hearing, he was open to the sounding and resonance of Creation itself, and dedicated his life to sharing what he experienced. There is something about listening to Beethoven, whether you are a fan of classical music or not, that goes straight to the soul and takes one to depths and heights not otherwise available. When I was young, I didn’t really appreciate classical music. I came to love it the more I took time to listen, to simply be with the music and let it wash over me and penetrate to my core.
What if we allowed the music of nature to penetrate our soul? What if we became so present to the sounds around us that we could allow the song of the birds to touch our heart, the laughter of children to spark our joy, or the flow of the stream to calm our nerves?
I challenge you to be with these questions. See if you can take a brief moment each day to listen, to truly hear the magic of the music all around you. It is there, waiting for you to give it your attention. In this challenge, you may discover sounds that you clearly don’t want to allow in, and others that offer you the gift of peace and calm when you make space to receive them. Taking the time to connect with the music in our daily lives helps us to discern what we want to let in, and what we prefer to keep at bay. It also cultivates presence and attentiveness, while tuning in (literally) to the heart of Creation and developing our own unique capacity for creative, harmonious expression in the world.
At both of the events I attended, the audience was filled with mostly gray haired people. I wondered, is this because older people have more time to attend such events, or is this because the younger generations are not exposed to, or learning to, appreciate music beyond the pop culture and electronic, canned sounds of synthetic music? No matter the reason, I believe we must create space in our life for a variety of music, and expose our children to as much live music as possible. Music just might be the evolutionary force of Creation, and the secret to a creative, evolving and beautiful future.
May your life be filled with the magic of music!