Sunday, September 22, 2013

Part 1: The (Healing) Power of Music

My choir director said singing in choir is like mindfulness. It took me a moment to comprehend her statement - I thought she meant meditation - while contemplating instances where music brings me to the present, to the sheet music, listening to others sing, hearing harmonious notes, and the like as she said, namely being aware and present. (My apologies for this outdated picture; however, it's the one that best captures the essence of this posting!)

I believe that dancing and walking, at times, are my primary forms of meditation. However, I can see that singing can be as well, during choir at least for me, as so often I sing while doing something else. For example, I may sing while I work (more so in past) or walking or bathing. This is why it took me a moment to understand her comment.

I have always loved music, have felt its deep and powerful influence – it’s no wonder I didn’t become a music therapist – as music moves me figuratively and literally, the latter as I have a hard time sitting still while listening to music, whether I am part of an audience or not. My body cannot help but to move while I sit, even if it is only my head nodding slightly or one foot tapping. I question how people can sit like a rock, especially when listening to infectious or contagiously happy music.

Does your body feel inclined to move when you hear music or not? (There is no right or wrong answer here by the way.)

Music moves me emotionally as well, primarily to the two seemingly extreme opposite emotions of joy and sadness. I say that as there is actually a fine line between the two. (One place I experienced this was in David McMurray Smith’s clowning class, If you haven’t experienced this personally, you probably witnessed it. For instance, young children and infants in particular can cry one moment and then laugh the next, and vice versa.

I have been moved to tears more often than not as a cathartically healing expression of music, sometimes to tears of joy as a result of such exquisite ethereal-sounding music, usually instrumental or classical. At other times lyrics strike a resonant chord within me, especially when they imitate my life which fuels teary eyes.

What I have come to notice over the years is that I tend to, almost always if not always, hear the music first. If I like it – I’m drawn to the beat first and foremost – then I’m inclined to listen to the words. It’s rarely the other way around. Besides, quite often music drowns out the words in songs.

Do you find that you too tend to hear the music before the words in a song?

Music is so healing, isn’t it?
It can be a vehicle for emotional catharsis whether you are releasing or uplifting your spirit. And it is such a collective universal soul experience: one common language we have as a race of people on planet earth.

What types of music do you find healing? Is there a particular genre that soothes and calms you? Settles and grounds you? Inspires you? Buoys your spirit?


  1. Thanks for sharing your beautiful blog! Anonymous

  2. "A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence"- Leopold Stokowski. Music is the most powerful energy, it is the poem of this Universe. I truly agree with you Elly!. Back to your question, any world rhythm inspire me, heal me and invite me to continue exploring its colors and tones.

  3. Thanks for the beautiful quote - love it! - and your feedback. I love world rhythm music too! :) <3