Jim Serian tells of the time when one of his congregation’s organizations, “The Women’s League,” wanted to announce a new project they had undertaken for the church. On that particular Sunday morning, during the announcement time, the President of the Women’s League came up to briefly describe the project and then the President called for all of the ladies of the league (a group made up mostly of 55 year old and up female saints) to “march up to the front of the sanctuary” so that the congregation could see the earnestness of their endeavor.
Serian was the pianist for the church, and decided to give the ladies a marching tune to encourage them as they came down the aisle. He started playing the children’s chorus, ’The Lord’s Army,’ to keep in step with the march. He says: “In MY head, I was hearing the familiar words, ’I may never march in the infantry, ride in the cavalry, shoot the artillery…
Unfortunately, everyone else was hearing the words of the original tune, ’The old gray mare, she ain’t what she used to be, ain’t what she used to be, ain’t what she used to be…’”
He said “When the surprised Women’s League President asked why I was playing that tune, I got so flustered, I couldn’t answer, so I just left through the side door.”
Music… Music can change a person’s mood, opinion, attitude, and it is universal. Put a Rabbi, a Muslim, and a Catholic in the same room, blaring music over speakers, and they’ll each react. The reactions may not, most likely will not, be the same, but it will cause a reaction.
When I was young, and wanted to cry, I’d put on weepy love songs (it’s like the Harlequin novels of music). If I wanted to dance I’d throw on something upbeat and lively. If I wanted to drown out a chore, or task, crank up the heavy metal. Need I name the artists? Ha, not happening. You’ve got enough insight to my quickly deteriorating age. I’m not helping you anymore other than to say I do remember my crush on Andy Gibb and Shawn Cassidy.
Who isn’t moved by music? All music. You can be moved to turn it off and quickly look at your child asking, “You call that music?” On the other hand, you may slowly turn the volume up to a car thumping down the road level making arm movements and head bouncing as though you are having a seizure; meanwhile, the unwilling victims of your crazed passion sit idly in their cars, video phones rolling, for the next Youtube opportunity.
I. Music often carries messages to our lives.
Music can carry a message of love. For example: How many of you (when you were dating) had one song that was “your song?” When a couple is in love they’ll often speak of a particular song as being “Our song” because it triggers memories of the intimacy and affection they shared from the beginning.
Music can also speak to us of depression. Country music is known for this kind of message. Many of these songs tell stories of lost loves and ruined relationships. Do you know what happens if you play a Country Song backwards? The guy gets his house back, his wife back, his truck back…
Songs written back in the 60’s had a special message as well. Do you remember what the underlying theme of music back in the 60’s? Protest. They protested the war, they protested against authority, they protested against anyone telling them what to do and where to go.
And then there is music that communicates anger, rage, defiance. Music styles such as Heavy Metal and RAP often set forth this message – even when you can’t understand the words.
Music communicates to us… in fact music’s ability to communicate is so powerful that even the military recognizes it’s importance. Believe it or not, at the “Pentagon’s School of Music” it takes 15 months of instruction to produce one bandleader. By contrast the Air Force takes 13 months to train a jet pilot.
Music has power…
… power to communicate
… power to inspire
… power to change
According to Don Campbell (founder of Institute for Music, Health and Education) music can communicate to us even when we’re not influenced by the words of a song.
He says “music impacts physiology on a deep, basic level. The human heartbeat is especially attuned to sound – changes in tempo and volume act as natural pacemakers. Breathing slows down or speeds up along with the music.”
In addition “Music has a direct effect on the function of the brain. It can slow down and equalize brain waves to create a meditative state… or it can energize brain waves, quickening, the thinking process and enhancing creativity.”
Even the cells of your body respond to music. A study at MSU found that just 15 minutes of listening to music could increase levels of immune chemicals – vital to protect against disease. By contrast, the release of cortisol (the “stress hormone”) dropped by up to 25%.
(source: “Bottom Line –Tomorrow” Sept 1998 p. 9)
What’s all this tell us?
It tells us that music is a powerful force.
It communicates messages to our lives.
It communicates messages to our hearts.
It communicates messages to our minds
And even the very cells of our bodies.
Knowing all we know, the history of music, how it can be used, how music is a gift, why are we taking it out of our schools? It is considered an “elective” and “special” and when we are cutting funding to public education we start by eliminating these non-core classes.
What will happen in our world if we lose the art of music?
I know… I know… this is a church blog, and yet nothing about religion or how music applies to God is even remotely touched. Hang tight, and check back. There is definitely more to come.