Music good for the soul
Music is good for our soul and spirit.  “Music, of all the arts, stands in a special region, unlit by any star but its own, and utterly without meaning … except its own.”     This is Leonard Bernstein’s take on music, and especially the first part lights me up this grey and rainy morning, the morning after I had the great pleasure to attend a concert of Christmas music put on by the Oratorio Singers of St. Andrew Wesley’s Church. Music - good for the soul

What an evocative way to open the season of Advent, which means Coming.  Comings can be full of richness and wonder (as offered in an earlier post, Advent Revisited).  From that post: “another Coming I would like to acknowledge this Advent is the possible coming of the Great Turning, Johanna Macy’s name for the essential adventure of our time: “the shift from the industrial growth society to a life-sustaining civilization.”  

As the Climate talks in Paris continue, let us all send our prayers, thoughts, emails, calls, positive energy…. in that direction, both to be with all the victims of radical violence, and to encourage and hasten the turn toward sanity, justice, equity.  (I think Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Brahma, Jahweh, and all the others… up there, out there, in here…. would be most pleased!)

Music - good for the soul And to Music again.  The links to spirit are close and deep!  I treasure playing the piano (happily Mike likes it too!), and singing in a choir.  And I notice that not all music lights me up equally.  It is illuminating exercise to feel into the body, the soul and spirit, and notice the effects of different music… it’s cellular, and a wonderful exercise in mindfulness…to attune to the resonance.

I especially warm to an observation by Glenn Kurtz, (a guitarist who started, stopped, and restarted his musical life), about what it’s like when music really lands in us:

Each note rubs the others just right, and the instrument shivers with delight. The feeling is unmistakable, intoxicating. When a guitar is perfectly in tune, its strings, its whole body will resonate in sympathetic vibration, the true concord of well-tuned sounds. It is an ancient, hopeful metaphor, an instrument in tune, speaking of pleasure on earth and order in the cosmos, the fragility of beauty, and the quiver in our longing for love.”

YES!

Music - good for the brainAnd there so very much more to music as well.  If you’re interested, here’s cool short animation how music affects the brain, both listening and playing.  Turns out music is astonishingly manifold in its benefits, soul and spirit, as we know, but also health, intelligence, creativity, our capacity for movement, interconnections, recovery from injury and strokes, our immune systems… wow!

It affects the innermost reaches of our brain.  The neuroscience is revealing some remarkable details, and the data keep unfolding.  Google music and the brain, and you’ll find some fascinating studies!   Here’s one, featuring the late, great Oliver Sachs.

And here is another site which enumerates the many reasons music, and learning an instrument, is good for us, including strengthening our brains!  Check out Musical U :-)

I’d love to hear how music features in your life!   May music light you up this holiday season, bring you joy, connection, peace.

Jill Schroder is the author of BECOMING: Journeying Toward Authenticity.  BECOMING is an invitation for self-reflection, and to mine our memorable moments for insights, meaning, and growth.  Check the website for a sample chapter, or see the reviews to get a flavor for the volume.  Follow me on Twitter, let’s be friends on Facebook :-)

 PS The Christmas before Bernstein died, at age 72, he conducted Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in Berlin to celebrate the crumbling of the wall. He died just five days after retiring…
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