Because music sets the mood for life, I do not nor could I ever have a favorite song, artist, or style of music. To choose would limit one to a stoic way of life. Music is an art form with many colors. As everyone knows the world is not black and white. Some music styles that please me include Latin American hip hop, dramatic movie themes like Unbroken, country with American Young, Broadway musical theater, Baroque Classical, Celtic, jazz, and gospel worship. Styles like Latin American hip hop test my language abilities; movie themes such as those from “Unbroken” persuade me of the power of perseverance; jazz takes me back in time to the brilliant and energetic world of my grandparents. Music speaks many languages. It explains a culture such as the Spanish, it intensifies the actions of unbreakable men such as Louis Zamperini, and it can retell the highlights of the 1940s era. Music matters for more than this.
Music causes extraordinary health benefits, increases intelligence, and deepens overall enjoyment of life. In numerous cases science shows how music causes physical healing from speech loss to psychological and emotional stability. Not only does it heal but it fosters higher focus and greater intelligence. Music heals the patient. Lullabies put to sleep newborns. Classical music increases focus. Gospel worship inspires man’s love for God, for like the steady movement of a violin bow lifting off the strings, so our hearts and souls lift up to God. Good music will be beautiful music by its very nature.
Good music has rhythm. It also has harmony, complexity, dynamics, emotional appeal, and story-like flow. Of course good music is not limited to the above, but one of the most important attributes of good music is the story. Neither the individual nor the experts determine good music. No, good music unites. From the orphaned child on the street to the New York Philharmonic first chair violinist both hear the same story and both bring their life experience which influences the way the music sounds. The goodness of the music does not change. That is innate but the experience does. Good music has a beginning, middle, and an end. It leaves the individual with something to hold onto that increases the meaning of existence. In this way, good music changes lives.
It changed mine. My first experience with Broadway musical theater in New York City turned me upside down in my front row seat. I will never forget the first scene from Wicked. Slowly and steadily the actors approached the edge of the stage creeping closer and closer to where I sat until I could see the white of their eyes. I stopped hearing and started seeing a silent fervor imparted by their eyes. I will never forget many things that music pressed harder than diamond into my mind. I will never forget peeking down into the orchestra pit every few minutes to make sure the music was not coming straight from heaven. I will never forget hearing “my song” as Elphaba lifted off the floor defying the weight of gravity. I will never forget in that moment my immediate resolve to defy gravity like never before. I would champion the way gravity kept pulling me down every time I vault. Wicked does not just tell the story about the Wicked Witch of the West. It tells me my story. Music elevates me to new heights literally. In that moment, music caused the pursuit of something higher than myself. When I vault tipping instantly upside down, I pray that the pounding rhythm of my feet and the lunging whoosh of my body and the uncoiling pop of my pole is humming for the world to hear the musical notes of my song.
I vault for more than myself. I vault so others might have the chance to hear their story. First we hear then we see. Did not Jesus say the same thing? Like faith, music is a way of life. It elevates us to “do life” for more than ourselves.
P.S Yes, this blog was a Hillsdale homework assignment.
P.S.S Yes this paper is about music, and yes I ended with pole vaulting.
Gratitude: Thanks to Peter Draugalis for capturing me in action.