By Loraine Debnam
I think, at least for me, one of the most special things about this joyous season is the abundance of music wherever you go.
Schools, churches, clubs and many other venues offer a variety of concerts, often for a nominal fee. Sometimes the admission is only a freewill offering or a donation to the local food bank.
If it’s too cold or if you are housebound, the radio or television presents many performances by a diverse range of artists across many musical genres. The melodies and harmonies lift the spirit.
My favourite author, Sarah Ban Breathnach, says listening to music is to “soothe the spirit, inspire and move (us) to unexpected waves if sublime pleasure.” I certainly feel that way when I hear the strains of many of our beautiful Christmas songs, even some of the lighthearted jingles can make me smile. Perhaps with the exception of “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” — since I now fit into that age category.
I read somewhere music is one of the few things that can cross all of our manufactured barriers — language, culture, religion, ethnicity and even mental competency. Some incredibly talented people also support this idea and are sharing their musical gifts with others in the world.
Violinist Midori Goto has founded Midori and Friends, which is a non-profit organization that brings music education to underprivileged children. Cellist Yo-yo Mah believes music can act as a magnet to draw people together and is working to expose them to United Nations values through this medium. Conductor Daniel Barenboim, along with Palestinian Edward Said, founded the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra — which is a program to bring together young musicians from Israel and Arab countries. These prominent personalities volunteer their time, talent and passion for music to improve the lives of many others.
It is known music can be a beautiful source of pleasure and entertainment, but it can also be a potent foundation for healing.
Since the beginning of recorded history there is evidence bells, drums and rattles have been used by shamans to combat disease, depression and despair both in the body and in the soul.
It loosens the grip of the “here and now” and reaches beyond our conscious mind. Therapists have researched the benefits of music with Alzheimer patients to help them recover some of their inner bearings. Many respond in a positive way even though other therapies have failed to get them reconnected.
It is said listening to Mozart can help increase clarity and it is recommended when students are studying for an exam or groups are conducting creative brain-storming sessions. Apparently, since Mozart is regarded as a genius, his arrangement of musical notes has a positive effect on our brain patterns.
Once again, Sarah strikes the right note (pardon the pun) by reminding us when we “crave more than the sounds of silence, there is music for every mood.
It can restore a ravished soul, it can calm us when we are confined indoors because of illness, injury or inclement weather.”
And considering the temperatures the first few weeks of this month, I couldn’t agree more.