Why not music?

I grew up in a generation that seemed to be surrounded by music…classical music. It was in concert halls, churches, movies…and cartoons.

Yes, cartoons.

There are some pieces of music that even now I can’t listen to without seeing the characters…

I didn’t know what the music was at the time, but I recognized it when I heard it in its musical context in concerts or on our FM radio station. And I think that surrounding of us with these pieces gave us an appreciation for music without it being forced on us.

Then things began to change.

I don’t remember what the name of the cartoon was (perhaps a Batman cartoon?), but I remember that there was no music…or at least, none that  I was aware of. Instead, there were word clouds: “Bang!” “Pow!”

It didn’t take long before that became the norm, and music was shoved aside. Not just in cartoons, but also in school as well.

And we’ve become poorer for it.

Music has become an “extra” far too often in schools…something that is first on the chopping block when budgets need to be cut.

And, at least in my own denomination, music–at least classical music–is often seen as something that might be nice but that doesn’t relate well with the “average” person (whoever that might be!). To sponsor a fine arts program? well, if there’s money in the budget, we might be able to do that…but what’s the purpose? Where’s the value?

There have been lots of studies that show that music (and the other arts) help children learn. They help us connect to other people…to the world around us…to the creative parts of who we are.

Music is a language…a language that helps us express emotions and feelings that we have no words for. It helps us connect to the Divine. It is a universal language, even if it is expressed in different forms.

And so…why not music? Why not…in our schools, our homes, our churches?

Music is the voice of the soul

The hardest thing

One of the hardest lessons I have ever learned (and am still learning) is that it is impossible to make everything right…to “fix” things…for the ones you love.

When you first hold your child or grandchild, you have all kinds of hopes and dreams. You want life to go smoothly for them…you want them to be the best they can be. You want their dreams to come true.

But life doesn’t always work that way.

If we could make decisions for them, we think that life would be so much better. From our life experience, we could help them avoid the challenges and mistakes that we might have made.

Yet if life went that way, they would be our “puppets.” That’s not what we want.

Our children and grandchildren have the rights to make their own decisions and choices…even when we disagree…even when we can see further down the road and know that those decisions will have negative impacts on their lives.

Our pillows can be soaked with tears. Our stomachs can clench every time we see their phone numbers come up on our phones–as we wonder what problem we’re going to hear about now. We sometimes wonder if our prayers for them are going anywhere.

There are sometimes things we could do to “fix” their lives in response to their poor choices…and yet, that doesn’t allow them to help them grow up and take responsibility for themselves and their own lives. Being an enabler–while it may be what we would love to do–only creates more problems for them. At some point they have to understand–maybe the hard way–that decisions have consequences.

Sometimes that may mean that they may hate us for a while.

It’s hard…yet if we–and they–can survive those difficult years, our loved ones can become who and what we want for them.

But…it’s the hardest lesson for all of us to learn…and (unfortunately) it’s an ongoing lesson.

“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.”
― Anne Frank