Music has always been in my life. From my earliest memories, music was always present.
My Mom sang with a trio that performed not only in our church but traveled to other churches and events to sing. Over the years my Dad has been music teacher, choir director, singer, piano player, guitar player, banjo player and more. My big sis has been in choirs, traveling music groups and more. She and her hubby sang at their wedding as she walked down the aisle! I sang in the high school choir and am an avid car radio sing-alonger. My nieces and nephews have also been a part of choirs and my nieces are known for breaking out into song several (or many) times a day :).
Music is a constant in my life, even to the point that some of my strongest memories have a soundtrack attached to it.
The Influence of Music
Have you ever taken the time to notice the impact of a musical score in a movie? When the action starts to increase or when the scene gets tense, can you tell when the tone and the tempo of the music change?
The effect of music can be so subtle. When watching that tense moment you may not even be aware of the music at all, but try to watch that same moment without the music, and it just isn’t the same. Would the idea of Jaws be nearly as scary without the duh-duh, Duh-Duh, DUH-DUH music playing behind it? Would we feel the same without the music of Enya playing as Aragorn and Arwen have their quiet moment in The Fellowship of the Ring?
When you exercise what do you to listen to? Sometimes I listen to podcasts or audiobooks, at other times I select an upbeat playlist for motivation and to keep my pace up at a higher rate. I do not choose music with a tempo that will slow me down.
What about when you are planning a party or a romantic dinner for two, do you think about the background music? For the party you probably want something light, fun and energizing, but for the dinner for two you will want something soft and slower paced.
Music helps set the tone and the mood at an event. When you watch a concert take notice of the pace that the artist sets. At times they want you energized, standing up and clapping but at others they want to quiet the audience down and will play something with less energy. It takes a real understanding of the effect of music to control an audience that way, I find it quite fascinating.
Music hath charms to sooth a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.
That quote is often mis-quoted and stated as “music to calm the savage beast”. Which is also true! Music and the effect on dogs is another fascinating subject for another time. 🙂
Finding Stillness With Music
Music can also have a powerful impact on your mood and state of mind. My choice of playlist is a reflection of how I am feeling at that moment. Classical when I’m stressed, soft instrumental when I need to relax, and rock when I want more energy or driving in the car by myself.
So why not use this to our advantage? Finding stillness is not a passive activity, it is something we need to actively seek and make an intentional point of doing. It is a muscle that can be developed over time. Once we find that moment, many times we need help making the transition from action to stillness. It is something we may need to train ourselves to do. I believe music can be a tool to help make that transition.
Over the years I’ve been able to find music to help me focus when it is time to write. As I sit here typing I am using an app called Noisli, it is environmental sounds (wind, rain, train on train tracks, thunder etc.) that helps drown out the background and helps me focus on what is in front of me. It is now to the point that when my headphones are on and the app is playing my brain now knows it is time to go to work.
In the evening I have a playlist on my iPod called “Time to Relax”. This playlist includes the music of George Winston, William Ackerman, and David Lanz. Each album and song is selected to help me unwind, slow down and especially slow down the racing thoughts in my head. It has to be music without words, that isn’t distracting and has a much slower pace. This is also by go-to when I am relaxing, reading a book, or just sitting and being (working on that one… doesn’t happen as much as it needs to!).
Here Are Some Additional Resources That Might Help
The Psalms Collection from Worship.net – I love this DVD set, it gets pulled out on a regular basis. It combines incredibly beautiful video of God’s creation, with beautiful music and words of the Psalms on the screen. When I’m feeling anxious or stressed out this is a go-to music source for me.
Soaking In the Psalms – Christian Meditation – I have been doing some study and research on meditation. The research supporting the health benefits are amazing, but most of the resources out there do not sit well with my spiritual beliefs. This is the first resource I have come across that works and I am comfortable with sharing and using.
Pandora – Oh Pandora… how I love thee!
Totally responsible for a good chunk of my huge music collection! I have 3 stations that are my go-to chill out stations with David Lanz, George Winston & William Ackerman,