“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”— Maya Angelou
There are so many quotes, so many resource materials referring to the power of music. Those that have known me for any length of time know just how big a role music plays in my life. I sing in an all-women’s, a cappella chorus that is devoted primarily to barbershop-style music. We sing for 3-4 hours each week. There are times when your load is so heavy, you are reluctant to leave it at the door, but by the end of the evening, you are floating on air.
Music allows you the opportunity to become another person for each song; live their life, experience their sorrow, joy, pain, etc. When it’s done really well, you might get goosebumps, chills, a tingle in your spine, or inexplicably start crying. Even if it’s not a song, relatable to you, it’s fun to pretend; become the character of each song. After a recent patriotic performance by my chorus, a woman approached me and spoke of how inspired she had been by our passion. Singers that aren’t passionate are very boring.
Music is an outlet for many who have difficulty communicating. It tells a story. Our friend that writes and records rap music speaks of it as his outlet. He came from a very disadvantaged background. Music is where he could release the frustrations and anger of his situation without resorting to violence. There are even tales of people suffering from dementia that cannot remember people or conversations, yet can sing an entire song from their past. My own grandmother, while suffering from dementia would often burst into rousing performances of La Marseilles, the anthem of France. She was French, met my grandfather on the coast of Normandy during World War II, married and returned with him to the United States. She never returned to France but she could still sing that song.
When I was growing up, at home with my parents, I often found myself at the piano after unusually tough days. For me, the sadder the song, the better I felt. The theme from Romeo and Juliet was often a favorite to play, on those days. Music helped me survive adolescence, high school, college, and graduate school.
Even if you don’t play an instrument and can’t carry a tune in a bucket, listening to music is just as therapeutic. Do you have a favorite artist? favorite song? favorite lyrics? How has music been your refuge?