From the time that man was able to speak, he was also able to sing. When he learned how to make sound, he began making music. Harmony and rhythm are an integral part of our experience. When we are in a happy, celebratory mood, we play music or we sing. When we are sad, music is there to provide solace. For the past few months, I’ve been researching Negro spirituals, and while I thought I already knew a little about the power of music, I have realized that I have barely scratched the surface. In times of unrest and uncertainty, music has been used to build bridges and to communicate in a way that speaking or writing cannot. In music, our hopes, dreams, fears, and strength can be found.
For instance, Negro spirituals served a number of functions, and they still do. On the surface, many of these songs were viewed as Christian or religious songs. They were sung while enslaved Africans worked. It helped them to track the time and to pass the time. They, of course, were sung when they worshipped. Most importantly, they were also used to send messages to each other. If the enslaved Africans were planning to escape, every single thing they did could lead to their plans being thwarted, so they used their songs as a way to send coded messages to each other.
How can you deepen your relationship with music and benefit more from it? Instead of being a listener, try becoming a creator of music. There are so many instruments. There is, quite literally, one for everyone. And, of course, there is your voice. Without judgment, criticism, or comparison, try singing in your home, in your car, and experience how good it feels. Making music is excellent for your health. It challenges your brain and your motor skills. Music is powerful. It is magic. It is universal.
Note: This blog appeared as an article on 2/16/17 in the Kinney County Post.