The Universal Gift of Music

When I was in college, I had the opportunity to travel overseas to Europe and Asia with performing groups. These trips were memorable and eye opening. Even though we couldn’t speak the same language, the universal language of music and a smile broke down any language barriers that existed through not being able to communicate through words.

Where words fail, music speaks.

I found this to be true back then and continues to be true today. A few weeks ago my family and I went to an assisted living facility to do a musical Christmas program for some of the residents in the memory care. Sharing a musical program to what used to be called “an old folk’s home” is a favorite tradition that I carried over to my family from when I was a child. My children have participated as soon as they are old enough to shake a jingle bell. This is one of the best parts of Christmas, sharing our gifts with others.

We provided a Christmas variety show with piano, flutes, alto flute, pan flutes, drums, tambourine, jingle bells, and singing. While some of the residents can’t communicate very well through words, due to health issues and loss of brain functions, the smiles on their faces said it all. We performed for nearly an hour and none of them became restless. They wished for more.

Why do we learn to play or sing music? Why to do spend so much time practicing to really master a skill? Why do we sacrifice so much time and effort and money (thanks moms and dads and grandparents)? It is for times such as these.

Music is that language that connects our hearts together in spite of race, religion, ethnicity, language, lack of brain function, or any other barrier. Music speaks from one soul to another soul. How blessed we are to have the universal gift of music!

Have Instrument. Will Travel.

Yesterday we played for a funeral for a close family member. They just held a graveside service and naturally, there was not an organ or a piano at the cemetery. It was wonderful to easily transport our instruments (flutes, guitar, and cello) so we could provide some music.

For occasions such as this, you usually don’t get a lot of advanced notice before needing to perform. That’s when it’s a blessing to be experienced enough as a musician to able to have a rehearsal one night and perform the next day.

Why do we study, practice, and learn music? To just play for ourselves or to share that talent with others? Even though music is extremely rewarding individually…

I was taught that music is a gift to bless other people’s lives.

I’ve tried to pass this philosophy on to my children and to my students. Playing music with my daughters yesterday brought peace to not just me but also to everyone else there.

If you are a musician, please travel and always be willing to share your gift with others wherever you go.