My teenagers had the privilege of participating in Honor Band at our school district this week. Our band director brings in guest conductors that spend two full school days rehearsing and teaching the kids. At the end, they put on a concert for the parents. I’m always amazed at how incredible and professional the Honor Band sounds after such a short time of preparation.
This year, we had a rather enthusiastic guest conductor who spoke passionately about the power of music in molding young minds. He pointed out that, in spite of some of the terrible things that go on in the world, it was a pleasure to witness so many young people come together from the far corners of our wide-spread district to create beauty.
I revel in the beauty of art, and I love it when one type of art form inspires another. I can go to an art gallery and see a painting, then find myself imagining a story to go with it. Or, I’ll make a craft that gets my creative juices flowing again when they’re stuck.
For me, music is central to my ability to weave a story.
When I was in high school, my English teacher required us to write in a fiction journal daily (something other students moaned about, but I relished, oddly enough). Once, she turned on some beautiful music, and a vision of a forest and a hunter swept over me until I was writing as fast as my pencil could fly. It was an incredible feeling, to be inspired like that.
I like to create “soundtracks” for the book I’m working on by collecting songs that convey the same mood I’m trying to create in my writing. If I’m having trouble finding the motivation to drag myself to my writing corner, all I have to do is turn on that soundtrack, and suddenly the words are flowing through my fingers.
I’ve often maintained that music is a type of magic. Certainly, it has a lot of power over me. It gives me courage, makes me silly, or cheers me up when I’m feeling sad.
Since we have four girls, the drama around my house can get pretty intense sometimes. One day, my teenager cheered up the younger girls by playing a silly YouTube cartoon song about unicorns and rainbows. It worked like a charm. I’ve had the dubious privilege of hearing that silly song over and over again, any time someone feels upset.
But I’m okay with that, because it makes us all happy. And that’s what art does best, I think: it brings joy into our lives.