“Music can change the world because it can change people.” – Bono
Music is powerful
Here’s something I’ve been re-learning recently: music is powerful.
I mean, I’ve known this for years. And I’m not the only one. Research has told us that music:
- Reduces pain and anxiety.
- Relieves stress.
- Improves memory.
- Helps aid brain injury recovery (like strokes).
In fact, several years ago I worked with a client that was focused on music therapy. If you do a quick Google search, you’ll see that this type of therapy can help improve communication, promote physical rehabilitation, enhance memory, alleviate pain, and more.
Music is cross-cultural. Around the world, people use music to express feelings, form bonds, tell stories, and more.
“No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” – Billy Joel
My history with music
The early years
Growing up in my household, I was surrounded by music. As the daughter of a music teacher, we regularly listened to music as we drove around in the car, heard it in the background as we cleaned the house, listened to flute students throughout the week, and participated in choirs, bands, and music lessons over the years. While music was never forced, it was very much encouraged and fostered, and I really enjoyed it. I also took it for granted.
It’s taken me about 15 years to realize just how much I took it for granted.
As a young adult
I was involved in music formally through college because I had a music scholarship; I was required to take lessons and participate in band. After college, I moved back home and joined my church’s handbell choir again, and regularly picked up instruments to play with my folks while we were back under the same roof.
But then, I started working full time, moved out, and began dating my husband. My schedule got busier. I started planning a wedding on top of driving 3 hours round-trip to see my fiancé when we could have time together. He was working at a church, so I started attending with him to make sure we were on the same page in terms of how we wanted God to be central to our lives together. We got married and moved out of state. Slowly, over the course of a few years, I went from being very involved with music to just singing along at church and dancing around my kitchen as I cooked dinner. Every once in a while I’d pick up my flute or play a bit of piano, but as we started having kids, those times became fewer and further between.
Catching up to now
Fast forward to about a year ago, and I realized I really missed music. And not just playing music in general, but actively praising God with music.
While a lot of my experience with music was at school, the majority of it was spent at church: singing in the children’s choir and later high school choir, playing in the handbell choir, sharing special music during a service with my mom, accompanying her children’s choir on the piano, etc.
Now, a decade and a half later, I still sang praise songs at church and at home, but I wasn’t intentional about it. I started feeling a drive to make it a bigger part of my life.
This happened to coincide with my husband starting a new job as a pastor, so after a few months of feeling a strong desire to sing on the worship team, I acted on it. While I’d sung in small groups here and there, I hadn’t done much singing where I was an exposed lone voice since I was about 11, so I felt a bit nervous about it. It’s been about three months since I’ve started, and I can clearly see it’s a way God wants me to serve our church right now. And I’ve been loving it.
Turning music back to God
I’ve also been learning to be more intentional about praising God with songs throughout the week.
I happened to be listening to the Brant & Sherri Oddcast (which I don’t listen to as often these days), and Brant was talking about this. Between 2:40 and 3:40 of episode 1742, Brant said:
When the Bible tells us to praise God: “That’s for us, cuz when you do that, you remind yourself of all these magnificent things . . . that reminds you you don’t need to be anxious. It’s for you. Sing the songs, this is good for you.”
How true this is! God doesn’t need us to praise Him; it’s not for His ego. It’s because He knows it helps us remember Him––His perspective, grace, mercy, love, generosity, and more than I can list here.
I can see the benefit, too. I’ve caught myself feeling moody, focusing on myself and how I feel. When I turn up the music and start praising God, my perspective shifts and I remember it’s not all about me. Yes, it’s still often when I cook dinner or drive around (I still have a full-time job, three kids, and now we work in ministry), but I’m making an attempt to stop and really listen to the lyrics I’m singing. And I can tell it makes a difference.
At some point, I’d love to start playing the piano again or learn how to play the guitar (I learned a couple of cords a few years ago, but just haven’t had the time to make it a priority to keep at it). I don’t think this is the season. I also don’t think this is the season for me to join a handbell choir or some sort of band.
But I’m optimistic the season where music can have a larger role in my life again will come.
In the meantime, I’m going to keep praising God in my kitchen every day, and in my church on the worship team.
Music comes from God
Music is a gift from God. As Martin Luther said:
“. . . [music] is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us.”
I think that’s one of the reasons music is so universal. God gave it to us. It’s a way to express joy, sadness, fun, grief, silliness, stories, and love. It transports us back to other season of our lives and helps us see how much we’ve grown from where we are now. Most of all, it gives us a way to express praise to God for everything He’s done for us that we don’t deserve.
Curious about the tunes I’m currently rocking out to? Check out my current Spotify playlist!
I always love checking out new songs, too! What are some of your favorites? Drop them in the comments below.