This week we have seen unspeakable violence towards primary school children and their teachers. This is not the place to dwell on the myriad of issues that surround gun control for the US. However, as a Christian and a musician I wonder at the role music can take in situations like this.
People listen to music for many different reasons, for example to relieve boredom at work, to escape from the stresses of life, to enjoy and admire the skills of composers and performers to name but a few. Many of the reasons centre on the ‘otherness’ of life, expanding our life experience so it is broader, fuller and more complete. When listening, our intellect is teased, our emotions replenished – we can face our lives with a sense of renewal and energy.
Those are valid reasons to listen to music, but how could music help the parent who has just lost a child in horrific circumstances? As part of my role in my church, I regularly choose a list of songs the congregation then sings together. In America, people like me are doing exactly the same job in their local churches – compiling a list of songs that people can sing or listen to, to help them in their daily lives. Where would the christian musicians start in the churches in Newtown, Connecticut?
If you type in ‘Music can heal’ into a search engine (one that pays corporation tax of course!), you will find a seemingly endless list of articles, web sites, research sites and other sites claiming that music can heal. One site claims that music can reduce stress, sharpen the intellect and bring greater relaxation. The Bible includes an ancient story of a king who was ‘tormented by demons’. His mind was brought back to order when a local harp player strummed melodies and rhythms on his harp. The idea of wholeness through music, therefore, isn’t new.
Music can’t bring back lost loved ones, it can’t magically put money in the bank, food in the cupboard or clothes in the wardrobe. Neither will it be equally helpful for everyone. My hope and prayer, however, is that musical people in Newtown have the opportunity to use their skills and help to bring peace, healing, restoration and purpose to broken lives.Tim Farnhill lives and breathes music and loves to engage and educate aspiring musician to grow. He provides professional music services from private tuition (flute lessons, piano lessons, keyboard lessons) through to conducting, composing and arranging for choirs and orchestras. To find out more about Tim and the breadth of services he can provide, please visit timfarnhill.com