The Healing Power of Music

Greetings all.

I wanted to spend a little time in these pages talking about something I think we often (I know I have in the past) take for granted.  The power of music to heal.

I’m talking more in the framework of emotional catharsis here; but it also extends into some amazing work being done with music for everyone regardless of age:  from infants and children with mental and emotional disorders to elderly with dementia, Alzheimers, and Parkinsons.

You see, the last few months have seen some rather wild and challenging things happening in my world – dealing with the realities of health, welfare, and support.  Getting into specifics isn’t important.  What is important is this:  when you are faced with life changing/challenging situations, you naturally gravitate toward those things that offer comfort, solace, and strength.

For me, music is that.

Catharsis has always been a big thing that music offered me.  In playing the drums, you have full range of physical movements to match the emotions you’re feeling at any given time.  How many drummers have heard this before:  “It must be great to just beat on things.  You must feel really good when you do that.”  How many musicians have gotten to a gig in a bad mood, and by the end of the gig feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of their shoulders?  This is what music does.

We do feel good after putting some time in behind our respective instruments.

However, it’s not just the physical exertion aspect that is important here.  Music is something that trumps language.  It reaches (unless you are, in my humble opinion, dead inside) aspects of a person that transcend everything else.  To feel the pulse of a drum: primal, tribal, intimate… or the rumble of the bass, or jangle of a guitar, or any other instrument… music offers an emotional release and escape.

So, as a result of what has been going on in my world of late, I’ve been finding myself listening differently:

  • I’m listening to even more diverse music than I normally do
  • I’m having even deeper emotional reactions to said music

I have dropped down and connected on an even deeper level with this thing I was put on the planet to do.  That was a wild concept to even consider until I thought of this:  they say that music soothes the savage beast.  How appropriate.  In that statement the savage beast can be anything – emotional, physical, or otherwise.

As I’ve played over the last few months I have felt something different.  I feel more open.  I feel more connected.  I feel more like a vessel for the music and less about ‘dig these licks I’m playing’.

In the end, this makes me a better player.  Don’t get me wrong, that’s great.  But, even more importantly this also makes me a much better person.  I get to process this energy in me – energy that might have manifested itself as fretting, anger, fear, frustration… into this channel of groove and a wash of tones and colors.  All of which help to make a series of small ripples that (as naive and idealistic as it might be to consider) make the world a slightly better place.  Even if for a moment.

From pain and fear can come catharsis.  From frustration and anger can come a connection to something deeper.  Music is that bridge.  Drums are my vehicle.

What’s yours?

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