When my daughter was 3 years old we were in the car and instead of listening to Radio Disney I decided to introduce her to a genre she wasn't at all familiar with: Classical. First song up was Samuel Barber's “Adagio for Strings,” performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
It was extremely quiet in that back seat for a while. But soon she inquired, "Mama, what kind of music is this?" Ah…I thought. She’s paying attention. I said, "This is called classical, honey."
We drove a little farther and I heard whimpering coming from behind me. When I turned around there were tears streaming down her face. What had happened in-between last we spoke and now? “What's the matter, baby?” I asked. She was sobbing. "Oh Mama, classical music is so sad."
Yes it is my girl. Yes it is. She just discovered something new and intense about the world and its offerings—sound is powerful. Out of respect for the full experience, I let the piece finish and then I switched to something less emotional: Elmo.
It's never pleasant to see your child cry. I was however, relieved that even at the tender young age of 3, she had the capacity to be moved so deeply. This is what we want art to do to us. Right? When she calmed down, we had our first of what would be many spirited conversations about what music is and how it enriches us. How it allows us to express and receive passion in a language without words.
It's no wonder Samuel Barber's “Adagio for Strings,” was the piece that most often accompanied the televised footage of the falling Twin Towers. It's not like we needed to be any sadder or more horrified than we already were but perhaps it was the only piece qualified to usher us through what happened on 9/11 and help us process our grief.
Music shifts us. Changes our perspective. Opens our eyes. Our hearts. It elicits feelings we've only been on the verge of.
So today, whether you’re deliriously happy or morbidly miserable, Thank God for Music. Whether you’re afraid to go to yoga or your place of worship Thank God for Music. Whether you found your true love or lost the only one you ever had, whether you’re welcoming your child into the world or burying a friend, whether you’re still waiting to hear your first single on the radio or celebrating your fifth #1 Thank God for Music.
I honestly can’t imagine a world without it. How colorless and quiet it would be. Of course we could exist but life would be as bland as food without flavor, sex without love, a rainbow in shades of gray.
“You know what music is? God’s little reminder that there’s something else besides us in this universe; harmonic connection between all living beings, every where, even the stars.” - Robin Williams