I write to Josh Groban.
No, not like sending him letters in the mail.
Like playing his songs while I type.
His music demands something. Creativity. Thought. A story. But not its own—Honestly, I can’t understand any of the Italian—instead, it lets me make up mine. His English words? They swirl around and around, blocking out the world. Blissful white noise that invites inspiration.
It’s funny, though. I can’t read to him. The book’s story has already been written. Groban’s music demands that I write my own. My own thoughts, imaginations, passions, heart.
Classical music is different. Like the book, there’s a story in it already. I can’t write to it unless I’m trying to capture the story in the notes. The sword fights, the chases, the pleading for understanding, the melodic embrace. I can try to read something else, try to write, but the story always ends up being the composer’s.
Country is like Classical. The lyrics already tell the story. I find myself creating the video. And then I hate it when I see the real one because it’s not the one I imagined in my mind.
Jazz? Well, at the risk of losing a potential group of readers, I hate to say it. But since I’ve promised to be as honest as I can… It knocks every single tidbit of thought out of my head!
My kids claim I don’t really mean all jazz, and they start listing singers that I’ve enjoyed. Like Dean Martin. I told them Dean Martin didn’t sing Jazz. He sang Pop. They say he sang Jazz.
I googled it. They’re wrong.
No, of course not everything on Google is true, but this time it agrees with me, so it must be right! Right?
Okay, in case somehow, somewhere, there’s a different site that proves once again I’m “not-there-yet” and possibly wrong, perhaps there are different types of jazz. I haven’t studied it long enough to understand its nuances.
Because, again, when I listen to it, it completely zaps my brain.
Like poor Harrison Bergeron’s father, George, in Kurt Vonnegut, Jr’s incredibly sad satire:
“Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains.”
No, wait! I’m not saying I’m incredibly intelligent! Just that Jazz zaps my brain, making all thoughts flee like George’s “bandits from a burglar alarm.” I couldn’t write to it if my life depended on it.
Because the purpose of Jazz is to relax. Breath. Just veg.
So who cares? Why would I write a post on this? And why should you read it?
Well, I suppose if you run a Starbucks or a McDonalds where I tend to do most of my writing, you can know I won’t stay long if you have loud Jazz playing.
But the rest of you?
Simple. I’m betting you’re the same. Not necessarily about Josh Groban or Jazz.
But about music itself. Affecting you.
I have devoted a whole category on this site to that idea: “Tuned to My Heart.”
In most cases, posts there are about specific songs and how they grab me.
But sometimes it’s a type of music that’s the getter.
The proof in the pudding? Pandora. You type in one song you love, and the web giant creates a whole station of like-tunes for you.
Some of you must appreciate that idea. As of last month, Pandora claimed 78 million active listeners. (I knew it wasn’t just me!)
Once for a science fair, my daughter did a science experiment on the effect of music in the classroom. I’m sure you’ve heard of similar studies. In general, they tell us how playing Beethoven to our babies will give them genius IQs.
And since I encourage my kids to choose science fair topics that will be helpful,
(what type of detergent cleans stains the best, what type of water keeps cut roses fresh, what type of fat tastes best in cookies—yep, all previous Daghfal-kid science fair experiments)
and since I found us arguing about what type of music they listened to while they studied,
(“Just because you LIKE the music doesn’t mean it helps you learn”)
the end game was inevitable.
My daughter arranged with her 5th grade teacher to let her test her class. (THANK YOU, Mrs. Merow!)
Five days, four types of music (with a control of no music at all), and ten tests (two a day: one reading comprehension, one 100-multiplication facts).
The result? Well, her classmates weren’t loving her for making them take tests. Even though she brought them cookies.
But the “scientific” outcome? The best type of music to play in the classroom?
It depended on the subject. Take Country music: It was great for multiplication. Horrible for reading. (Like I said, Country wants to tell its own story.)
But let’s change the setting.
If I need my kids to clean the house quickly? Pop Country’s gonna get the job done.
Or any Musical.
Or Southern Gospel. Especially Southern Gospel. Everyone sings. Everyone smiles. Everyone cleans in record time.
When I wake up in the morning? If I’m driving? (Don’t worry. Two separate situations, not one and the same.) My radio is set to Christian music. It helps me readjust my thinking. Sets my mind on good things. “Things above.”
If I find myself struggling with my thoughts? Sometimes the answer is just a note away: what kind of music am I listening to…what am I not…
Music is a zillion-dollar industry. Hey, the longest book of the Bible is all songs, so we know music and lyrics affect us.
So what about you? What singing group pumps you up? What do you think to? What shuts you down? What makes you cry? What touches your heart?
It may not be the same as me, but I’d like to know…
even if it’s Jazz. *wink*
Like an example of how a specific song touched me? Here’s a post I wrote on Lauren Daigle’s incredible piece, “I Will Trust in You”. The Lord has used it in countless situations!
Out of My Hands
2 thoughts on “Musing to the Music”
To answer your questions specifically….all the oldies from 1970s pop music pumps me up, makes me feel young again, brings back fond memories. Disney’s “You’ll be in my Heart” (Tarzan) makes me cry. My girls loved that movie growing up and my daughter chose that song at her wedding for the Father-Daughter dance–while her sister and I wept on the sidelines. Billy Joel’s “Leningrad” touches my heart. Of course, these are just small samples. I could make lists.
I played classical music for my art students when they worked on their projects (sometimes other genre but mostly classical). Since they were doing right-brained work primarily, I didn’t want left-brained words to interfere with their productivity.
I love listening to music in the car (especially long road trips), while cleaning house, or doing menial things. But I need peace and quiet when I’m writing a story. I need to listen to my own inner music then. Even if a certain song originally inspires a thought, story, or character, I need the actual silence in which to write about it.
I love how different songs inspire you in different ways. They hold memories, emotions… It’s no wonder music therapy is becoming more and more important in emotional and mental care. Thank you for all the examples of songs and styles that affect you.