As a songwriter, composer and musician, I sometimes take for granted the power of music. But that’s changing.
Think back to significant or memorable moments in your life and chances are there is a soundtrack etched in your mind that accompanies those memories. For me, certain songs take me back to my childhood and family vacations to Florida or the Great Smoky Mountains, other songs take me back to my high school years, while some songs bring somber memories flooding back of saying goodbye to friends and family at their funerals while playing their memorable songs.
The power of music is reaching all aspects of our world. Music is being used in treating mental health. Music is being used to treat pain before and after surgery. Music is being used to aid in sleeping. Music is being used in the classroom to help create the best atmosphere for learning. Music is being used to unlock emotions and memories of dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. This excites me tremendously because it’s personal. Very personal.
When I first sat down at the piano at the age of three, one person became my champion and supported me through those painful years of a child’s ego trying to find every way possible to get out of daily practice. This is the person that encouraged me through the highs and lows of chasing music dreams and coming so close many times to my “big break” only to face the realities of the business of music.
I’m guessing that you have probably figured out that I’m talking about my mom. You see, the power of music unlocking memories is of great interest to me because it holds great potential for my mom. She has suffered with dementia for about five years now, and every day it is getting worse, but when music is involved, she is a different person.
I learned to play on the piano she worked and saved for, and finally purchased about 8 years before my birth. The music that was inside of her found its way out through the keys of that piano, and that piano unlocked the music inside of me. I watched her play it growing up and I watch her today sit at that same piano, now in my home, and remember those songs she played many decades ago. It is absolutely remarkable to see someone become the person they used to be, if only for the length of a song. Music is powerful.
There’s a video that I can’t watch without getting emotional because it not only illustrates the power of music to someone who has dementia, but it is playing out in front of my very eyes. Take a moment to go watch it and see what great things are being done with music.
This music industry is not what it was a decade ago, much less two decades ago. With the advent of recording technology and digital distribution, sharing the music in your heart with the world has never been easier. In the video previously mentioned, music was loaded onto an iPod, but today, playlists can be the vessel that unlocks those memories; playlists filled with songs that we write, songs that we play. These are songs that will become part of the soundtrack for our listeners’ memories.
Composing is my therapy. Composing is the voice of my soul. With every song I write, my hope is that the songs may do something greater than just generate streams and royalties. My hope is that I will continue to hear stories from people listening to one of my songs and being given a moment of reprieve from their illness, their grief or their pain. My hope is that the power of music is experienced by everyone who listens, even if I don’t actually hear from them.
Don’t get me wrong. Getting that notification again that one of my songs has been added to an editorial playlist does cross my mind often, but so does my mom. So do the countless others who are looking for comfort in the midst of loss or peace in the midst of a storm. The business side of music is one thing, the humanity side is another. Some things are priceless.
The power of music is real. Let’s use it to make the world a better place!