Music As Magic

I once looked up the root word for music and found (somewhere) that it had the same origins as the word magic. For those of us who are musicians, that’s not surprising. Music is magical. It can totally change things.

The power of music is being studied seriously in many places. It has the power to make significant changes in the brain. Oliver Sacks has written about his observations and he isn’t the only one.
Part of the problem with using music in a larger way is that we do not agree about what music has what effect. I might find something peaceful and soothing but you might find the same piece boring and mindless. You might enjoy a piece that is for you energizing and uplifting but I might find that the same music made me crazy and made me want to run away screaming. Since we live in what is still, we hope, a free society, no one can come along and say, “THIS MUSIC IS CALMING. Those who do not agree will be sent to jail.” Let’s hope not!
Nevertheless, how bad would it be to pipe in smooth soft jazz in a jail during lunch time or some relaxed “meditation” music at bedtime? Wouldn’t it a good tool? What if certain music made it easier for students in school to focus and concentrate? Wouldn’t it make sense to use that music for the benefit of the students?
The answer is yes but somehow or other people would find a way to disagree over the music itself and how it would be used. In a society where everyone has a say, no matter who they are, there is a lot of time wasted arguing. (Just look at Congress!)
Trying to get singing teachers to agree upon anything related to singing or the teaching thereof is like herding cats. That this is so takes us away from magic-making and away from the power of the music to lift us up and help us transcend our differences. After all, do we really care how someone is trained or who did the training if the singing is sublime? We shouldn’t (but sadly, some people do). Further, the connection that music allows us to make with emotion is one of its most powerful tools. Yet, there are musicians who disavow that music has to do with emotional expression and say the two are unrelated. I don’t understand how that could possibly be the case, but it is a point of view that’s out there and has been for a long time.
The only way for any of us to enter into the magic of the music is to open ourselves to that experience without having any preconceived ideas ahead of time about what that means or how it should look. Then, as long as you do not resist, the music can transport you to other realms, taking you to universes you have long forgotten.
If you think of yourself as a magician who makes magic through music, your perspective about what you are doing might change quite a bit. Try it sometime and see how it goes. You could be very surprised.
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