The Value of Music

Oct 14

On Tuesday night I had the pleasure of attending my daughter’s high school choir concert. I was really moved by a number of the songs. After the concert I thought a lot about how the arts in our schools are losing funding even though they are so very critical to the development of our children. Before you stop reading thinking this a rant about education funding – its not. This is about how music and art can touch your soul and connect with your humanity.

More and more in today’s world creativity is one of the most prized and values skills that employers are looking for or entrepreneurs need to have. Creativity isn’t developed by reading about and spitting back facts about history or doing math problems. It can be developed in some English classes but it is truly developed in the arts. Music has the ability to touch our souls and bring out emotion and thoughts that don’t come to us when there is no music in our lives. The Pop music we hear on the radio or our kids download to their iPods isn’t what I am talking about.

One of the pieces that the men’s choir sang is a Civil War inspired song by Frank Wildhorn called Tell My Father sung below on Youtube by a young man who isn’t even from America. Its quite obvious from the notes on his video that this song touched him and made him think about the impact of War. Listen to this song and unless you have a heart of stone, I guarantee you will be moved by the words of a young Civil War soldier who is dying.

Another song that the select girls choir sang was Come in From the Firefly Darkness by Amy F. Bernon. This isn’t the sort of music that I usually listen to and its not played on the radio. I found this song very moving as well. Here is a another choir’s recording of that same song.

In closing all four choirs sang the song Until We Sing Again by Greg Gilpin. This was another great song full of emotion. I found a video of another high school choir singing this song that they dedicated to one of their “fallen” classmates. The comments below the video were about how the song had made them cry, touched them. Greg is a Choral composer and here is a link to his website’s listening center.

Below are the lyrics to his song Why We Sing

A sound of hope, a sound of peace,
a sound that celebrates and speaks what we believe.
A sound of love, a sound so strong.
It’s amazing what is given when we share a song.

This is why we sing, why we lift our voice,
why we stand as one in harmony.
This is why we sing, why we lift our voice.
Take my hand and sing with me.

Soothe a soul, mend a heart,
bring together lives that have been torn apart.
Share the joy, find a friend.
It’s a never-ending gift that circles back again.

This is why we sing, why we lift our voice,
why we stand as one in harmony.
This is why we sing, why we lift our voice.
Take my hand and sing with me.

Music builds a bridge, it can tear down a wall.
Music is a language that can speak to one and all!

This is why we sing, why we lift our voice,
why we stand as one in harmony.
This is why we sing, why we lift our voice.
Take my hand and sing with me.

This is why we sing!
We sing! We sing!

This past summer I climbed Mt.Kilimanjaro with two talented musicians – a singer and a trumpet player. To raise funds for her climb, Gina Anderson, a trumpet player and public education music teacher had a song written for our climb titled More than a Mountain. During our climb on the 4th day, our singer Suz, climbed up on this rock and started belting out the song. I had heard the song before I left for the climb but hearing her sing it on the mountain gave new and richer meaning to the words. The power of this impromptu performance brought tears to many of our eyes. Music has such amazing power.

Keeping this kind of music ever present has the power of great influence. Influence over our mood, our character and our creativity. We need to remind ourselves and our children to let our hearts and voices sing!

There are symphonies dying all across America for lack of funding and commitment from their local communities. We have just gained one of these symphonies in our little town of Parker. I genuinely hope that our community will support it and keep it viable. Otherwise, this music will move further and further from our lives, our hearts and souls. We need this kind of music.

A few examples of incredibly moving symphonies – this one of the final movement of Mahler’s 9th symphony. Mahler experienced great difficulty in his life and this last movement is really expressing “letting go”. This clip includes some discussion, interpretation from Bernstein the conductor. The music is so gentle/subtle yet moving in a very quiet sense.

Or here is an example of Tchaikovsky’s 6th symphony that is filled with powerful emotion, as though he is pouring out everything in to the music. It’s hard not to be moved by this music in some way or another.

Music is often what really brings our movies to life. Think about watching a suspense movie without the soundtrack. Its the music that creates a sense of dread, excitement or tension in a scary movie. How about this music from the Lord of the RingsSoundtrack titled A Knife in the Dark. 07 A Knife In The Dark

This musical soundtrack from the movie Chocolat that comes early in the movie sets up a sense of whimsy, mystery and adventure. That’s the underlying theme of the movie and the music sets the tone beautifully.

17 Ashes To The Wind

Let’s not ever turn the soundtrack off. Support the arts and music in your schools and in your communities. Listen to something a little different. How about cleaning up the kitchen tonight to the sounds of Tchaikovsky? Might make the process more interesting and move along a little faster. Talk about how the music impacts you while you are working. Add music to your life in unexpected ways.

If you are in the southern suburbs of Denver – Parker, Lonetree, Highlands Ranch, Castlerock, consider purchasing tickets to the the Parker Symphony Orchestra. If you are not close by google the musical options in your area for choral or orchestral performances. You may be amazed at how much you will enjoy the music. I am not a musician or even a music connoisseur but I do understand the power of music.

If you are not a supporter of the arts in public education, please think about it. Our schools need patrons, volunteers and parents who are passionate about music. Keep the music alive for all our sakes.


  1. sue thomson /

    Martha once again your words have really got my attention.
    Thank you for raising awareness to an Art we need to keep alive
    in our schools. Music has been a part of all of us since the beginning of time.
    We all must fight to keep it in our schools. Thank you for your reminding me
    that I also need to pay attention and do my part in my community to not
    let our music program die.
    hugs Suz

    • mcarlin /

      Thanks for the kind words Suz. I know your community will appreciate the support. And keep singing with your own beautiful voice. You keep the music alive with every song you sing.

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