“I may be helping to bring harmony
between people through my music.” Nat King Cole
The world is crazy and times are tough. How do you cope when things turn difficult? Many people sing together. They join their worship community choir; serving their congregation as well as making themselves feel better by singing with others. Others find a community outlet to sing in and it’s doubly great if that community chorus has a service component.
I know several children’s choruses who state one of the missions of their group, in addition to children making music together, is to help the community become a better place. Children are encouraged to have lemonade stands during the summer months to raise money for local homeless shelters. Winter holiday concerts have coat drives. Choirs raise money for children’s hospitals or go and sing for them. These children are taught to look beyond themselves and their community by fundraisers and service projects of all kinds, creating good young musicians as well as good young people in the process.
Church and Synagogue choirs lead worship by their music making. But often they go beyond their once or twice-a-week singing together to reach out to the community at large. They sing for community gatherings or partner with others for 9-11 remembrance services. They sing for Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day and Fourth of July and community Thanksgivings. They sing for those in nursing homes during holidays and reach out to the home-bound. Church Choirs and Synagogue Choirs serve meals for the homeless, gather toiletries for women’s shelters and raise money for projects in their own worship community. To sing in a Church Choir or Synagogue Choir is much more than “just” leading worship.
There are times when the text and music and messages we sing go further than we intend them to. We reach those in pain, physical as well as spiritual, by speaking to that pain and soothing gently. We calm those in turmoil, comfort the mourning and clarify a concept to those confused by war or death or illness or conflict. Without realizing that by simply singing, we often calm and comfort and clarify ourselves as well.
Community members could learn a lot from each other by singing together. When we flippantly say groups of people in conflict have come together to sing “Kumbaya,” we actually are speaking of a very real phenomenon. Originally the song was associated with human and spiritual unity, closeness and compassion. The metaphor of a group singing “Kumbaya” together has become a cynical catch-phrase but we could take it back to its true meaning; a coming together, despite differences, to sing (or do) something to foster understanding. Perhaps a little less cynicism might go a long way to create a more understanding and compassionate world.
There are many ways for us to use our music for good, our music for healing and peace-making. What ways do YOU use music for good?
Our series wraps up next Thursday with a bit of advice from ChoralNet readers; The “Know-It-All” in Your Life.