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Christine: The Power of Music

Many years ago, I was a dancer. I trained long and hard for the art; I adored it, lived it, ate, slept, breathed, and was consumed by it. I never realized until I was much older and had left that life behind just how much it mattered on an almost biological level. While I have always been (and continue to be) an emotional person, it was in the power of music and in movement that I could center myself. I could find equilibrium and strength.

Science tells us that we are neurologically affected by external stimuli. Music, in particular, can influence our state of being in such a way as to alter mood and affect. Anyone who loves music certainly knows this; anyone who listens to any music is generally aware of how they feel listening to music they hate, versus music they love. Keen music-lovers can even do what some therapists have been doing and knowing for some time — that you can strongly influence a particular state of being using music — make yourself happier or more upbeat-feeling with music you love that has a good rhythm, or put yourself in an active alert state ( to get ready for a competition, or particular task that requires a high level of focus) using certain types of sound.

I love to listen to music when I am doing something meditative or particularly active. Of course, when I work out (ha! rarely!), music makes it go much better, pushes me harder, makes me really reach for my objective in a way I’m not able to without it. I love that place; it’s almost like a high. When I am doing something like working over the glass torch — which can require intense focus — the mood I am in prior to sitting down determines what kind of music I listen to.

To concentrate, to really focus, I use my favorite classical composers, or world music, or mellow stuff like Van Morrison or Indigo Girls or Kenny Loggins. If I want to feel like a total bad-ass, then Evanescence and Green Day and Fall Out Boy come on the player. I have to admit to wanting to feel like a bad-ass more often lately, and surprisingly, I can really, really focus when liquifying my brains with some really loud, hard, driving music.

Sometimes, when the music is loud, and directly in my head, I want to reach out and pull the sound around me like a cloak, and become it. I imagine it like black silk velvet. I want to sink into it, swim in it — like it’s a pool — and be drowned in the sound and the words and the energy of it all. It’s like a hunger, like physiological need….I remember how it felt to literally be moved by music, to be able to interpret and understand every note, and to wring the feeling out of it. I don’t think I can even adequately describe the perfect feeling of power and grace and strength that can come from this experience. It’s like having the ability to control *everything* in your world just for a brief period of time. There really aren’t words for it, not at all.

Have you ever felt that? I’m not talking about being at a concert or something, and feeling the bass in your chest, or having to shout at your companions to make any kind of conversation. I am talking about becoming the music and hearing it in your soul, and wanting to, having to MOVE or SING or something, just do SOMETHING with that energy.

(Yeah, don’t stand outside my house when I am working at the torch — I can’t sing to save my everlovin’ soul, but I sure know how to belt out a song.)

I miss being able to feel in control of the universe in a way I can’t really define. That kind of power is inherent in music for me, and in the dance I no longer have the ability to perform. I realized the other day that a short time spent with good music really is a tonic for the soul and I was able to completely change my mood for the entire day with one musically driven glassworking session. Even now, as I write this I am listening to music (Parachute, “Something to Believe In” at the moment) and I am feeling pretty darn fine.

Try it. I dare ya. Lose yourself in your favorite music the next time you feel crummy or have something not-fun to do, and see what happens.

(OK, now it’s Cake, “The Distance.”)

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