Monday, May 11, 2009

Believe in Music

So have you started writing for the "Favorite Things" contest? I certainly hope so! It doesn't have to by a lengthy story. I just can't wait to here what you love most about sharing music with your children. To tweak your interest, I decided to share an essay I wrote a few years ago about why I believe in music.

I am privileged to work with many children, including some who have been abused and now live in the custody of the state. I am only one music teacher, and, at times, I have questioned my ability to work with these children. I want to create something meaningful and lasting in their lives, but they have been stripped down to bare survival instincts. How do you reach past such a barricade and remind them that it is ok to just be a child, to laugh, to trust, to believe that life is full of wonderful possibilities?

These were some of the questions that haunted me on a return trip home from the foster facility recently. I had met a new child in class. She and her sister were the same age as my own two daughters. She sat sadly in a corner and wouldn’t even look at me. I tried every technique I knew to make a connection with her, but I couldn’t see that I even made a dent. As I was leaving, I overheard one of the other children remark, “She says she misses her mom! Doesn’t she think I miss mine too?” I cried for them all the way home. Did I believe in music anymore? What was I accomplishing there, anyway?
I did a lot of soul searching that week and here’s what I found. I do believe profoundly in the power of music. It is a universal language that invokes emotions and passions understood without words. It unites all of us in joys and sorrows. It brings us comfort when we are all alone and washes away our sadness. It stirs up hopes hidden deep within us, even hopes and dreams that we may have forgotten. Through music, we can express our innermost feelings, and the resultant melody moves those around us to share in those feelings. Sometimes a surprisingly beautiful harmony can be created in the process of dissonance, even the dissonance of an abused child.

I have come to realize that I can't change the world. However, through the power of music, I can change it one child at a time. Oh and by the way, that little girl was the first one through the door the next week, with a great big smile and an even bigger hug for me. I believe in music! Do you?


Sally-Ann said...

I enjoyed your post. Music can be so healing. Many years ago, before coming to the USA, I worked as a nurse. When I was a student nurse I was on the pediatric ward rotation. There was a little girl there who hadn't been beaten or anything like that, but she had been put in her crib and left there day after day. She wasn't given love or human contact except for the necessities in life. I was assigned that little girl for 8 hours every day. I was 18 and didn't have very much experience with 2 year olds, let alone one who couldn't even walk, feed herself or utter any words whatsoever. I would take her to physical therapy and occupational therapy for 2 of those 8 hours. The rest she was mine to deal with. What to do?? I held her, rocked her, hugged her....sang to her. We would dance up and down the ward. I sang every song I knew, I sang over and over and over. Her first words?? "Let's dance, put on your red shoes", the opening lyrics of a David Bowie song.
Aimmee, you do make a huge difference in the lives of all the children you teach.

Aimee Carter said...

Thank you for sharing your amazing story and making me cry on a Friday morning! It was wonderful.