Play On!

The music program at LMU is small and relatively new, but growing larger and better with each passing year.  I’m certainly grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it!  Not only do I play in the concert band and pep band, my family has gotten involved as well.  My father (pianist extraordinaire who made sure I was surrounded with music my entire life) currently plays with the newly formed university jazz ensemble, while my cousin (an up-and-coming soprano vocalist who could put Christine Daaé to shame) sings in the community concert choir.  While I’ve never been one for jazz-style playing, I hope to get involved in the choir soon!

In addition to the myriad of ensembles, the music program offers many music-oriented classes as well.  In Music Appreciation, students (including myself!) can learn about the fundamentals of musical characteristics, the history of music, and how to critique and analyze music effectively.  Although we may go into the class having set opinions and ideas about music, here, we learn to explain why we hold those opinions in an informed and academic manner; perhaps even formulate new opinions about music we may have never been exposed to before!  Taking this course raised some interesting questions in my mind:  other than simple exposure, why do I enjoy music so much?  What purpose does it serve in my life?  Why do I enjoy the types of music I prefer?

One thing I enjoy about music is its religious sect and spiritual qualities.  Religious music has always played a large part in my life; my father has been the music director at many churches I’ve gone to throughout my eighteen years, and many of my musical performances are still at churches during special services.  I remember one particularly spiritual experience in particular:  during a Christmas musical at my parents’ current church in New Tazewell, I played the role of Mary.  Near the end of the play, I delivered a vocal solo, a lullaby to Jesus; the song was very slow and lyrical, and fit my vocal range perfectly, so I didn’t have to strain myself to perfect it.  All the while during the performance, I was actually holding a baby!  The whole experience was surreal and peaceful, and I almost forgot about the audience while I sang.  Even now, I still incorporate music into my spiritual practices such as dance and meditation.

A world without music for me would be like a world without the law for Javert. “I am reaching but I fall, and the stars are black and cold!”

Another reason I love music so much is its ability to tell stories and enhance them.  For example, Les Misérables by Victor Hugo is one of my favorite novels of all time, and is the greatest stories of love, morality, and justice ever told, even without music.  When Claude-Michel Schönberg took the story and created a concept album around it, it skyrocketed in popularity and went on to be the longest-running West End and Broadway musical to date.  To this day, Les Mis remains a huge part of my life, both as a story and a musical work.  My love for the musical eventually gave me another way to connect with two of my best friends here at LMU, Chelsea and Merry, who are also big fans!  We spent one of our occasional Friday movie nights watching the 2012 film adaptation of Les Mis, singing along with the music and (of course) bawling when the emotions got a little too intense.

This addition of music to stories isn’t limited to Broadway, however.  Scores and backing tracks of movies, TV shows, and even video games can be equally moving and enhancing; I’ve started watching some TV dramas and animated shows merely because I liked the music!  I find the scores of several animes -composed by one of my favorite modern composer, Yuki Kajiura- and of the Final Fantasy video game series especially compelling.  It’s amazing how a single song with a haunting melody like Kajiura’s “A Song of Storm and Fire” could get me addicted to a series so quickly!

(Speaking of “A Song of Storm and Fire”…)

Anna Blue used her music for self-expression of negative feelings – and Damien Dawn used his music to try and help her.

The main reason I’m so in love with music, however, is how it can express things that can’t be conveyed in words alone.  One of the most touching examples I can think of portraying this is the story of Anna Blue and Damien Dawn, a true story that I only recently heard.  A German high school student, who wrote music under the name Anna Blue, was dealing with depression and wrote a song expressing her sorrow and loneliness, called “So Allein” (“So Alone”).  A male singer, known only as Damien Dawn, heard her song and wrote a comforting reply, called “Dein Herz” (“Your Heart”), in which he sang of Anna as a light in the dark night and told her to look into her heart if she ever needed him.  Anna Blue eventually revealed her real name as being Anna White, but Damien Dawn remained enigmatic and never came forward.  I had never before seen music used in this way, and found the result to be heartrending.

It would be impossible for me to live in a world without music; somehow I don’t think I’ll ever have to.  For, as said by Plato, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.”

If any of you love music as much as I do, check out the the Facebook page for LMU’s music department!

What kinds of music do you like and why?  Has music ever helped you in any way?  How do you use music in your life?  I’d love to hear some of your stories, and would be thrilled if you would allow me to tell you more of mine – feel free to comment and follow my blog!

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