Music is truly an undeserved gift that we, as a collective people, are capable of harnessing. Some are more talented than others in various aspects of the music world, but we all share it.
Sometimes I don’t think we share it enough.
Music today is really about a perception. To perceive one, or a group, as a value instead of recognizing the experience for what it is. Unless multiple dollar symbols are attached to a name we rarely give a second glance. Unless the performance is up to par in our minds we could care less, we boo them off stage, we turn down the radio, we turn of television shows that make millions on dreams of those who truly love music.
But if you saw a new mother, or father, singing to their newborn child would you take notice? Would you watch, and inhale, the genuine experience of an elderly husband holding the hand of his decaying wife while humming the song they first danced to? Would you smile tenderly on an older brother teaching his younger sister the lyrics to the school pageant that she will be missing due to a last minute procedure?
I guarantee you hospital visitors, volunteers and personnel do just that.
LA Opera this Holiday Season discovered this lack in musical allocation and sent out a clan of singers to various Los Angeles Hospitals to sing Holiday Carols. I was apart of this fantastic group of the most talented, warm hearted and genuine people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing and we gave the gift of music to those in the hospital… but in return we received so much more.
Most hospital stories share grief, pain, hurt, loneliness and sorrow and while we saw what could have been; instead, with music, we saw laughter, we saw joy, we saw happiness and we saw interest. Genuine interest. How many times can you hold a conversation with a person and know they are truly interested? We, as humans, have lost a personal connection through out technological age especially in conversation. But, sing to someone and you would both be lost, together, in a splotch of time that could never be repeated. Music brings forth a feeling that truly nothing else has the power to do. Whether you are a trained musician, or an avid listener, music is emotional. Singing at the hospitals was emotional.
Walking into a particular room of a War Veteran and seeing the laughter of an elderly gentlemen, with no teeth, but enough gumption to request carols brought widening smiles by the second. Seeing families hovering around the beds of their sick, or dying, loved ones while their mouths gently danced along with the music brought tears to our eyes. Seeing the eyes of children widen and hands come to mouths to stifle their laughs while singing a goofy rendition of jingle bells could only instill the giggles of any onlooker. Every nurse working the long and tiring battles they face daily wouldn’t take their eyes off of us begging for more to keep this state of tenderness alive in their minds just a bit longer before the battle would rage again.
Music did this. Sharing music.
Walking through the hallways of the hospitals and seeing faces of every race, shape and size reminded me that music is powerful enough to transcend any barrier we still fight today. Music creates a peace, an inner harmony, that can truly connect everyone in the room. The dynamic swells, the melodious tunes, the gut wrenching harmonies – this is what the holidays are all about. Sharing these immense feelings of joy, the joy of music, can only bring about a spirit that the holidays harness.
So even if you can’t carry a tune… sing. Sing to your neighbor, sing in the car, sing to your spouse, sing to your child, sing to your father, mother, cat, dog, grandfather or grandmother because I guarantee they will always remember the time you sang to them. The time you thought of them enough to share the glory that is music.
I will never forget this hospital caroling tour and only hope it will be a tradition that returns year after year after year.