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MuSIC – Music Stimulates Improved Community

Community Building


By Elaine Guerrazzi | November 4, 2019

A few months ago, I wrote a 3-part series on Music Matters. Reading this series shows my belief that music is more than just notes on a page or sounds in the air.  

Music Matters: Master Class
Music Matters: Musicians & Athletes
Music Matters: Music for Me!! Music for You??

I want to expand on the idea that music (making music or listening to music) can be an avenue to crossing boundaries.

Ludden (2015) discusses the idea that music can be considered a universal language. Music certainly isn’t a universal language in the sense that you could use it to express any thought to any person on the planet. But music does have the power to evoke deep primal feelings at the core of the shared human experience. It not only crosses cultures, it also reaches deep into our evolutionary past. And it that sense, music truly is a universal language.

In support of Ludden, Steele (2016) adds:

Music does not suffer the frustrations of catering to the diverse group of people that we are likely to see in a modern community because music is non-verbal and does not differentiate or discriminate between age, culture or ability.  The benefits of community engagement with music are multifaceted and wide ranging. This is because music is a very powerful medium, evidenced by the fact that in some societies there have been attempts to suppress or control its use. Music reflects and creates social conditions and is powerful within a social group because it can facilitate or impede social change. For these reasons community music therapy has recently emerged as a context driven and ethical practiceand it has become necessary to develop theories that explain how we ‘can use music intentionally to enhance connectedness.

My contention is that music is community building. Music experience(s) crosses boundaries of lives, stories, language and is a blending of science and art.

Below I’ve highlighted snip-its from various publications and organizations to provide examples of music at work.


**surrounds our lives
**tells stories
**encourages creativity
**shares insights of others
**enhances the quality of life
**is a second language
**is transformative
**is a fusion of science and art

Links are shared in each example below. I hope you take the time to review the sections that connect most with you.

Musician Leo Samama discusses how music surrounds our lives in his book The Meaning of Music (2015)

For virtually all of our lives, we are surrounded by music. From lullabies to radio to the praises sung in houses of worship, we encounter music at home and in the street, during work and in our leisure time, and not infrequently at birth and death. But what is music, and what does it mean to humans? How do we process it, and how do we create it?

Samama discusses these and many other questions while shaping a vibrant picture of music’s importance in human lives both past and present. What is remarkable is that music is recognized almost universally as a type of language that we can use to wordlessly communicate. We can hardly shut ourselves off from music, and considering its primal role in our lives, it comes as no surprise that few would ever want to. Able to traverse borders and appeal to the most disparate of individuals, music is both a tool and a gift, and as Samama shows, a unifying thread running throughout the cultural history of mankind.

TEDxYouth (2014), are events designed for, and often organized by, young people. They bring ideas worth spreading to all ages.

Jack Lovelace, then a freshman at Flint High School, is passionate about music and storytelling and shares his insight on the idea that “storytelling through music is an indispensable part of life”.

Austin Classical Guitar Society Audience Engagement program encourages creativity through music and storytelling. Artist in Residence, Joseph Palmer travels to local schools and area venues to share a program he developed that engages children and young adults in that arts through integration of music and story telling.  “His emphasis on learning the listening process to influence the emotions, aids students in imagining a story based on the sounds they are hearing” (ACG, 2015).  Music and storytelling has been central to society for generations. 

NPR Milestones of the Millennium (1999) shared insights from others about the impact music has on the stories and lives of others over the years. Lieberman & Corigliano in their article Once Upon a Time: Storytelling.  Musical storytelling has been enjoyed by audiences for most of the millennium, and will surely endure for ages to come. The possibilities for musical storytelling will continue to develop as composers continue to discover new means of musical depiction.

In 2011 Florida Music Education Association (FMEA) hosted a professional development conference in Tampa.  Fung & Lehmberg presentation titled Senior Citizens’ Music Participation and Perception of the Quality of Life provided an overview of their literature review published in 2010.  The literature review focused on the physical, psychological, and social benefits of active music participation for healthy senior citizens. It shows a connection of these benefits to an overall quality of life of older adults. Evidence suggests that active music making has a positive effect on quality of life. Active music participation holds numerous benefits for senior citizens, including, but not limited to (a) an overall sense of physical and mental well-being, including the lessening of stress, pain and medication usage, (b) the slowing of age-related cognitive decline, (c) feelings of pleasure and enjoyment, (d) pride and a sense of accomplishment in learning new skills, (e) creation and maintenance of social connections, (f) a means of creative self-expression, and (g) the construction of identity at a time in life when sense of identity may be in flux. 

Music is a second language for students at Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) in Austin, Texas. They describe what it is like to learn guitar. TSBVI instructor Jeremy Coleman shares his teaching philosophy. Coleman developed his approach at TSVBI using Austin Classical Guitar’s, which he has adapted for Braille. Coleman also serves as Austin Classical Guitar’s Inclusion Expert assisting classroom guitar instructors throughout the United States with solutions for students with disabilities.

A short documentary, Music Transforming Lives, by filmmaker Jenna Creech focuses on Austin Classical Guitar’s Youth Orchestra, culminating with the ensemble’s debut at the Long Center for the Performing Arts in October, 2013.

The Musical Mind of Albert Einstein: Great Physicist, Amateur Violinist, and Devotee of Mozart explains the fusion of science communication and classical music. Music and physics as disciplines complement each other. The mixing of disciplines enhances learning.
(NOTE: Be sure to watch the video embedded in the article)

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2 thoughts on “MuSIC – Music Stimulates Improved Community

  1. I often sing to my young grandchildren. It’s usually beer drinking songs I learned while playing rugby but it does sooth them.
    I often wonder what the next music phase will be like….. rap has hung on a lot longer than I thought it would with no signs of going away.
    I realize this may not be the types of music you were referring to, but it is music and it does tell a story, usually.

    1. The melodic sound of your voice is probably very soothing. : ) All genres of music “fit”…that’s the beauty of music…it speaks to everyone; just in a different way and maybe in a different “tune”.

      Thanks for your comment AND keeping singing!!!

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