The Power of Music
Creating, performing and sharing music is a way to share beauty and comfort with others.
Music has been a healing balm and a strong bond in a time when so many are experiencing fear, isolation, and boredom. That’s why music has and continues to be such an important part not only of education, but also daily life.
Activities that bring a sense of wonder and beauty into one's life bring hope, an experience that there is something greater to strive for. This is something music can do. Servant of God Dorothy Day—who founded the Catholic Worker and lived a very austere life with the poor—recognized this need for beauty: "...there are many kinds of hunger. There is a hunger for bread, and we must give people food. But there is also a hunger for beauty..."1
Even though in-person concerts aren’t possible right now, there are still many ways that we can share online or from a distance. Students can share within their family or connect with distant family members on Zoom or Google Meet and perform for them. Some Oakcrest students have given porch concerts. Faculty and students worked together to create a virtual concert broadcast that brought a sense of togetherness as everyone watched from their homes. Students can also create their own virtual recordings with each other, learning music at home, recording it, and in small groupings combining their recordings and creating video.
Students learn through ensembles that they are responsible for the final outcome and have a responsibility to their schoolmates to give their best. They are working toward creating something meaningful. Performances unite the audience with the performers. Students are taught that they are bringing the gift of joy and beauty to others—to think of a performance not as something that brings the performer accolades, but rather as a gift the performer gives to others. A bow is a thank-you for the presence of the audience that allows you to share something important, something you hope will make the world a better place through shared understanding of the human condition or added truth and beauty. When we bow to someone we encounter, we are honoring their presence.
There are plenty of ways you can bring more quality music into your life. Consider learning a musical instrument or developing your voice with an online teacher. Many orchestras around the world are streaming music to enjoy from the safety of your home. Some of this is for a fee so that the orchestras can sustain themselves while unable to give live concerts; they often will offer insights into the music and/or composer as a means to educate their audience. There are also music appreciation master classes offered by experts in the field. Subscribe to a music streaming service where you can search for great works of music. You can search for the "great classical works" to get started, but perhaps also search for individual composers and start listening. You don't have to be limited to classical music; enjoy exploring many genres. You can still enjoy your favorite new pop music while also exploring music that has endured for centuries. This can be a life-long pursuit.
Anne Miller is the Master Teacher of Music and Choral Director at Oakcrest School. She is an accomplished pianist, in addition to being an exceptional choral conductor and musical director. She holds both a B.A. in Music History & Piano and a M.M. in Piano Performance from SUNY Fredonia. Mrs. Miller also holds an Educational Certification and is in progress towards a M.Ed in Social Foundations from the University of Virginia. She has completed Choral Conducting Classes at the Eastman School of Music, Duquesne University, and Shenandoah University. Anne holds a level one Kodaly Certification from George Mason University, and participated as a focus group member for the U.S. Department of Education’s R.E.S.P.E.C.T initiative. She has been a member of the Oakcrest faculty since 2002.
1. Kate Hennessy, Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved by Beauty: An Intimate Portrait of My Grandmother (New York: Scribner, 2017).