Chances are, if you come to our house or ride in the car with me or my family, you are going to hear music. And along with that music will come singing and, sometimes, dancing.
At home, we mostly keep our individual music choices contained within our headphones, so as to not create a wild cacophony of songs and musical styles. Still, I cannot hear a song and not sing—a weakness of mine—so my kids still have to hear my choices. I even have a playlist I use while writing. It’s providing the score for this column right now.
In the car, however, it’s a different story. There is no escaping each other’s musical choices. Because of that, what type of music you hear will depend on who is the first to hook their phone up to the car’s audio system. That means it could range anywhere from current artists to Elvis to Broadway tunes or my personal favorite—songs from the ’80s.
A Musical Tradition
I like to think of my family’s deep connection with music as a long-standing tradition. Growing up, I was surrounded by music. My mom was an excellent singer, and every Sunday she lent her voice to our parish choir. Her father was a singer, and there are many family photos of the two of them singing together.
My husband, Mark’s, parents are also connoisseurs of a wide range of music. One time—while Mark and I were still only dating—my mom and Mark’s mom attended a Neil Diamond concert together. The already strong connection between them was bolstered by music.
One of my fondest memories of childhood, though, is of my dad singing my sisters and me to sleep with the Irish lullaby “Too‐Ra‐Loo‐Ra‐Loo‐Ra.” When I had my children, I also sang it to them as they drifted off to sleep. Over time other songs made it into the nighttime repertoire but, nonetheless, the music was always there connecting us.
Yes, music is a big part of our lives.
A God-Given Gift
The power of music was once again demonstrated when, recently, my nephew Russell performed his senior college recital. It was his last big performance before graduating. When the time came for him to play, he slowly walked onto the stage and stopped in front of a music stand. In his hands he held his viola, his constant companion for years.
After the welcoming applause died down, he silently bowed his head for just a moment, then raised his viola and began to play. It was a scene I had watched time and time again over his years of practice and performance. And each time I have been struck by the passion with which he plays. It was like watching a master at his craft.
At times during the performance, Russell would close his eyes, not looking down at the sheet music but instead playing from memory and instinct. He knew the notes in his soul. I saw the same passion when he played “Danny Boy” at my father’s/his grandfather’s funeral.
Music has that power. It has the power to lift us up, to connect us, and to touch our souls. Anything that can do that is definitely holy.