Music Matters in Memoir Writing~A Reflection
Posted by Kathleen Pooler/@kathypooler
“Music is moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, and life to everything…Without music, life would be an error. “Plato, attributed
I have always been amazed at the ability of music to affect my mood, transport me to another time and place and help me connect to my own creative energy.
When I write about the past, I often tune into Pandora radio for whatever decade I may be writing about.
Okay, I’ll admit, I do often sing around the house, too. I usually wake up with a song on my mind and end up giving voice to it until it eventually dissipates as I go about my day. Here’s the deal- I can’t really sing but that doesn’t matter. I do enjoy belting out the tunes to my audience of Rosie and Max, our Golden Retrievers and to Wayne, my husband who usually just smiles and shakes his head.
Music helps me to connect…
Music is a universal language:
Music is therapeutic:
Think about the soothing background music played in the dentist’s or doctor’s office to calm you, or the use of music in hospice settings to ease pain and anxiety. Music therapy, also called” expressive therapy” is a part of any helping professions’ role in healing according to Wikipedia.
Music is transformative:
It often transports the singer or musician to an altered state. Have you ever seen American cellist and virtuoso, Yo-Yo Ma in concert and seen the ecstasy on his face when he plays the cello?
Music reflects and defines the times:
Social movements are galvanized in the music of the times. Here’s Peter, Paul and Mary at a concert in Japan in 1990 singing Where Have All the Flowers Gone? It speaks to the pain and loss of the young men of my generation, the 1960′s, in the Vietnam War, and fueled the anti-war movement:
It is clear to me that music has extraordinary benefits to enhance productivity in life and in writing.
When I was thirteen, my parents encouraged me to take piano lessons. Begrudgingly, I’d sit at the upright used piano, pounding the keys, wishing I was doing anything other than that. Eventually, they let me quit, realizing I had no interest. As time went by, I began regretting that decision. For years, I longed to be able to play and dreamed of getting back to it someday.
After a trip to Missouri in 2006, when my friend, Mary Sue, sat at her Baby Grand piano in her Victorian sitting room with an upright piano and an organ, and mesmerized me with her piano music, I made a decision.
I would play the piano again.
As soon as I returned home, I went shopping for a used piano and bought an upright Kimball the same day. Soon after, I signed up for piano lessons which I took regularly from a lovely teacher, Sarah,for six years.
Now, let me be clear. I do not aspire to be a concert pianist nor do I expect to be able to play by ear as Mary Sue does. But I can read music and I can play for myself so that I recognize the tune. If I’m on a roll, others who happen to be in the vicinity recognize it too.
I play the piano for the sheer enjoyment of letting my fingers dance across the keys in a way that transports me and gets me in rhythm with myself and my creative energies.
When my friend, Marilyn, was dying of ovarian cancer in Wisconsin in 2009, I’d sit at the piano and play, visualizing myself connecting with her spirit. I couldn’t be there with her in person but I could play music in her honor. It was my gift for her and to myself.
On my parent’s 65th wedding anniversary in 2008 when I couldn’t be with them, I played Let Me Call You Sweetheart over the phone.
I stopped playing about a year ago listing a litany of excuses…focus on writing, play with the grand kids, do the laundry. I figured I’d lost my music…
So I sat down the other day and began playing some familiar tunes-Beauty and the Beast, Ava Marie, When Irish Eyes Are Smiling and guess what?
I got my music back.
I need to practice but as I finish the first revision of my memoir, it’s the least I can do to connect with my own rhythms so that what flows onto the keyboard will spill over onto the pages helping me to connect, heal, transform and define the times and my story through my writing.
For me, music does matter in memoir writing.
How about you? Do you have ways to tap into your own creative energies? How do you get in rhythm?
I’d love to hear from you. Please leave your comments below~
This week: I’m also over at Cate Russell-Cole’s blog, CommuniCATE with a guest post; “Confessions of a Memoir Writer”
Next Week: Memoir Author Pam Richards will discuss “Dare We Write About Miracles in Memoir?” Pam will be giving away a copy of her memoir, Singing From Silence to a commenter who will be selected in a random drawing.