Monday, September 24, 2012

Music as Medicine

As a pre-med advisor who's married to a musician (and as someone who sort of collects inspirational academic speeches as a hobby), I thought this Welcome Address to The Boston Conservatory really nailed a lot of why we do what we do. Read the whole thing by clicking on that link ... or if you really need to cut to the chase, this is the conclusion and heart of it:

"If we were a medical school, and you were here as a med student practicing appendectomies, you'd take your work very seriously because you would imagine that some night at two AM someone is going to waltz into your emergency room and you're going to have to save their life. Well, my friends, someday at 8 PM someone is going to walk into your concert hall and bring you a mind that is confused, a heart that is overwhelmed, a soul that is weary. Whether they go out whole again will depend partly on how well you do your craft. 

You're not here to become an entertainer, and you don't have to sell yourself. The truth is you don't have anything to sell; being a musician isn't about dispensing a product, like selling used cars. I'm not an entertainer; I'm a lot closer to a paramedic, a firefighter, a rescue worker. You're here to become a sort of therapist for the human soul, a spiritual version of a chiropractor, physical therapist, someone who works with our insides to see if they get things to line up, to see if we can come into harmony with ourselves and be healthy and happy and well.

Frankly, ladies and gentlemen, I expect you not only to master music; I expect you to save the planet. If there is a future wave of wellness on this planet, of harmony, of peace, of an end to war, of mutual understanding, of equality, of fairness, I don't expect it will come from a government, a military force or a corporation. I no longer even expect it to come from the religions of the world, which together seem to have brought us as much war as they have peace. If there is a future of peace for humankind, if there is to be an understanding of how these invisible, internal things should fit together, I expect it will come from the artists, because that's what we do. As in the concentration camp and the evening of 9/11, the artists are the ones who might be able to help us with our internal, invisible lives."

I have one problem with the last paragraph (just a little idolatry going on as Barfield might say, nothing too unusual): religion that doesn't do this is not religion, because this healing is precisely the point of God's saving action. See Micah 6:8 + James 1:27 + the whole book of Isaiah (which translated means "God saves" and is one of the more incredible word symphonies ever assembled). 

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