I once had to sit in my office, waiting for the members of my congregation’s personnel committee to invite me into what was sure to be a difficult discussion. A misunderstanding with the wrong person had quickly spiraled out of control, and I was finally going to have the opportunity to engage in a solution-focused conversation. I was excited and anxious and angry and terrified, and I couldn’t go into the room with all those emotions roiling just below the surface. So I made a playlist on my phone, which included “Freebird,” “I Will Survive,” the title song from the musical Rent, and other high-energy, tail-kicking songs. I sang them LOUDLY. I punched the air. The music gave me an emotional workout, after which the endorphins were pumping and my feelings were more defined.
As the mother of a preschooler, these days my playlist is mostly comprised of Daniel Tiger songs. But I have found Daniel’s short, simple ditties very helpful at times: “When you’re feeling frustrated, take a step back and ask for help.” “It’s ok to feel sad sometimes. Little by little, you’ll feel better again.” “When you feel so mad that you want to roar, take a step back and count to four.”
Music can be a powerful motivator, a calming agent, and an empathetic expression of our grief, not to mention a community facilitator and even a force for social change. What needs to be on your playlist when you’re headed into a dreaded meeting, when you’re having trouble focusing, when your heart is weighed down with sadness? How can music help you feel connected and prepared and alive?