Posted by Kathleen Pooler/@kathypooler
The Power of Music to Unlock Memories
Memoirs are our version of the story. Someone else may have a different perception of the same event. A memoir is our truth from our perspective at a given point in time. We claim our life events as truths when we resurrect our memories. We begin to see the past through the lens of maturity and experience. The memory and therefore our truths are tangled and fuzzy at best.
Listening to music helps me to recapture the memories that keep popping up as I write.
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.
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 captive audience, Max, our Golden Retriever and to Wayne, my husband who usually just smiles and shakes his head.
There’s even research to confirm music’s impact on brain function. A Stanford study shows that music engages areas of the brain which are involved with paying attention, making predictions and updating events in our memory (Baker, Mitzi. “Music moves brain to pay attention, Stanford study finds.” Stanford Medicine. Accessed February 24, 2015.)
Music helps me to connect…
As I work on revising my second memoir, Daring to Hope: A Mother’s Journey to Healing From Cancer and Her Son’s Addiction (new working title), I instinctively ask Alexa (love my new Echo Dot!) to play me the music from the time I am writing about.
What Makes Music So Powerful?
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 profession’s role in healing according to Wikipedia.
“A letter written by the artist to William Walters dated July 20, 1860 illuminates the subject of this painting. It shows a brother and sister resting before an old tomb. The brother is attempting to comfort his sibling by playing the violin, and she has fallen into a deep sleep, “oblivious of all grief, mental and physical.”” (Wikipedia, The Power of Music)
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 their 25th anniversary concert in 1986 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.
Music unlocks memories…
As I finish the first revision of my second memoir, listening to music helps me connect with my own creative rhythms so that which flows from within will spill over onto the pages helping me to connect, heal, transform and define the times and my story through my writing.
A Memoir Moment:
John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High” takes me right back to Ferdando’s Pub, 1991:
Excerpt from my second memoir, Daring to Hope: A Mother’s Journey to Healing From Cancer and Her Son’s Addiction (working title).
One night after one of Brian’s basketball games when he was fifteen-years-old before he was kicked off the team, Ed took Brian and me out to dinner at Fernando’s, a local pub. Brian stepped away to visit with some friends as soon as we sat in our booth.
Against the background of a boisterous bar crowd and John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High “ on the jukebox, I looked across table at Ed as furls of smoke from the next booth swirled around his large frame. I started wringing my hands underneath the table and leaned forward,
“I want you to know Ed that I have forgiven you,” I said, swallowing hard. “I want to set things straight so we can be there for our kids.”
My growing anger over Ed’s lack of active participation in our children’s lives was beginning to spill over into rage. Or was it an escalating fear that time was running out on his chance to step in and make a positive difference in my children’s lives?
“Of course,” Ed said, opening his eyes wide. He flashed a hint of a smile and nodded, “Thank you.”
I exhaled deeply and and nodded back to him.
He didn’t ask any questions nor did I offer any specifics but somehow just addressing the fact that I was ready to let go of the burden of being angry with him consoled me. I had carried that resentment with me since our divorce in 1977 and was ready to lift the burden off myself. It also felt like a moment of desperation, an urgency to do everything possible to help our children.
I exhaled again and slumped down a little in my seat, relieved but uncertain how offering my forgiveness would make things better. We didn’t talk further about specific plans on co-parenting, but I felt it was a start. Ed was not much of a talker. He only opened up to me after he’d been drinking when we were married. I felt it was an accomplishment to address the issue of his role in parenting. I also hoped that he would respond to the fact that we needed him. Only time would tell.
How about you? Do you have ways to tap into your own creative energies? How do you get in rhythm? Does music help you to write?
I’d love to hear from you. Please leave your comments below~
“The Authentic Writer: A WOW Blog Tour with Memoirist BLynn Goodwin.
Lynn is the author of a memoir,Never Too Late: From Wannabee to Wife at 62
“When and How to Use Journals and Letters in Your Memoir by Amber Lea Starfire”