Music: The Background for a Life Well-Lived

My friends, it is my intention to once again share a bit of wisdom with you. Perhaps it will help you to cope with the problems and challenges of life in this the 21st Century. Heaven knows they are coming at us with an ever-increasing speed and...


My friends, it is my intention to once again share a bit of wisdom with you. Perhaps it will help you to cope with the problems and challenges of life in this the 21st Century. Heaven knows they are coming at us with an ever-increasing speed and frequency. Like many of my visits with you, this one will be as much philosophical and practical. You cannot limit your education to the here and now. You need to deal with the esoteric as much as with the obvious.

Congreve (1697) left behind a bit of advice that I have used to help me stay sane on more than one occasion. He stated that, "…music has charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak." I know this man to be a very wise person, because he was also the man who stated that, "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." I know that one to be a truism. Oh yeah.

Many are the challenges that we face today. People want us to do more with less. Trust me when I say that I have tried doing more with less. Guess what? When you do that, all you can provide is less. Once this fact begins to dawn on each of us, the stresses begin to pile up.

Since people keep pressing us to provide our services cheaper and faster, the stress in our life grows, our individual worries and concerns expand and they start to grow. As this process continues, our ability to do our job begins to diminish. This can lead to a mental shutdown if we fail to take time to stop and smell the roses.

There are those who will tell you that there is no such thing as being able to stop and smell the roses. To this I say, "bull…." Remember the old maxim which stated that, "… all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy?" To that I would add, "… all work and no play makes Jack a stressed out basket case." I have seen this and sadly I have, at times, lived this.

However, as a community band musician I have a place to hide from the problems facing our nation, our fire service, and ourselves. I go to the back row of the band and begin my musical trip in the midst of my tuba playing buddies. I do not have to be the expert there. I simply need to make the appropriate sound at the proper place in the score, as determined by the composer of the piece and the conductor of the band.

Yes my friends, there can be a great solace in only having to follow orders. Throughout my life I have made use of music to assist me in the living of my life. There are a number of different situations where a bit of music can help out. Sometimes music can serve as a means of bring peace to a stressful situation.

Generally the works of Mozart fit the bill when I need to take my mind out of gear and bank the fires of anger and frustration. The lilting melodies of a Mozart horn concerto can band the fiery passions within my heart. This calming influence is a welcome change to the day-to-day stress in my life, and calm is always good.

There are also times when I just want to take myself out of the chaos of the world around us. Life can make us sometimes feel as though we are no longer in control of our lives. This can create an out-of-control feeling within our psyches. There comes a yearning for an earlier time when things were not quite so hectic. A rational soul might say that such a time has never really existed. To this I say no. We create what exists within our minds and if such a place truly ever existed, it existed within the nooks and crannies of our noggins.

Many times I use music to seek refuge in another time and place. As a matter of fact, I make an annual pilgrimage to a place where such a dose of nostalgia is the ruling principle. I make reference to my membership in the Windjammers Unlimited, a group dedicated to preserving the music of the old-time circuses which existed from the 1870's through the mid 1950's.

This content continues onto the next page...