Community Through Harmony: How First Rate Thought Leader Leads Her Community Through Music

I started taking piano lessons in first grade — I won’t say which century. And I began singing with my extended family in 6-part harmony at a little country church in Nebraska. I was hooked on the experience of making music in community with others. From there I joined my school band playing French horn and was in every musical group I could be in, and I’m currently on the worship team at my church with my husband. We are human, and so relationships aren’t always harmonious, but making music collectively centers and restores the team and my marriage over and over again.

In Brene` Brown’s book “Braving the Wilderness”, she shares research about collective assembly done by Shira Gabriel, Jennifer Valenti, Kristin Naragon-Gainy, and Ariana Young. They have found that experiences where people make music together contribute to the “sense of meaning” we have. The shared experience increases social connection and decreases loneliness. The experiences provide opportunities to feel joy, social connection, and peace. Brene’ notes that “(music) is often at the heart of spiritual gatherings, celebrations, funerals, and protest movement.” Making music, collectively, creates a powerful form of joy. I call it harmony.

I decided to take my passion for music into my community because I believe in its power to bring people together. I joined the board of the Levitt Pavilion in Arlington Texas in 2012. Their mission to “build community through music” really resonated with me. They host fifty free outdoor concerts per year. In normal (pre-COVID) years, parents can bring their families to the Levitt Lawn and dance and sing to all kinds of music. I’ve seen older couples turn these occasions into regular date nights. I’ve seen people of all races, genders, and ages enjoy this diverse community of people around them who look and think differently than they do and listen to categorically different music. Two years ago, when there were shootings in downtown Dallas, I saw how music could really bring us together. We came out to see Marcia Ball perform and she soothed the hurt and pain of our city and united our diverse crowd with a sing-a-long of her song “Peace, Love and Barbecue”. In that moment, we were more alike than different. Harmony.

This is such an important time to build joy, social connection, and peace through music. As we shift to a new normal–being conscious of each other’s safety and health–we can still continue to bring harmony to the world.

(Note:  There are 12 Levitt Pavilions in the country and there may be one near you!)

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