I am thankful for music because it puts peace and humility on display. The word peacemaking implies that peace can be created. Peace does not come simply from the absence of conflict, but through the addition of something in the midst of conflict. Composers and musicians can use music to create peace by bringing beauty into an environment of violence. It is in this way that music acts as a mediator. And I would argue that broken musicians coming together in community to bring these works of art to life enhances this experience of peace and beauty. The music itself is a light shining, but this light shines more brightly through broken people working together in humility.
We often express how music-making enhances collaboration and community. I want to think a little more on how this happens. A composer has a great privilege to bring order out of chaos, by ordering the given materials (tones) in a way that can display re-birth and beauty. Musicians playing this work of art must strive together with a unity of spirit in order for the piece to come alive. The music itself is lifeless until musicians breathe life into it through their instruments or voices. There is something very human about melody and rhythm. When musicians play contrapuntal lines together there is unity and also diversity. They work together to form something greater than themselves, yet remain as individuals. They all must follow the “laws” of the piece and listen to and honor each other as they perform. Who has the primary line? Who is secondary? This requires great humility for some musicians. It also requires boldness for others. If you have a shy personality, yet have a primary part, you must develop courage to “speak up” for the good of the entire ensemble. Not all parts are of equal importance, yet they are all important. Just as all parts of the body are necessary even if all parts do not receive as much glory. We need our big toe just as much as our eyes, yet it sure doesn’t get as much attention.
There is so much talk these days on the importance of everyone becoming a leader. What a terrible idea! That would create chaos. Music does teach leadership, but it also teaches humility to follow well. We all must dance together and honor each other in order for beauty to arise. This is why music-making is such a great metaphor for living a life of peace.
Do humans desire peace and beauty? Well, we can witness these precious aspects of life in the rehearsal and performance halls. Though violence may surround the walls, inside peace is brought before our eyes and ears.