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The Power of Music

by Tamara Leatham Bailey

Ever listened to a song that filled your eyes with tears? Or have you ever found yourself moving your feet to a beat, without even thinking about it? Ever belted a song into an imaginary microphone while an invisible audience raucously cheers you on? Our lives are full of music—every note and lyric touch us in some way. You want to be aware of what you come in contact with.

“Through music, man’s ability to express himself extends beyond the limits of the spoken language in both subtlety and power. Music can be used to both exalt and inspire or to carry messages of degradation and destruction” (Priesthood Bulletin, Aug. 1973, p. 3).

“For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads” (D&C 25:12).

By making smart choices, you can harness the power of music to make a positive influence in your life. For example:

  • Music can soothe your feelings when you’re angry or irritated. You can listen to your favorite peaceful pieces, or play away your emotions on your own instrument.

  • Music can invite the Spirit before scripture study. Singing, playing, or listening to a hymn prepares you for spiritual learning. Many missionaries sing a hymn before their daily scripture study.

  • Music can inspire imagination. Many artists listen to music while creating their art and feel it improves their work.

  • Music can keep you motivated while doing chores. As a boy, President Spencer W. Kimball sang hymns while milking the cows.

  • Music can help you exercise. Upbeat music can keep you moving and make jogging, biking, aerobics, or whatever more interesting.

  • Music can erase unwanted thoughts from your mind. Choose a favorite hymn or Primary song; then hum it when negative thoughts or bad language enter your mind. The bad and good can’t stay in there together.

  • Music can help you study. The right kinds of classical music, played softly, can actually help many people retain information.

  • Music can be a conversation starter. If you’re in a room full of people and you can’t think of anything to say, talk about the music playing in the background.

What Music?

It isn’t always easy knowing which music to listen to. It’s important to “apply the principles of the gospel and seek the guidance of the Spirit in selecting the music with which we surround ourselves” (Priesthood Bulletin, Aug. 1973, p. 3).

  • Have I felt a change in spirit while listening to this music? The Spirit often prompts through feelings. Pay attention to how the music makes you feel.

  • How do I act or imagine myself acting when I listen to this music?

  • How is the music affecting those around me?

  • Do I see my surroundings as light and hopeful while listening to this music, or dark and depressing?

  • Are the lyrics words that I would comfortably speak to my family and friends?

  • Does the music cover display degrading material?

  • If this music is accompanied by a video, does the video portray degrading actions or ideas?

  • Does the group performing promote standards similar to my own?

  • Is the music helping me accomplish my current goals? Some music may help you while jogging, but may not be the best when studying or preparing for a church meeting.

  • Does the music cause me to think, act, or feel contrary to the teachings of Christ?

Two-day Mission

For the youth of the Allen Second Ward, located just north of Dallas in Texas, the most significant event of the year isn’t youth conference, camp, or high adventure activities. It’s a two-day mission experience in which the priests and Laurels are paired up with full-time missionaries.

The youth were challenged to set appointments with nonmember friends, and other members helped with referrals. After an MTC-type training experience in the chapel, the youth helped teach discussions, tracted, ate dinner with member families, and had a testimony meeting.

“It was awesome!” said Josh Hopewell. “We got a couple doors slammed in our faces, but that’s part of the job. It comes with the territory.”

Said recent convert Jason Mckenty, “I know this church is true. It’s just the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I learned so much in two days!”

Jeni Smith summed up most people’s feelings when she said, “I’m really glad I came. I think the missionaries do such a great job. You may be hot and sweaty, but when you get in that first house and leave them with a copy of the Book of Mormon it’s worth it. I’m really thankful to have been part of it. I’m so thankful for Jesus and what he has done for each of us. I love this church a lot.”

Now the younger kids in the ward can’t wait to be priests and Laurels, and the priests and Laurels can’t wait to serve missions of their own.

Possible Dreams

There are two major dreams that 15-year-old Ann Kelly of the Tamworth Ward in Staffordshire, England, is striving for. One is to go on a mission; the other is to play on a professional football (soccer) team.

To prepare for the first goal, the convert of a little over a year is attending all her Church meetings, including early-morning seminary. “Although it’s hard to get up and go, I know it’s worth it for my mission,” she says.

To prepare for the second goal, Anna runs and wins cross-country races for her school, and also for the Staffordshire County team. She also plays football for the Lichfield Diamonds.

“There aren’t many girls’ football teams around,” she says, “but I’d like to play professionally for the England Ladies’ team.”

“Bee-a-Recycler”

Beehives from the Vacaville Third Ward, Vacaville California Stake, decided to do something about the environment in their area, and started their own ward recycling program, calling it “BEE-A-RECYCLER.”

The Beehives sent a sign-up sheet around the ward for those who wanted to participate, and twice a month the girls went to those homes, picking up the plastic, newspapers, glass, and aluminum that were set out for them. They then placed thank-you notes on each door. Everyone who participated felt they were making a real contribution toward helping the environment.

A Pageant of Their Own

Youth of the Menan Third Ward, Menan Idaho Stake, really wanted to attend the Hill Cumorah or the Manti pageant for their youth conference, but when they found out that would be impossible, they decided to stage a pageant of their own.

“Have you ever wondered … ?” was the theme of the production that began with two girls sitting at a campfire, wondering what it would have been like before. Twelve scenes from the Book of Mormon and its restoration were reenacted, with the highlight being Christ’s visit to America. “Playing the role of Christ really made me realize the great example to everyone through his actions and his words,” said Swen Gunderson.

The pageant was held one night only, on the North Menan Butte, an extinct volcano covered with cliffs and sagebrush. More than 300 people drove out to the butte to see the 77 youth who were involved. “I really learned a lot about the Book of Mormon that I didn’t know before,” said Kristy Bird. She wasn’t the only one. Everyone agreed that by being involved in this unique project, they felt the book’s powerful spirit.

Karate Kid

Cerebral palsy has a devastating effect on most of its victims, but not on Steven Roach of Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Thanks to his involvement in martial arts classes, Steven can walk mostly without canes or crutches.

Ward members are now thrilled to see Steven walk unaided back to his seat in the congregation after blessing the sacrament. Steven takes his priesthood seriously. “It’s a very special part of my life,” he says. “I am beginning to understand the priesthood more and more each day as I read my scriptures and study the gospel.”

Steven is also serious about his karate. He’s been able to earn a yellow belt, and is working on his green. Both his sensei (teacher) and his mother have worked hard to help and support him. “I know I may never be able to fly through the air with kicks,” he says. “But I always try to do my best.”

Hard to Say Good-Bye

It was hard for the youth of the Jonesboro Arkansas Ward to leave the residents of the local Children’s Colony when their service project was over. It was the first time many of the LDS youth had contact with the mentally or physically impaired, and their evening of games touched them in ways they’d never felt before.

They played basketball, softball, croquet and other games with the residents of the children’s home, and decided that it was one of the best activities they’d ever had. Many outside community members were also impressed with the efforts of the LDS youth. Now that they have had a taste of this kind of service, you can bet they’ll be back for more.

Flying Away

It isn’t easy to give up an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy, but that’s exactly what Timothy P. Kuehne of the Lake Ridge Second Ward, Fredericksburg Virginia Stake, did. His reason? He was called to serve in the Germany Hamburg Mission. “This was a very difficult decision,” said Timothy. “I love the Academy. But I also have a great desire to serve the Lord.” He hopes to return to the Academy after his mission.

Laurel President Meets U.S. President

Because of her selection as a delegate to Girls’ Nation in Washington, D.C., Laurel president Amy Bice of the Rexburg Tenth Ward, Rexburg Idaho East Stake, was able to meet and chat with President Bill Clinton. Amy, who was named outstanding senator, said, “I never thought a girl from a small Idaho town could do something like this. It’s really been great.”

[photo] Photography by Jed Clark