I thought the music I listened to didn’t affect me much. After all, most of the time I didn’t pay attention to the words.
When I was 12 years old, I had an excellent Young Women leader named Sister Smith. She noticed that my friends and I loved to talk about all the popular music groups. We all declared that one boy band was definitely the most awesome music group since our favorite girl band had broken up. When the boy band came along, they stole all our hearts, and they became all we could talk about.
Sister Smith became concerned about us and our obvious obsession with these popular bands and their music. One Sunday, she expressed her concern. I remember speaking for my friends and myself when I said, “There’s nothing wrong with pop music, even if some of the words aren’t very good. It doesn’t really affect us.”
Giving me a skeptical look, Sister Smith said, “If you’re so sure music doesn’t affect you, let’s try an experiment.” She gave us all two crossword puzzles. Then she told us to do the first puzzle while listening to classical music. For the second puzzle, we were told to listen to our favorite pop music while completing it. We all wondered what she was getting at, but we agreed to do what she said.
The next Sunday, Sister Smith began by giving us the hints from the first crossword puzzle and asking us to give her the answers. We all remembered every answer. However, when she gave us the hints from the crossword puzzle we had completed while listening to pop music, we couldn’t remember many of the answers. That day I learned that good music could help inspire me to remember things, while music with words and fast beats distracted me and got stuck in my head, causing me to forget the things I had learned.
I learned that the music I listen to really does affect me.
It isn’t always easy knowing what music to listen to. The thirteenth article of faith can help us make good choices: “If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”
Ask yourself some of these questions when choosing the music you listen to:
- 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 as dark and depressing?
- Could I comfortably speak the lyrics to my family and friends?
- Does the CD cover display immoral or degrading visual material?
- If this music is accompanied by a video, does the video portray immoral or degrading actions or ideas?
- Does the group or individual 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 for school or preparing for a Church meeting.)
- Do I think, act, or feel contrary to the teachings of Christ when I listen to this music?
Extremes in Music
“You degrade yourself when you identify with all of those things which seem now to surround such extremes in music: the shabbiness, the irreverence, the immorality, and the addictions. Such music as that is not worthy of you. You should have self-respect” (Boyd K. Packer, "Inspiring Music—Worthy Thoughts," Ensign, Jan. 1974, 28).