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Jane Kirkpatrick | How Music Heals
Author Guest / September 8, 2021

The poet Maya Angelou once wrote that as a child “Music was my refuge. I climbed inside the space between the notes and curled my back to loneliness.” She was in tune with musician Natalie Curtis of The Healing of Natalie Curtis (Revell). Though not a child when she had a mental collapse before her New York Philharmonic debut in 1897, nevertheless she sought her healing in the discovery of the music of the Indigenous people of America’s Southwest. Her healing reflects what a century later psychologists at Baylor University discovered. They worked with children who had experienced trauma of various kinds: loss of home, death of a parent, abuse. What researchers found is that traditional counseling like I was trained to do as a Clinical Social Worker, was not as effective as movement (dance, woodworking), art (painting,  photography); story — reading and writing them;  and yes, music. These sensory experiences bypass the critical side and reach the amygdala oblongata, the part of the brain associated with emotion that does not shut down when the rest of a body might go into survival mode, which is where trauma sends us. I had my own experience with musical healing. When I…

Trish Milburn | The Power of Music
Uncategorized / April 27, 2009

It’s amazing how much emotional power can be packed into song lyrics. I admire anyone who is a good songwriter, creating a story out of a few short lines. I like to incorporate music into my stories to show a character’s feelings or to set a mood. Though I’m careful not to venture into copyright infringement by using actual song lyrics, I do reference them. For instance, I was recently working on a young adult story (Winter Longing, Razorbill, Summer 2010) in which my heroine has experienced a significant loss. As teens often do when they’re hurting, she listens to certain music over and over. For my heroine, Winter, it’s the songs of Breaking Benjamin, a band that I like and whose lyrics really speak to what she’s experiencing. Winter is enduring a loss, so when she hears Breaking Benjamin’s “Breathe,” the lyric “You left a hole where my heart should be” really packs an emotional punch. Later, it’s the band’s song “So Cold” that takes on new meaning when heard in the new context of her life. Though I don’t quote the lyrics, it’s the lyrics “You’re so cold, but you feel alive; Lay your hands on me one…