Songs are extremely powerful! CAT scans have shown that all the hemispheres of the brain ignite when songs are played and people truly listen. A song has three key ingredients: rhythm, music and lyrics (words). “Music” is Greek in origin (from “muse”) and once meant ALL of the arts. Although listening is primarily an auditory experience, a song’s rhythm is kinesthetic, and its lyrics make it visual. Today in our busy world, words fly everywhere through all media, and are often confused or meanings changed with spell-checks. Fleeting texts seem to lack emotion and can easily be misconstrued. Where people once had to think before picking up a pen and writing on paper, Twitter, emails and texts are often the only way we communicate. There are so many songs in so many genres that lyrically relate to so many different subjects, thousand of playlists are generated every day, and not that many people truly listen to a song’s lyric or pay attention to their meaning. To fully understand the power of song, let’s focus on three major ways they are actually used: 1) to unite; 2) to teach; and 3) to soothe.
Songs That Unite:
Songs that unite typically have a magical way of bringing people together. They can highlight differences, love, race, gender, culture and other societal norms. But impactful music that unites typically highlights how, in spite of our differences all humans are similar. We all experience the same stages of growth, emotion, love and pain. Our common life experiences can create a bond and relationship to a song and bring people together.
An awesome example of songs uniting people from all over the world is Eric Whitacre’s emotional TED talk and “Virtual Choir” project. He held auditions and curated a 2,052-person choir to create a beautiful collaboration for his newest work Sleep, using YouTube. A project like this illustrates the beauty of sound and the skill of editing to create a masterpiece. What a way to unite people!
Creating unity is a very important part of my work and of Hunk-Ta-Bunk-Ta Music. My songs are written with the intention of bringing children and families together, and with the hope of creating fun, safe and interesting ways to experience them. All The Way Around The World from “Hunk-Ta-Bunk-Ta: BOO-2” was developed with these goals in mind.
Songs That Teach:
Songs that are specifically composed for children, can be created with the intention of entertaining them through active physical engagement, and can also be infused with life-lessons. Songs can tell stories and present situations that focus on sharing, caring, listening, learning and growth. And they can incorporate early childhood skills like: learning numbers, the alphabet, animal sounds, colors etc.
Hunk-Ta-Bunk-Ta songs like “Read A Book!” emphasize the importance of reading. It’s lyrics focus on sequencing and tell three mini-stories, and it expands the imagination and promotes a sense of adventure. This video is by the talented Patricia Shih, another children’s songwriter I know.
Songs That Soothe:
Songs can activate people. (Pay some attention to what is being played in shopping malls or crowded restaurants. It’s usually “busy” music to get people to purchase more or eat quickly). And, it can also soothe the mind, body and spirit. Naturally, children’s day-to-day lives are filled with lots of activity and movement. They are constantly exploring, moving and growing. Slow, soothing and calming lyrics, melodies, rhythms and instrumentation can be used to bring energy levels down and reduce stress. My goal with the album I created with Bonnie Nichols, another children’s songwriter, Hunk-Ta-Bunk-Ta BED was just that: to create songs for growing sleepy and slowing the mind and body down. The way a piece is performed also contributes to how soothing a particular song can be.
The power of a song is everywhere!
Katherine Dines is an award-winning children’s songwriter, recording and teaching artist who performs throughout the world. Since 1992, her Hunk-Ta-Bunk-Ta® Music has garnered numerous national awards including a Grammy nomination, while her concerts continue to captivate children and family audiences of all sizes.