If you saw me a twenty years ago, you probably wouldn’t recognize me. I was just out of my MBA program, where I learned all about the all important bottom line, and while I did have a focus on helping others, ultimately, it all came down to the money.
Then Tanzania happened.
I became a volunteer business consultant in Tanzania, and all the values I had grown up with, all of my well-honed perspectives on progress, all my firmly grounded beliefs on what economic growth means, and even my beliefs around happiness were completely shaken up. And I realized that while my head could certainly think in terms of the bottom line, my heart had been almost completely squeezed dry as I had pushed it to the side again and again.
Music was already coming to save me, and I didn’t even realize it yet.
I knew something had to change, but I wasn’t sure what yet. But as I started working with children after my role in Tanzania, I was reminded of my own childhood dreams to become a musician. It wasn’t a simple, one and done transition — it took time for me to allow myself to follow that dream that, like my heart, had been put on the back shelf for too long. But once I did, everything changed.
Now I sometimes literally count the minutes until I can go to work because I’m just that excited about it.
Music not only saved my career, it saved my sanity and I genuinely believe that it saved my life. I don’t know where I would have ended up if I had kept working 80 hour weeks maximizing profit.
And I certainly can’t imagine getting through this year without music to keep me going.
The truth is, this year has held some fairly rocky waters for me so far. While things are calming back down, there have been a few times this year where I wasn’t sure which way was up. The only thing I knew for sure was that I had to keep singing. And so I did. I sang at SingPortland!, I sang at retreats in Hawaii and Europe, and I sang with one of my heroes, Bobby McFerrin.
And through it all, I was renewed. I came back to the land of the living, with the levity, tolerance, and patience I’d been so sorely lacking earlier in the year.
What’s more, I had that inner conviction that all is ultimately well — and I was able to help other people feel that sense of deep connection and wellness too.
So that’s why I’d never describe my relationship with music as a job, a passion, or even a love. It’s my religion, in the truest sense of the word.
Did you know that religion stems from the word “religare”, which means to reconnect?
That’s what music does for us, both on a personal and on a universal level. Singing reconnects us with ourselves — to paraphrase the wonderful Rudolf Steiner, “When we hear music, we experience a sense of wellbeing, because the tones resonate with what we remember from our spiritual home.”
It also connects us to each other. By leading people in music, I practice acceptance, and actually enjoy embracing people where they are both in rehearsal and in the world at large. In singing together in groups, we literally align our hearts, and we participate in a joyful ceremony that every single culture in the world, in every single era of history shares. Depending on your cosmology, singing may even connect us to the music of the stars, the harmony of the spheres.
So no, music isn’t my job. It’s bigger than that — it’s my savior, my purpose, my religion. And you know what? It’s also an invitation.
I’d love for you to join us and feel that same sense of connection to yourself, the people around you, and the world. (Not to mention have loads of fun doing it.)