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The Inclusive Voice

Earth at Night
The Inclusive Voice

Dear Friend
I’ve just had an amazing week singing for Peace with many wonderful singers of all ages and backgrounds - which once again affirmed to me what a powerful medium singing is for creating peace together as it both affirms our expression as very diverse individuals whilst bringing us together in an inclusive activity.  I’ve also very much enjoyed listening to the #WhyMusic? programmes on Radio 3 this weekend, which explored the immense power of music in settings ranging from therapy to torture.

Everyone has a voice, everyone is musical
It takes that one voice and everyone will sing - Barry Manilow
Whatever we tell ourselves about our musical or singing abilities, we are actually all inherently musical - our bodies whirr with rhythms, pulses and processes that have sound at their core, like our heartbeat, or create sound as a byproduct, such as the gurgle of our guts as they digest.  The very building blocks of our anatomy vibrate with sound frequencies, meaning that we are all made of sound. This is contrary to what many people were told at school, where they may have been told to mime or be quiet, whilst others were selected as being ‘musical.’  I witness time and time again, people’s utter delight at being reunited with their own inherent musicality - which was, of course, there all along.

Musical Biography
We really got the sense that people were selecting musical styles to like that match their own personality - Professor Adrian North, Music Psychologist
We all have a musical biography composed of all sorts of influences, environments and conditions - including the musical forms we were exposed to in our families, schools, workplaces, faiths or cultures.   This shapes our experience of music - from our assessment of our own musical abilities to our musical preferences.  Folks flock together with friends of a similar musical feather - there are Rock, Pop, Gospel, Church, Chamber, Classical and Community Choirs to name just a few.  In this way we use music to create a sense of identity and connection with others.

Musical Biology
I was born with music inside me. Music was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force already within me when I arrived on the scene. It was a necessity for me - like food or water. -  Ray Charles
We may prefer some forms of music, yet beyond our Musical Biography, our bodies respond to music powerfully - our heart rates increase in response to rapid music, whilst slower music may send us to sleep.  This biological response is inclusive of everyone - I have witnessed people without hearing and sight responding powerfully to the vibrations of musical instruments.

Music Meets Us Where We Are
You can find me where the music meets the oceans - Zac Brown Band
One of the principles I learned working with children and adults with special needs was to meet them in their own worlds - which involved affirming and mirroring their expression - from the twitch of a finger to a loud vocalisation.  Speaking on Music is Medicine, Music Therapist Simon Procter and Psychologist Adam Ockleford both affirmed that music-making begins with meeting the person where they are, before opening up new possibilities in relating, communication and expression.  Music is the meeting point between our individuality (In Here) and the vast oceans of the universal - (The Big Out There)

Music is a language beyond language
Music is too precise to express in Words - Mendelssohn
One of the magical things about music is that it involves many other brain functions other than conceptual and language skills.  Scans have shown that areas across the brain light up during music-making.  Adam Ockleford describes music as a safe space for those with autism who may feel threatened or unable to respond to language. Aaron William, speaking on Feeling Music, described how music mimics the more universal sounds and vocalisations of emotion - sad music tends to be slower, smoother and includes falling sounds - similar to moaning

Music caters for all emotions
Music makes me feel too small for my heart - Enora -response to Why Music?
Music in all its diverse forms, is able to meet every known emotion and mood.  Aaron Williams also described an Australian study which demonstrated that those who listened to extreme metal music found that it helped them to process anger and left them feeling inspired afterwards.  Listening to sad music has also been found to have beneficial effects on emotional wellbeing.  In music-making our feelings flow enabling us to feel connected to ourselves and others in inspiring, inclusive and uplifting ways.

Wishing you a magical October