Music's Power

By Marjorie Foerster Eddington and Claudia Fountain

There's a reason the psalmists tell us: "Praise the LORD with melodies … make music for him" (33:2 NLT) and, "It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High" (92:1 NIV). Music can transcend the human experience and help us feel the touch of the divine.

Our guest, Claudia Fountain, shares how music touched her heart and how it can enrich our lives.


I'm so glad we have music in my district's elementary and middle schools. Students have the chance to explore music making at an early time. They have the opportunity to practice and perform with their peers, playing all styles of music. It gives students something special to do and a place to be -- performing, going to Disneyland for workshops or competitions, traveling to a foreign country to play with musicians in another part of the world. Music is a universal language. The practice and rehearsals pay off with well-crafted performances that bring a positive sense of worth and joy to the participants.

Music camp really made a difference in my life. That's where I fell in love with music -- at a summer music and arts camp in Idyllwild, California, in the tall pines. Up on the wall of the main lodge, there is a statement: "I, too, will something make, and the joy is in the making."

That's what I think about music. The joy, everything, comes from making the music -- to be part of it, to feel the camaraderie with other people. There's nothing like having a moment with an orchestra when everything clicks, and you feel as if you are part of one unified whole.

I had one such experience that was the real clincher for me when I was in high school, playing in a college summer orchestra program. We were playing a Mahler symphony at the second campus of ISOMATA. The pine trees surrounded us in beauty. The piece itself is so beautiful and sad that playing it is emotionally draining. When we finished playing and recording it, the whole orchestra stood up, packed up, and walked outside next to each other -- in total silence. My friend eventually said, "No one said a word." I replied, "I know."

It was just amazing. We had no words anymore. There is a statement that "music is what happens when we're no longer able to find words." We were all so moved by playing beautiful music that no one had anything to say. I think that's what made up my mind -- that 60-70 people could walk out of the room so connected to the emotions created by the music that there were no words, nothing to say. Only the profound beauty of what we had just played and experienced was in our consciousness.

You can't have this type of experience if you're thinking about showing off your skills. It's all about playing as one, with one conductor, one Mind guiding each player in unison. And when this happens, it's no longer about the music, either. It's almost a divine experience, like a healing. The inspiration and transformation that comes with a healing of any disorder in our life helps us feel our likeness to the divine and raises us above our perceived limitations. The sum is more than the total of the parts. It becomes a transcendent kind of thing where we let go of human perceptions and experience the fullness of God's vision in our own lives.

There's a Bible passage that applies to this type of transcendent experience: "For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known" (I Cor 13:12 NIV). I like that -- knowing that we are like God … and that music can help us experience that singular moment of complete unity.

Claudia Fountain, San Jose, CA