Music for Peace: Expanding Tolerance & Understanding

by Katherine 'KOOL KAT' Farnham 

Hello everybody! Here are some thoughts about music and life that I hope may help you and give you food for thought (chocolate cheesecake in particular!). 

We now live in a global community and the Internet has dramatically shifted the way people communicate with each other on a day to day basis. Every culture has beautiful and unique things to offer. Every culture also has a unique way of living and looking at the world. We now have so much opportunity to learn about different approaches to life and creativity. What is different? What is the same? Is there anything that we all share? When there is conflict, how do we find the common thread that runs through each and every one of us? 

Music is one of the true universal languages. People all over the world play and listen to music and many cultures use music as part of their religious and/or spiritual worship. Everybody loves music! 

When you struggle to master something in music, there is a process you go through. A certain amount of conflict or struggle is natural and to be expected. Too much struggle and something may be wrong. Not enough, and more effort may be necessary. Why do we even do this? Because it feels great to finally master something and hear the results. We have a vision of an ideal that we yearn to reach and live up to and although we probably don’t reach it every day, with time and practice mastery is within the realm of possibility. However, an important point to remember is this: talent and aptitude are a wonderful beginning. It’s the combination of talent, skill and integrity however that truly makes mastery possible. When we develop our skills, a way or technique for doing something, we tweak and hone them each day, merging our creativity with our problem-solving capacity. We can develop more strength and possibly embark on a path to achieving new things. 

What is the difference between just tolerating each other and really co-existing peacefully? How good is our listening (to our own hearts, thoughts, our inner voices)? Can we even hear the difference right now? We need advanced skills to prosper in this global world. I think most people are capable of growth. 

Doing music without any passion or feeling, even if the notes are all correct usually doesn’t make for an inspiring or effective performance. Living life safely and never taking any risks probably is not good either. When we find the balance between our love and passion and our thought-process and discipline, there is harmony and maybe even art: in music, in life. 

Regardless of what is going on in the world, each one of us can strive for individual mastery and growth in our own lives. Whether our focus is cleaning houses, cooking, raising a family, teaching, nursing, the arts or something else the principles of personal mastery are similar for each person. There will be mistakes but integrity means that we correct them, learn and move on. There may be difficult moments but we can make a commitment to thinking and feeling and working through it. Growth is not easy, but there are places of integration where we can realize that certain lessons have been mastered. Share your growth with others because ignorance and fear often cause great pain. Prejudice is often caused by being afraid of others who are simply different than we are. The more we can reduce this, the better quality of life human beings can have. 

Sometimes I have had a music student who professes to dislike or even hate a particular genre of music. Occasionally I will ask them to look up some things about it and seek to find something they are drawn to. Usually they will come back pleasantly surprised, even amazed with their findings. Even if they still do not adore it, they usually learn to respect and understand it! This process is transferable. It can be taught to others so that we can learn to understand our global citizens and human brothers and sisters better. God's universal language can teach us new, improved ways to interact in the global, universal world. 

Here’s to harmony: in music and in life! Now, where’s that cheesecake? 


(c) 2017 Katherine Farnham

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