Prelude: The Healing Power of Music

June 27, 2023
I pink rose lying on black and white sheet music

I have a secret…. Shh!!!… I like playing funerals.

Well, let me qualify that statement. It’s not that I find them enjoyable, but I have always felt a special place of privilege there, and I experience an element of satisfaction in helping a family prepare for a funeral of a loved one.

It’s a difficult time in the life of family and friends, the loss of someone they love, someone they will miss so much in their daily lives. It’s a great honour to hear their stories, work through their thoughts about the service and the music, and then try to put all the elements into place in a short period of time.

What can music do in that time? As St. Augustine is purported to have said, “Those who sing pray twice.” Songs have both the theological, philosophical words and the emotional elements of the music. Singing can help release those emotions, and even if you aren’t able to sing through the tears, the music can bring comfort in the same way that a kind word or an affirmation of faith or a warm, long hug can bring comfort.

A funeral or memorial service may help us work through trauma. A sudden death, or the death of someone far too young, can be a very traumatic event. To think that we can help someone through a small portion of that time is a real gift.

As musicians, we have much power to help with the healing process, if we take our jobs seriously and work diligently to prepare what is required and execute it to the best of our ability.

Tammy-Jo Mortensen

Music Editor