A soul to the universe

By: Kendra Bragg Harding, ArtistCorps Member

Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything. 

Plato 

I’m sure we’ve all seen this quote a thousand times, but I’m not sure we always let it sink in. We get caught up in practicing, learning, instruction— the nuts and bolts of music-making— that we forget how much it means to us deep down.

Today, I got the chance to make music with some amazing kids during our national day of service, and it brought back to my heart the reason why I do this. It reminded me of what a wonderful privilege it is to make music my life and livelihood.

There was one student in particular who completely opened up during our music time. At first, he wouldn’t speak to me beyond one-word answers. I totally got it. It’s tough to talk to new people. You don’t trust them. You don’t know what they want from you. Heck, you may just want to be left alone to think and observe.

Then we started music time. His curiosity was piqued and I’m pretty sure he tried every instrument we had available. He became talkative, started making jokes with us and the other kids. He was engaged. And I got to be one of the people offering that opportunity to him. The engagement built trust and curiosity. The music-making let him express his feelings, learn something new, and have fun at the same time.

As we started packing up at the end, he took the time to help us. The kid who started out unwilling to speak offered to give back to us. And music did that. None of that would have happened without the power of the arts.

ArtistCorps, to me, is a channel through which I have opportunities I’d never have otherwise: opportunities to use my skills as a musician to bring hope and healing. That’s why I became a musician in the first place. Because, in my heart, I truly believe what Plato said, and days like today remind me of that.

January 18, 2016