I think I heard this somewhere before....

Music Matters. It does. We all know this. It's powerful. It impacts the emotional state of people. I've already been vocal about the effective use of music in youth ministry. It's something I am passionate about after seeing it work so well in my children's public school classrooms (See HERE and HERE).

SO can you guess how happy I was when THIS came up on my Twitter feed recently? A really great article on how school buses are harnessing the power of music to help create a safe and calm school bus environment. Helping to detour rowdy behavior.

" Over the past few months, officials at the Horry County School District have installed elaborate audio systems in 10 of the district’s 373 school buses. The systems play calming music, messages from school principals and alerts updating students on the bus’ location.
According to the Sun News, the sounds heard on audio-equipped buses are “reminiscent of those heard in trams and buses at Walt Disney World."- The Huffington Post  |  By 

Can we harness the power of music in our ministry environments? 
You bet we can! If you know me at all,  you will quickly find out I am a Taylor Swift fan-girl. I love how she is FEARLESS in her writing about life. About the struggles, challenges, and heartaches every woman has or will probably experience at some point. Yes, she takes me right back to being 15 or 22. One thing I love about attending her concerts (yup...got PIT PASSES for the RED TOUR!) is the emotional response her music elicits (from the screaming girls, teens, and their mommies) and how the audience is instantaneously captured by the power of story from the opening song to the curtain call.

Unaware you've been standing for 2 hours, because time magically eclipses into an experience you never want to end.  Stories are powerful...even bad ones. The guys who get dragged to her concerts by their girlfriends or wives are somehow enchanted by the experience too.  The concert experience captures us with sight, sound, visual cues, and stories we can all relate to. Because music isn't just music. It's a story. It's sight. It's sound. It's a memory triggered in the back of our minds. It's a person we picture in our head. It's music reminding us of Disneyland or Christmas or a high school boyfriend.

Why do you think we play so much horrible theologically inaccurate Christmas music as soon as we can (like the day after Thanksgiving anyone?) It's not necessarily because we love the music, are married to the lyrics, or even believe in Santa Clause. We connect to the memories and emotions the music connects us to. To a childhood that has long past. To memories of grandma and grandpa. The smell of pine needles and sugar cookies. To the FEELING of being 10 again and again. Music impacts our moods, and when dealing with young, developing adolescents (who are sometimes crying one minute and laughing the next!), having some help with controlling the emotional state of middle schoolers can be helpful.

Did you watch the last Summer Olympics (or the last couple)? Did you see how many athletes "get their head in the game" with music? Ipod buds in ear. Getting their mojo on. The Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology (2007) has an interesting research paper written on the theory of young tennis players’ use of music to manipulate emotional state. It's kinda obvious....I bet you even knew it already. Music directly impacts emotional state. We want to create optimal environments for learning, connecting, and enjoying life together....so why not use music to help?

How do you use music in youth ministry? What's on YOUR playlist? 


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