I believe in the power of music to make the world a better place.
When we sing together we breathe together. We can't help but move to the same rhythm. Research has shown this causes psychological and even physiological changes that lead us to be more cooperative, more tolerant of differences, and more creative when solving social problems. These changes create deep bonds between us.
For the last two and a half years I've been giving these research findings a test in real life. I am one of four volunteers who teach music at a refugee center for people from Asia, Africa and the Middle East. This is what I've observed: We don't have to know each others names or speak the same language. Once we make music together, we're family.
The connection between us is so apparent that even strangers can feel it. When we took our students on a field trip to the San Antonio Symphony, we stood on the front steps of the Tobin Center for a group photo before going in. There we were: 20 people representing four different continents, a rainbow in every respect. The first person I encountered as we entered the building had been watching us. “Oh,” she said. “Are you having a family reunion?” At first surprised, I replied with the only answer that seemed true. “Yes, we are,” I said.
The woman who sat next to me on the mezzanine didn't even ask. She just leaned over and said, “You have a beautiful family.” With great pleasure I replied, “Yes. We do.”