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The Universal Language: Can Music Help Promote Peace?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

There’s a buzz in the air, a familiar electricity occupies the space where hundreds of people stand. Everyone can feel it- the excitement, the anticipation, the constant tug at their cheeks as a smile involuntarily spreads across their face, the incredible thought that everyone is there for the same reason.

Suddenly, lights flash and a deep vibration fills the air, penetrating every eardrum within distance. The chatter ceases, replaced by screams of enthusiasm. Now, all eyes are facing the stage, watching, waiting.

All at once, drums, guitar, and vocals arise out of thin air. Immediately a crowd of individuals becomes one swaying, pulsing mass. It is clear now that the buzz in the atmosphere can only be one thing: a love for music.

For anyone who has been to a concert or heard live music, they can agree there’s an ambiance like no other. Groups of separate people turn into a community, connected by chords and notes. They all have one thing in common, they are there to listen.

Most of us have grown up listening to music, whether it was lullabies as a baby, Disney Channel original movies, the radio in our mom’s car, toys that repeatedly play three songs, or a Barbie CD player. Music is used to mark milestone moments in our lives such as graduating from high school, getting married to the love of your life, or saying goodbye to a loved one. Certain songs remind us of the good and bad things we’ve experienced, immersing us in the emotions of that time.

Music has the ability to make us laugh, cry, smile, scream, and reminisce, but most importantly, it has the ability to create togetherness. It is a forum used to connect people around the world no matter their culture, religion, gender, generation, sexual orientation, race, or class. There are no classifications on what you need to look like, be interested in, or have experienced in order to fully enjoy a song, genre, or artist.

In 2015, researchers discovered a part of our brains dedicated to processing music, supporting the theory that music is an important function in our lives. Further research has shown that endorphins and dopamine are released when music is played, especially when people sing together.

If music is anything, it is connective. Not only does music physically bring people together, but it tears down linguistic barriers, promoting unification. It empowers and motivates people to work together to achieve a common goal.

One researcher, Benjamin Bergey, saw this displayed when he took a trip to Israel, a country plagued by conflict. During his visit, Bergey saw Arab and Jewish youth practicing together in an orchestral choir and noticed something incredible: these children struggled with the same notes and sang together beautifully, despite their different backgrounds. Bergey saw unity and peace communicated through music.

Another example of music being used to build community comes from universities, which often throw free concerts for their students. One such concert happened at Texas Christian University on April first, when Surfaces came to play for the student body.

“Music is one major way I express myself,” said a TCU student, “There is no feeling like jamming out with your best friends in the car to a song you all love. Concerts are like a massive version of that, and it makes me feel like I’m having fun with hundreds of my best friends.” 

Dr. William Soto Santiago, a member of Global Embassy of Activists for Peace, proposes the program The Power of Music for the Peace and Happiness of the Human Being. Dr. Santiago believes that music can be a way to install values, ethics, and morals into people from a young age by choosing music that upholds important messages.

Music is also capable of giving insight into other cultures. Humans sing about what they know, and this is true for the music that comes from the most remote places. Just listening can teach so much about the struggles, joys, feelings, and experiences of a person or a community.

In the 1940s, jazz and blues were on the rise, with their lyrics reflecting the thoughts of African-Americans across the United States. Artists brought up social issues in their music as a way of calling attention to problems and bringing awareness, but they also used it as an escape from their daily realities.

Soon, these genres spread beyond African communities, and youth of all colors found themselves dancing and singing together. This is not to say that music instantaneously destroyed racism and social issues, but it brought together groups of people that once had little to no interaction and hardly anything in common.

So, is music the simple answer to world peace? Sadly, the truth is no, but music can promote peace. Music can help us understand others on a deeper level and point us in the direction of progress.

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