Music Moves My Soul

I was born into a family that appreciated music. Everyone played something or sang, or both. On family trips, no matter who we were travelling with; the music was always cranked loud and everybody sang.Grandpa and Me Makin Music

As a small child, I loved singing with both my mother and father. My little brother grew into a fabulous bass voice when he matured. Together we enjoyed playing with harmonies.

Although my parents divorced when I was very small, music was a constant in both of their households. I remember watching the Osmond Show as a little girl and thinking Marie was country like my mom, and Donny was rock and roll, like my dad.

My Dad in the 1960sMy dad was stuck mainly in the 50s and 60s with his rock and roll. Elvis was a favorite with both of my parents. A fact I found curiously entertaining as a young girl witnessing their differences.  I couldn’t imagine them listening to music together, but I listened to the same songs in each of their homes.

My mom loved country music. Tammy Wynette taught me how to spell the troubles that my family was experiencing with so many others in the early 1970s.

My own musical tastes followed both of my parents as a child. I was often seen and heard dancing and singing around my parents’ homes to whatever they had on.

My first personal music collection began on 8-track tapes. I received a player and a gift certificate for 4 tapes at a local music store on my 10th Christmas. I picked out ABBA, Steve Miller Band, Jim Croce & The Carpenters.

As I grew into a teen, I soon left my school choir performances behind and began performing guest vocals with bands who were made up of friends, and a ID that said I was 20 years older than I was. I loved music. I loved to dance and sing.

My personal music collection expanded to include every type of rock, hard rock and heavy metal. I also enjoyed any and every alternative or female artist. A few country songs drifted into my collection, but the majority was on the very hard side.

When my children were young, I tried to encourage their musical My Oldest Son & Me October 2010interests. My oldest son took up a genre of music that I had actually attempted to keep out of our home when he was a child. He is currently pursuing a career in the Southern California Rap/Hip Hop music scene.

My second son took up the guitar, bass guitar and vocals. As an adult he has experimented with other instruments as well.

My youngest child, my daughter, took up the violin at age 8 and fell in love. A child born with perfect pitch; she has a beautiful voice that only falters as much as her confidence.

With all the music in my life, I was looking forward to dancing when I was invited to my first Mid-Singles LDS dance. It was even a theme: 50s.

Centralia MeetinghouseIt was late spring, I had recently been baptized. When I went through my music collection during my repentance and baptismal times; I was unforgiving. Any lyrics that encouraged feelings in me that were not Gospel-centered were deleted off of my hard drive.

I had replaced much of my music with young adult LDS downloads from LDS.org. A Sister teaching the Young Women gave me a CD. I also listened to Gospel country music. Even though many of the Gospel ideas within them were erroneous to my beliefs; praising God was much better than traveling down an audio Highway to Hell.

When I entered the dance at the Stake Center building, I was surprised at both the music playing and the atmosphere. It was completely contradictory to the Standards of Youth card I had come to carry in my wallet. The lights were all darkened to the point I couldn’t see people’s faces well and the music was more than a little on the “racy” side, and only a few 50s songs. The DJ was a young person who was not a member of the church. DSCN2853-001

As the lyrics of the music began to disturb me more and more; I escaped into the foyer to read The Book of Mormon that was placed there. Having come with a group, I couldn’t leave. But I wanted to.

When I inquired about the music, I was told that no dances have LDS music. No one dances to any type of Gospel music. All dances have popular music. I couldn’t have been more disappointed.

I FEEL the lyrics in music. I am a writer. I HEAR the words. I FEEL the emotion in the strains of the music. When a song speaks of sinful actions or emotions that are not in line with the Gospel of Jesus Christ; I have the privilege of feeling them.

1263847552085I used to enjoy those sensations. The evil, just a little bit…. But as an endowed member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I have NO DESIRE to feel that way again. EVER.

That does not mean that I do not enjoy dancing with my husband. Dancing is still one of my favorite activities. It is the music choice to dance to that is my issue.

My dear husband, a fantastic musician, is currently grappling with my Maggie & Keithmusic situation. I long to be able to procure a baritone saxophone for him. Music without words may be a workable option.

For now… we will dance to the Gospel music from my stereo at home.

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3 thoughts on “Music Moves My Soul”

  1. Hi! I’m just visiting from middleagedmormonman. I really sympathize with your struggle to find good appropriate music to dance to. I love music. I have a degree in music, yet I rarely turn on the radio because it is so much garbage. I’ve learned that just because someone else in the church thinks something is okay doesn’t mean it’s okay for me. The only one who can protect my sensitivity to the Spirit is ME! I may live in the world, but I don’t need the world living in me.

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  2. I am a reader from Middle-age Mormon Man. I agree wholeheartedly with your feelings about the need for appropriate music — esp at church activities. At my very first BYU dance during the Welcome Freshman weekend they played “Red, Red Wine”, and I remember feeling sure that Brigham Young would have strongly disapproved! Sure it’s fun to sing and dance to, but definitely not a message to be proclaiming at a church-sponsored activity. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your story! Prayers and best wishes for your speedy recovery!

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  3. I’m here from MMM too, and loved your story. I was born in the church, and reading the stories of folks who had to find there way is very inspirational and moving — I wish I knew why Heavenly Father’s children are born in such different circumstances, but I see the Lord’s hand everywhere…

    Anyway, I will venture to say the folks running those dances are out of line with the direction the church has given us. Here’s the text from the General Handbook of Instructions, Book 2 (available online) about dances and music:

    ****************************************
    Dances and Music

    In all dances, the dress, grooming, lighting, dancing styles, lyrics, and music should contribute to an atmosphere where the Spirit of the Lord can be present (see For the Strength of Youth). Those who oversee dances should carefully follow the policies outlined below.

    Leaders use the Performance Contract form when hiring a band, orchestra, or disc jockey. This contract helps ensure that conduct and music are appropriate for Church dances. Those who provide music should not use inappropriate lyrics and should not dress or talk immodestly. Leaders hold auditions and make firm, clear agreements in writing that commit the persons who provide music to follow Church standards when performing for Church activities.

    The beat of the music, whether instrumental or vocal, should not overshadow the melody. The volume should be low enough to allow two people who are standing side by side to hear each other as they carry on a normal conversation.

    Lights should be bright enough for people to see across the room. Strobe lighting and psychedelic lighting that pulsate with the beat are not acceptable. Lights on the floor, in the corners of the room, or spotlighting wall and ceiling decorations are appropriate.

    ****************************************

    As a ward executive secretary, I believe my bishop would respond well to an email written something like this: “Hi, Bishop, Just a quick note, I was reading through the general handbook paragraph on dances (13.6.6), and I realized that the stake singles dances don’t always seem to align very well with that guidance. I’m not sure who’s in charge of this kind of thing, but is there someone maybe from the stake who could come down and make sure it meets the minimum standard for this type of activity? Warmest regards, ________”

    Of course there’s someone who’s responsible for this, so they’ll eventually have to answer for their decisions on it, but we can at least be sure our leaders are aware. They are so busy that it’s easy for things like this to slip off their radar…

    My best to you and your family!

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