This last summer I read a blog post by Becky Wellman about helping children deal with fear, in particular, fear about a storm, with music. I got inspired by the idea and wrote a song, included below. It’s a zipper song where you can substitute different words for what you want to sing through: lightning, fire drill, snack, you name it. Or you can substitute things you can do during the storm, like laugh, dance, jump, which is a bit more elegant because it keeps the rhyme intact.
Eve Kodiak recently posted on the CMN list serve a link to a video of a father singing with his daughter, who apparently is afraid of fireworks. It’s very sweet, and it’s gone viral. Eve also wrote a blog post about it. The essence of Eve’s post is that the father is trying to distract his daughter rather than deal directly with her feelings, but what she wrote is worth reading in its entirety. I don’t see it the same way she does, but these are things worth considering.
I’m somewhere between the two points of view, and I’d love to have a longer discussion with Eve and Becky, because I have so much respect for their work. It does seem to me that music has a place in facing fear, and isn’t just a distraction. When civil rights workers faced the Klan or racist police officers, they sang to keep up their spirits. They weren’t denying their fear, but they weren’t just processing it, either. But I also think we need to deal directly with feelings, and not gloss them over or submerge them. So the truth is fuzzy and probably varies a great deal by situation, culture, experience, age, and any number of other variables.
It’s a large subject, and I wouldn’t claim to be an authority. In our culture, children need our help to learn to process their feelings. And often as adults, we’re not so good at it ourselves. I do believe that a central role music plays is to help us process what it means to be human. I also believe that emotion is the real power in the room, and shouldn’t be ignored. I’m grateful to Eve for opening up the question for me, and for Becky inspiring the song.