I love the counsel Karl Paulnack, pianist and director of the music division at the Boston Conservatory, offered to a group of incoming freshmen:
“If we were a medical school, and you were here as a med student…you’d take your work very seriously because you would imagine that some night at two in the morning someone is going to waltz into your emergency room and you’re going to have to save their life.
Well, my friends, someday at 8 pm someone is going to walk into your concert hall and bring you a mind that is confused, a heart that is overwhelmed, a soul that is weary. Whether they go out whole again will depend partly on how well you do your craft.
You’re not here to become an entertainer…You’re here to become a sort of therapist for the human soul, a spiritual version of a chiropractor, physical therapist, someone who works with our insides to see if they can get things to line up, to see if we can come in harmony with ourselves and be healthy and happy and well.”
Whether a concert performer, church organist, or an I-only-play-for-my-family musician, I believe this principle applies to each of us, as well. While music can be entertaining, I believe its greater role is as a tool for healing and strength.