I have to credit music with saving my sanity, and perhaps even my life. Music is an essential part of our lives. One sees almost every one with earphones attached to cellphones or mp3 players walking down streets, jogging through parks, slouched in quiet corners, or almost anywhere you can find people. Listening to music both soothes and inspires. Playing music, whether to an audience or in the privacy of one’s home is more.
The focus of turning inward is not about escaping being present in the real world, for the real world includes an inner dimension. The personal unconscious, as well as the collective unconscious are the foundations for personal consciousness and the collective consciousness. Music is one of the bridges between the conscious and the unconscious self.
Carl Jung experienced music therapy in 1956, an experience with Margaret Tilley. The experience had him say, “I feel that from now on music should be an essential part of every analysis. This reaches the deep archetypal material that we can only sometimes reach in our analytical work with patients. This is most remarkable.” This idea of reaching deep into the personal unconscious was, and remains, the primary work of Jungian psychology. Art in all of its forms has been integral to all forms of depth psychology, from the Rorschach tests, sand play, dance, clay sculpting, and art in its myriad of forms.
Music, like all art forms, is a product of soul. As such, it allows one soul to connect to other souls. And importantly, it allows the musician to sense the truth of her or his own soul. Playing music doesn’t automatically allow the musician access to the soul. For too many, taking lessons has simply been about the mechanics of music. I know this through experience. My efforts with a violin and a flute taught me that these were not my instruments that would allow me to touch my soul, though listening to others play worked. I also saw the disconnect in children who were forced to take music lessons. Thankfully, I had found the guitar when I was fourteen. Since then, fifty-seven years ago, I only have to pick up one of my guitars and find myself larger and fuller than being just another older man in his seventies.