Originally Posted by ktmama
OK, I don't mean to hijack this thread, but I'm wondering if Katherine could comment further on why music helped so much as an outlet for anger. K - did you have a *language* for expressing your feelings prior to this development of music as an outlet? So many authors stress the importance of developing an emotional language. Do you think it's as vital an outlet as others?
Goodness gracious no, no language for expressing any emotions in my childhood. Being angry wasn't okay in my house. My parents were pretty terrible at helping us identify emotions (dad is a sensitive, but very emotionally stunted/repressed person, step-mom did all the emoting (lots of anger/resentment) at their place, and my mom expressed emotion inappropriately, making the kids feel responsible for her emotions). I was angry a lot as a child, but didn't understand why, nor was it okay to express it in either house.
I think that if a child can get familiar with his or her own emotional landscape, they will be better able to navigate it as an adolescent and adult. I do think that identifying and expressing emotion doesn't have to be something that happens ONLY through words. Music, dance, painting, soccer, baking, there are so many ways we can work through and express all kinds of emotion, positive and negative. We are such a logocentric culture; sometimes we neglect alternative forms of communication in thinking about how to develop an emotional language.
I think there's something about the physicality of music - you stand up to play, you move, you sway, you play with your whole body. For me, often the anger was excess energy and frustration that I didn't have another way to express, and playing music acted as a release valve for it. Plus, if I started out angry, played some scales or my part for some school band music and did a good job on them, I felt better because I had done something well. I think partly, just counting and breathing and doing the same thing over and over again was centering (I played trombone). And the occasional BLAAAT! came out too, of course.
Even listening to music can be profoundly mood-altering. Can you listen to Buena Vista Social Club and not dance? When you are really angry, is there anything better than some really loud Dead Kennedys and jumping up and down until you're sweating (yeah, I'm old)? Can you listen to James Taylor and stay angry? Doesn't that Eric Clapton song, "Tears in Heaven," make you cry every time you listen to it (maybe it's just me)?