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Pavarotti, Mario Lanza, Beethoven, Verdi, the joy of music.
Let's face it, the holidays work over our emotions. They also work on our emotions, which is to say it's an emotional time. We inherit what seems like another full-time job, we have to cope with Scrooges, grumpy co-workers, stressed our postal workers and shop clerks, increased traffic, bittersweet memories of holidays-past, and ... YIKES!!
What we can we do to soothe, level, motivate, energize ourselves and otherwise get on top of these cascading emotions that won't stress us out more by requiring money and time we don't have?
Well, how about some music! We include the great arts in our highly acclaimed emotional intelligence programs, because culture is one of the components of emotional intelligence. The salutary effects of music are well known, and, for the most part, easy to come by.
When you’re feeling stressed, need to relax or to pep up, get some energy, or work out the kind of nameless sadness that can happen at the holidays, music works. Even if you can’t get your hands on a CD or don't own a big collection of tapes, you can get on the Internet (see Club Vivo Per Lei) or turn on a radio.
Here are some suggestions for how to "use" this to your advantage and good health over the holidays.
1. Need to get solidly centered?
Like, as the metaphysicians say, when you vision yourself growing a tail and having it grow like an anchor down to the center of the earth kind of centered?
Try anything with a big solid bass, up loud, and brass – trumpets! Just make sure the lyrics don’t interfere. The right-brain will dominate and you’ll hear the music first, but your left-brain will still be getting the lyrics. So, for instance, don't use "Oh Elizabeth," though the beat is right, because the lyrics are sad.
OUR SUGGESTION: “I Loved ‘Em Everyone,” by T. G. Sheppard
2. Need to deal with something heavy, such as last year your father died on Christmas Eve and here comes the first anniversary
OUR SUGGESTION: Only classical music will work for this and that’s why we call it classical. For such a deep need, to maintain your grip when something’s rocked the foundation of your world, we recommend, Beethoven’s “Eroica”. Beethoven is the most popular composer in the world, for a reason."Eroica" means "heroic" and that you will need to be. Beethoven lived through the worst thing that can happen to a person, and prevailed. He wrote some of his most triumphant work after going deaf. It’s there, in his music. For you.
3. To get lightly level
OUR SUGGESTION: Pachelbel’s "Canon" tops the list. The Trans-Siberian orchestra has a beautiful recording and video (http://wm.atlrec.com/Trans-Siberian_Orchestra/new_03/christmascanon_300.wmv ) of this with children singing lyrics they composed. Leveling music contains no crescendos or shifts in rhythm, what you’re after, right?
4. To rip the heart out of Christmas, like when you want to just sit down in front of the tree and cry at the beauty and the splendor of it all and get it over with and then eat a pint of Haagen Daz and go to bed
OUR SUGGESTION: Pavarotti's Christmas video (God rest his soul in peace), Panis Angelicus duet with the little boy, especially if you had a little boy who now has whiskers on his cheeks. Or Mario Lanza singing “Ave Maria” with the boys choir: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7I-Z26gkNVk . Then you can pull out your heart and put it on the table beside you, right there beside the dish of peppermints, and the cinnamon-scented candle, and you'll know you had Christmas.
5. Want something Christmassy but light
OUR SUGGESTION: Harp music is good for this, like for baking cookies to. It doesn’t pull the emotions. It’s close to the lyre, the instrument the Greek god Orpheus played to soothe the savage and to win a favor from Hades, the god to whom there is no altar (death), the god with whom there is no bargaining. He used it to put people to sleep, and you can use it to put your emotions to sleep.
Completely upbeat, light and fun is "A Reggae Christmas," (http://tinyurl.com/y6sp ) by Various Artists, and yes, my friend, "sensei" does rhyme with "pear tree." Listen to it on the way in to work. That's girl's laughter will carry you through your day - The Ras Family, "We Wish You a Merry Christmas and June Lodge's "Joy to the World" will add joy to YOUR world.
6. Need to get some physical work done, sick of Christmas,got the kids around
OUR SUGGESTIONS: (1) "Great Balls of Fire," Jerry Lee Lewis. How could you possibly be “mindful” with that going on? It’s great fun. It will clear the air. (2) "Don't Worry Be Happy," by Marley. The key is the beat, the rhythm, and getting away from "Christmas."
7. The out-laws are coming, I mean the IN-laws, and you, exhausted, crabby and high on sugar as you are, must clean the house and you aren’t exactly in the MOOD for a Christmas Carol, if you know what I mean
G RATED SUGGESTION: If you haven’t cleaned house with your two preschoolers marching along behind you to a John Philip Sousa march, you haven’t lived. Give the little one a paper hat and get out his toy drum. Ok, quit laughing and taking photos and get back to work, you!
PG RATED SUGGESTION: Got older kids you need to get working with you? Call it "the main event," and put on the Jock Jams, "Let's Get Ready to Rumble" (http://tinyurl.com/y6tw ).
X RATED SUGGESTION: You and your partner put "Cotton Eyed Joe" on -- I mean the Texas version – and invent your own lyrics appropos to the, um, challenges of the moment. (This is popular at office holiday parties with adjusted lyrics as well - at the after-the-party-party, when the "bosses" have left) And DO the Cotton Eye Joe as you push that vacuum around. Here's how: http://www.partydirectory.com/guide/cotton.htm .
8. Need to be inspired and also to get in touch with the spiritual side of Christmas
OUR SUGGESTION: Handel's “Messiah, Hallelujah Chorus,” of course. Just the chorus, unless you're an aficianado and can afford to tire yourself out.
Remember, if you will, that when you hear "The Hallelujah Chorus," you are to stand up. (Traditions and respect anchor us too. They remind us there's always a bigger picture, yes?)
Do this. Right there at home in your living room. In your grubby bathrobe and slippers. It will do something for you.
9. Now, or any time you’re beginning to feel just slightly resentful of all your “blessings”
OUR SUGGESTION: “Lord, What Did I Ever Do?” by the Oak Ridge Boys is great for attitude adjustment.
10. For the peace that passeth all understanding
OUR SUGGESTION: Stille Naq, Noite de Paz, Noche de Paz, Sainte Nuit, Cicha Noc, Glade Jul, Stille Nacht, Po La`i E, or, as many of us know it, Silent Night, the lullaby that's been translated into every language on earth, composed by the greatest unsung duo in musical history, Mohr (lyrics) and Gruber (melody). And here it is in Japanese, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MssiavJIp-Y, Lee Heung Lan sings it in the Japanese film, “Scandal.”
We also recommend "Ave Maria."
Let them still your heart and bring you peace.
To increase your understanding and enjoyment of music, and help you bring more of it into your life, join Club Vivo Per Lei / I Live for Music, www.susandunn.cc/vivoperlei.htm . It's fr**, our gift to you.