Music / Peace on Earth


One of my all time favorite quotes that I keep on the wall near my desk is the one from Marriane Williamson that starts “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”  The quote ends with: ” As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”


The funny thing for me about this quote is that I have often been tempted to write about this quote, but did not… cause I was afraid to.. Ha! thats a good one, isn’t it?


Before I move on an maybe make a fool of myself, let me just say THANK YOU for taking the time to read my letters. I see myself as someone who has a lot more questions than answers, someone who has a lot more room for improvement than I “should” have at my age, so it amazes me that people write back to me and tell me to keep sending these letters.


It helps me to think of myself as someone who just likes to read and explore and finds ways to connect dots in new ways. Anybody can do this – read a lot, do research, and ask questions, play music, and try to make sense of what music does, how it does it, why its a good thing to do. I write to dive below the clutter and surface noise to re-connect with whatever it is that makes music so beautiful, compelling and indispensable for a good life. AND a good world. And then I connect this to my own harmonica practice.


Something about the Christmas season this year pushed me off the deep end, and I am willing to make a stab at why music creates peace on earth (oh yes it does… maybe not enough, but it does). Wish me luck – I may be in over my head….


Here’s what I have to throw at you:


1. Music is one of the most immediately powerful arts on the planet. It gets inside your head and triggers a reaction instantly. It’s hard to ignore. Advertisers know this, they use and abuse music all the time because it is one of the easiest ways to create a mood and influence you to feel a particular way. Musicians are considered potentially dangerous by the people who “run” the world. The powers that be here in the USA kept a close eye on John Lennon when he moved over here to live, because he thumbed his nose at authority with his music, and asked uncomfortable questions…


Music can make you want to march off to war. It can also help people to calm down and connect with each other long enough that we don’t have to march off to war. I think that one of the reasons that we haven’t yet nuked ourselves into oblivion is that enough people in the world are playing honest music that wakes us up to higher levels of problem solving than brute force.


2. Playing music or listening carefully to it wakes up your intelligence and consciousness. It builds your brain, body, mind and spirit into stronger, more useful tools for living well. Playing a scale with full attention can become an out of body experience! When you put your heart into your music practice, you work on a creative level that goes beyond the boundaries of your body. You tap into transferrable skills that wake you up to the power you have to live a good life. You get better at creating your own happiness, which is a form of peace. Here is a quote from the cartoonist R. Crumb (who is also a musician): “Music self-played is happiness self-made.”


When you move up to a high level of consciousness (happiness, peace) through music, you don’t end up in barroom brawls. The idea that slugging somebody to solve problems seems crazy.


One of the reasons that more of the world is not some big bar fight is that enough people are playing or listening to the right kind of music. You can be one of the good guys. You can help tilt the balance of the power of the world of music toward creative problem solving instead of the path of destruction. Peace on earth exists. You can help other people realize this by creating your own version of peace in your life with your music and the way you practice.


That’s my story and I’m sticking to it…


Happy New Year!




PS – Please feel free to share this with anyone you know who might get a kick out of it. They can also sign up at for more Monday letters. Thanks!





1 Comment

  1. Larry Coffman

    December 22, 2015 - 8:11 pm

    Rich, Enjoyed your story. I often practice in regards to knowing what is written in Ephesians 5:19. Blessing to you in these troubled times. Larry C.

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