I now believe that if we teach­ers and par­ents of babies and young chil­dren began play­ing the music we love and the music that makes us tru­ly hap­py we could devel­op a life­time pas­sion for music in those chil­dren. I am assum­ing of course that the music you real­ly love is tune­ful and has an emo­tion­al affect on you, almost bod­i­ly. Per­haps not all mod­ern music will do that – have you ever lis­tened to Cold Play for Chil­dren? Wow – it doesn’t do a thing for me. The music fits its name ‘cold’!

Last sum­mer my broth­er and I were try­ing to choose suit­able music for my mother’s funer­al. We lis­tened to some of her favourites on CD and clutched each oth­er as we cried togeth­er. It was a very ther­a­peu­tic expe­ri­ence for us both as we looked out onto her gar­den from her liv­ing room. How­ev­er we deemed at least one tune too emo­tion­al for her funer­al ser­vice, for us really.

In the end we chose the music from our teenage years when we gath­ered with our par­ents and oth­er fam­i­lies to enjoy both The Beat­les’ and Glenn Miller’s music. The Bea­t­les, music from our own era yet our par­ents loved it, and Glenn Miller’s music from their own wartime expe­ri­ences, music we had come to love too. My father and moth­er loved to dance togeth­er and it seemed fit­ting to remem­ber those hap­py occa­sions at Mum’s funer­al ser­vice. We chose ‘Here Comes The Sun’ by The Bea­t­les to open the ser­vice and ‘In The Mood’ by Glenn Miller to cheer­ful­ly close it, both seemed appro­pri­ate – per­haps only to us who knew her well?

When my hus­band was in hos­pi­tal in 1999 and in an induced coma I spent the 10-minute dri­ve to the hos­pi­tal each morn­ing lis­ten­ing to Keep­sake, a Gold Medal bar­ber­shop quar­tet from the ear­ly 90’s. One song in par­tic­u­lar, ‘How Deep Is The Ocean’, always brought tears to my eyes. That was prob­a­bly the only time I cried each day; bar­ber­shop har­mo­ny served a very ther­a­peu­tic purpose.

When our sons com­piled their list of songs for their first bar­ber­shop CD, record­ed the fol­low­ing year, I asked them to record that song for me – they did.

We now lis­ten to their mel­liflu­ous bar­ber­shop har­mo­ny both live, on CD and on youtube, as often as we can. Cou­pled with the videos of their bar­ber­shop youth cho­rus, we have plen­ty of real music to enjoy. I’ve even played one of my son­s’ bar­ber­shop har­mo­ny songs to a 15-month old lit­tle girl – she got it – you can’t imag­ine how calm she was!

The oth­er aspect of ther­a­peu­tic music is that when you know those singing and you under­stand their pas­sion for the music they per­form, your musi­cal and ther­a­peu­tic expe­ri­ence is only enhanced.

Much as we all love a wide vari­ety of music, for us what the voice, or mul­ti­ple voic­es, pro­duce in beau­ti­ful four-part har­mo­ny, is like noth­ing else. Instru­ments often over­ride a beau­ti­ful voice.

Yet I do think four-part har­mo­ny is much like lis­ten­ing to an orches­tra – each instru­ment adds its own facet to the whole.

Then again I also believe in singing with even larg­er groups – where it doesn’t mat­ter which voice part you sing! That suits me quite well. I’d do quite well singing with a flash mob, just not doing the dance rou­tines! The actu­al expe­ri­ence is singing beside so many peo­ple, as our old­est son did in Edin­burgh this year. He joined with some 80,000 oth­ers in that Scot­tish city singing Olde Lang Syne just after ring­ing in 2012 – quite the once in a life­time musi­cal expe­ri­ence for him I’m sure.

Or as I did a year ago singing along, with my then 91 year old moth­er, to those well known Rogers and Ham­mer­stein tunes from their famous musi­cals of the 50’s and 60’s. We had a very hap­py evening togeth­er; she, even with Alzheimers, remem­bered the words and melodies (!) and I am left with very fond memories.

Music needs to be in our lives ther­a­peu­ti­cal­ly. It isn’t ther­a­peu­tic if it is ‘prescribed’ by any­one else and doesn’t fit our own per­son­al idea of mak­ing us feel won­der­ful­ly hap­py or even mak­ing us cry.

I believe that those with­out beloved music in their lives are tru­ly bereft of the full range of emo­tion­al being.